Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Second of Advent 2015 - The Lowly Life of the Shepherd

photo Nativity1_zpsizocgdlq.jpg

The Second of Advent 2015 - The Lowly Life of the Shepherd

Last week we studied the basics of the "Nativity" and this week we will concentrate on the Shepherds.  What was life like for a Shepherd in Biblical times?  Since I am not a Bible historian I had to do a little research.

NOTE about the Nativity scene above:  My father made those figurines when he was in school (plaster mold I believe) and when I was about 12 or 13 I had the privilege of painting these treasured family heirlooms (we are missing one of the kings).

The shepherds were the first to visit Jesus and I believe that is because Jesus came to earth for everyone including the lowest in society (the last shall be first).

"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you;  he is Christ the Lord.  This will be a sign to you;  You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.'  Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.'  When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, 'Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.'  So, they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the manger.  When they had seen him they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them."  
Luke 2:8-18

by Angie Ouellette-Tower for photo DSCF7434_zpsm3onmqhs.jpg

I won't go into super detail but there are 3 main duties of a shepherd:

1.  Finding food and water for the sheep - this was especially difficult during winter.  In Spring & Summer there were plenty of pastures for the sheep to feed.  In the Fall, after the farmers had harvested their crop, the sheep were allowed to graze for anything left or missed from the harvest.  During the winter the shepherd had to take his flock to the edge of the desert - it would have been unbearably windy and cold.  Finding shelter during storms would have been either in caves or shelters built by the shepherds.  This would have been an extremely lonely life and socially speaking the shepherd was one of the lowest positions.

2.  Keeping the flock together - if just one sheep strayed from the flock the shepherd could NOT continue on his journey until that lost sheep had been found.  The shepherd knew each and every sheep in his flock.  I read in my research that it is thought that the shepherd would have even named his sheep.

3.  Protection against predators - the shepherd would protect his flock even to the death.  My dog is a "Great Pyrenees" and they were bred to protect sheep.  Now, we don't own any sheep but he is very protective and if I left it up to him he would stay outside day and night protecting our home.  It doesn't matter what type of weather we are having - he prefers to stay outside and guard.  That is exactly the attitude of a shepherd - protection 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and no vacation ever!

Jesus referred to himself as the shepherd and we are the sheep:

"I am the good shepherd, I know my sheep and my sheep know me- just as the Father knows me and I know the Father - and I lay down my life for the sheep."  John 10:14 & 15

Our Heavenly Father sent his only Son Jesus to be born, die and be raised again so that we all might have eternal life!  God is always there for us: 24hours a day, 7 days a week and no vacation ever!  Call on Him!

The Second of Advent from previous years:

(click on the titles below to view previous First of Advent posts on this blog)
2012 - O Little Town of Bethlehem
2013 - Angels From the Realms of Glory
2014 - O Come All Ye Faithful


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