While Shepherds Watched, Part IV
Amos was now alone, a sole shepherd guarding the sheep, as the others departed hastily towards Bethlehem in search of the newborn King. The Angels had come and gone, leaving the shepherds with amazement and joy. The Messiah, promised from the beginning of time, had been born that night in Bethlehem. But young Amos thought someone had to stay and guard the flocks of sheep. Sheep are defenseless and totally vulnerable without a shepherd to protect them, and these were the Passover lambs that would be sacrificed by the priests in the Temple of Jerusalem.
Therefore, Amos volunteered to stay while the others went to Bethlehem
The 14-year old Amos was baffled as to why God would announce the birth of his Son to a group of shepherds in Judaea. Shepherds, Amos knew, were looked down upon and ridiculed by the people of Israel. They were considered so untrustworthy that they were not allowed to testify in court proceedings, even as eyewitnesses to a crime.
As a class of people, shepherds were generally poor, uneducated, and deemed outcasts of society, only to perform a meager, but necessary service – to watch over flocks of sheep.
Then a strange, spiritual feeling began to consume the young man. He could not hear words being spoken, but he could sense the message.
“Why not shepherds?” Amos thought.
God does the unexpected. He created a nation through Abraham beginning with the birth of Isaac to a barren woman, Sarah, who was 90 years old. That was unexpected. God sent a man named Moses, who lacked eloquence, to convince Pharaoh to release a nation of slaves. And he did, and then God made a dry path through the Red Sea. That was certainly not expected.
A shepherd boy named David had slain a giant and a blinded, weakened man named Samson pushed over the pillars of the Philistine temple, crashing down and killing many enemies of Israel. Who would have expected any of those events?
“Rather than the rabbis, priests or King Herod, God has announced to ordinary shepherds the birth of his Son,” Amos sensed. “And didn’t my father tell me that the Messiah would be a descendant of King David, a shepherd who once kept flocks in these same fields?”
Then Amos thought of the Angel and the vast armies of heaven, praising God. The highest heavens had been emptied of its citizens and the dark sky had been filled with ten thousand times ten thousand angels. They certainly needed a large space for their concert. No building of man could have contained them. The walls would have crumbled when they lifted their voices as one and praised God.
The young shepherd was now well aware that a special Lamb had been born that night: The Lamb of God. And where better to announce the birth of the Lamb than in a field among shepherds.
Amos recalled the words of the prophet Isaiah: “He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, and hold them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.”
Later that night, Benjamin, Shimron and the other shepherds returned and told Amos all they had seen. They had found the newborn baby in a stable, in a feed trough as the Angel had told them. The young mother was named Mary and the father was Joseph, from Nazareth. The baby was beautiful and sleeping quietly.
“They named him Jesus, and like our Passover lambs, he was without blemish,” Benjamin said.
Amos never saw the young babe, but his was the gift of faith – believing without seeing. And forever these words were sealed in his heart: “For unto you is born this day, in the City of David, a Savior, which is Christ, the Lord.”