DIG for Wednesday the 28th of December…..God is good, pure and simple…..James 1 v 17

What do you preach to people if you are only ever going to get 30 minutes with them?

That is the difficulty I think I am faced with today, as we head out into some village churches here in Andhra Pradesh.

At home I normally have a series to preach over a number of weeks, where I can ‘develop’ what I want to say.

Today I have a limited time to impact people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I of course will seek the leading of the Holy Spirit, however I think I have to start by telling them that God is a good God, who loves them unconditionally.

This is a great truth; that we do not need to perform or be religious for God to love us, we just need to be breathing!

God is so good and so loving that He sent Jesus to reconcile Himself and man.

Jesus dealt with our sin and let forgiveness flow from God.

Ever since that day man can come into salvation and righteousness through faith in Jesus.

This is the simple truth that all people need to hear and need to have explained to them.

We can add on other doctrines and truths, but people need to know God loves them before anything else can be accepted.

We are forgiven because He loves us, we can be made righteous because He loved us and Jesus provided the means to live life in abundance because He loves us.

Speak this out today…..”Thank you Lord that you love me unconditionally and completely”

James 1 v 17…..Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning

DIG for Tuesday the 27th of December…..one God, not many Gods…..Genesis 1 v 1

As many of you will now we are in India at the moment, preaching the Gospel and teaching His Word at some churches here.

On our drive from the airport to the hotel we saw a multitude of temples and statues for Gods.

We were told that they have literally thousands of Gods that are worshipped here in India, many based on animals.

For example we saw a statue of a monkey God that was about 50 feet tall.

The Word is clear that there is in fact only one God (although in three parts).

Genesis 1 v 1 says that “one Gods” created the heaven and the earth.

And the Word is also very clear that there is only one way to come to God the Father, and that is through Jesus His Son.

Jesus Himself said that He was the only way to come to the Father (John 14 v 6).

People say there are many roads that lead to God and this is what we are seeing in India.

In a sense this is true as every person (on whatever road they are on and whatever journey they have travelled) will come before God and bow the knee.

But it is only those on the ‘Jesus road’ that will spend eternity in the presence of the Lord.

Jesus is the only way to the only God, and this is what we will be preaching in India this week.

Speak this out today…..”Thank you Lord that there is a way to come to you and that is through your Son Jesus”.

Genesis 1 v 1…..In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth

DIG for Monday the 26th of December…..His birth told us about His death…..John 1 v 36

Over the recent weeks we have been celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.

As we have seen His birth was a picture of His death; He was born as a sacrificial lamb to take away the sins of the world.

Jesus dealt with all sin for all men forever through His death and resurrection (Hebrews 10 v 12 and 14).

In John chapter 1 we see the account to Jesus being baptised by John.

Prior to His baptism John says, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1 v 29).

John then baptises Jesus, and we know this is a picture of His death and resurrection.

The next day when he sees Jesus John just says, “Behold the Lamb of God” (John 1 v 36).

You see, after His death and resurrection sin is no longer an issue, it has been dealt with.

Being born at Migdal Eder we see that Jesus was our sacrificial lamb, born to die for all our sin.

Our sin was taken away at the cross, and is no loner an issue between God and us.

By looking at the birth of Jesus we can see what His mission was, we can see why He came and what He came to do.

Jesus did what he came to do; He has dealt with all your sin; that is also something worth celebrating.

Speak this out today…..”Thank you Lord for the finished work of Jesus, thank you that He has already dealt with all my sin”.

John 1 v 36…..And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God

DIG for Sunday the 25th of December….. He was THE sacrificial lamb; He came for YOU…..1 Peter 1 v 19

Looking at the evidence from the last couple of days could we could conclude that Jesus was born at Migdal Eder (Shepherds Field) on the edge of Bethlehem and not in a stable at the inn.

Scripture, prophecy and Rabbinical commentaries point to this fact.

Of course Jesus was born here!

This was the birthplace of every sacrificial lamb; Jesus was THE sacrificial lamb.

The birthplace of Jesus is an amazing piece of typology; this birth place points to Him being our sacrificial lamb.

Luke 2 v 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

Luke 2 v 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

Luke 2 v 17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

The first people to see Jesus were the shepherds.

The word says they were in the same country this means close by.

Is it significant that God sent angels to tell the shepherds?

Is it significant that the shepherds were the first to see Jesus?

Why were the shepherds first was the question I always used to ask.

I believe these were not just any shepherds.

I think they were the temple shepherds, watching their flocks at Migdal Eder.

They could go and see Jesus (without a dereliction of duty and leaving their sheep) because they were already there at His birth place.

The shepherds in Luke 2 were the temple shepherds.

They saw Jesus after His birth at Migdal Eder, the place where all the sacrificial lambs were born.

These shepherds knew a sacrificial lamb when they saw one; they had inspected all the ones before Jesus to ensure that they were spotless, perfect and without blemish.

How fitting that they should be the first to see Jesus.

Nothing in scripture is meaningless.

There had to be a reason that Jesus was born in Bethlehem and was seen by shepherds.

Once we know about Migdal Eder and the temple shepherds it all makes sense.

His birth is a picture of His mission and His death.

He is THE sacrificial lamb; He would deal with the sin of the whole world through HIS sacrifice on the cross.

His birth points to the cross.

Of course He was born at Migdal Eder, in the watch tower of the flock.

Of course it was the temple shepherds who saw Him first.

They were always the first people to see the sacrificial lambs.

Perfect lambs were used to cover the sins of the people; Jesus removed the sin of the whole world.

John 1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

Jesus was the perfect sacrifice; we no longer need any more Passover lambs; Jesus was THE last sacrificial lamb.

1Peter 1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;

1Peter 1:19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

1Peter 1:20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

1Peter 1:21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.

Jesus was not born in a stable by the inn in Bethlehem; He was born in Migdal Eder, at the watch tower of the flock, by Bethlehem.

The birth of Jesus is a picture of how he would die, and what he’d die for; He would die as a sacrificial lamb for the sins of the whole world…AMEN

Speak this out today…..”Thank you for Jesus; thank you for my sacrificial lamb”.

1 Peter 1 v 19…..But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

DIG for Saturday the 24th of December…… ordinary shepherds or special shepherds…..Luke 2 v 8

For the last couple of DIGs we have been looking at the birthplace of Jesus; please read DIG for Thursday and Friday first before you read this one…….

Let me describe Migdal Eder to you; it was a tower that was used as a farm building.

It was like a barn or a stable, but solely for sheep.

It was made up of stalls, or different areas, where individual sheep were kept separate.

Individual stalls were used for single sheep to give birth to the temple sacrificial lambs.

This was written down and in the archaeological record.

Now, if you go to Bethlehem today you will be taken to an area on the edge of the town called Shepherds Field.

A guide will tell you this is where the angel and heavenly host made their visit to the shepherds described in Luke 2.

This is the same area shown by the archaeological record and Jewish writings where the lambs for the Passover sacrifices were raised.

At the time of Jesus all the lambs sacrificed in the temple were bred in one place on the edge of Bethlehem.

Jerome, an early Saint, said that this area was “1,000 paces from Bethlehem”, so it was very close.

You could say this was in or at Bethlehem, similar to the Greek meaning in Matthew 2 v 1.

At this place sacrificial lambs were born and raised for the temple by the temple shepherds.

It was the job of the temple shepherds to ensure that the lambs used for the Passover were perfect and spotless.

These shepherds were the first people to see the sacrificial lambs.

They knew which lambs were perfect and without blemish; they were the experts when it came to sacrificial lambs.

So we have lots of evidence saying that the sacrificial lambs were raised on the edge of Bethlehem at Migdal Eder or Shepherds Field; I believe that this is the same place.

Could the shepherds we see in Luke 2 have been the temple shepherds raising the sacrificial lambs for the temple?

This mini DIG series will be concluded tomorrow when we will see where Jesus was born and who say Him first!

Luke 2 v 8…..And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night

DIG for Friday the 23rd of December….. the Kingdom shall come at the tower of the flock; Migdal Eder…..Micah 4 v 8

Yesterday we started looking at where Jesus was born; saying we cannot say for certain that He was born in a stable. We need to look at more scripture to answer the question about His birth.

Micah 5 v 2….. But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. 

Micah 4 v 8….. And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.

Micah 5 v 2 tells us that the ruler of Israel will be born in or near Bethlehem. This will not just be any ruler but this will be the ruler from “of old, from everlasting”; this is talking about Jesus.

Micah 4 v 8 is a part of a prophecy about the Messiah, and says that He will come at a place called the “tower of the flock”. This is the word “Migdal Eder”. This verse is literally saying that the Messiah will come at the tower of the flock or, literally, Migdal Eder.

So, the Gospels say He was born at or near Bethlehem and Micah says Bethlehem and more specifically a place called Migdal Eder. So what you may be saying. Now we have to move to archaeology and history!

Where or what is Migdal Eder?

Migdal Eder is mentioned in the Targum; this is like a commentary on the Old Testament scriptures that was written by Rabbis. There are a number of translations or paraphrases of the scriptures in the Targum.

The following is taken from the Targum, based on Micah 4 v 8 and Genesis 35…..

“He spread his tent beyond Migdal Eder, the place where the King Messiah will reveal Himself at the end of days”

So the Rabbis, well before the birth of Jesus, took their reading of scripture to mean that Jesus would be born at this place called Migdal Eder.

As well as the Targum, the Jews had a set of oral teaching called the Mishnah. Again this is a set of teachings from respected Rabbis well before the birth of Jesus. We know already that Migdal Eder literally means the “watch tower of the flock”.

The Mishnah tells us that this is the place where the ewes from the special temple flock were kept to give birth to the Passover lambs. This is where the lambs used in the Passover sacrifice were born and checked for purity. They were checked for purity by the special shepherds who were in charge of the temple flock.

You should be getting excited now in the picture that is emerging; more again tomorrow.

Micah 4 v 8….. And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem

DIG for Thursday the 22nd of December….. where was Jesus really born…..Luke 2 v 7

To most people, included non-believers, this is a really simple answer; He was born in a stable at an inn in Bethlehem.

The answer however is not as straight forward as this.

Like many things in the church today the facts about the birth of Jesus have been twisted by religion and tradition, and the true meaning around His birth has been lost.

You will read over the next four DIGs that Jesus was not born in a stable in Bethlehem.

You will see that He was born near Bethlehem in a watch tower, and His birth is a wonderful picture of His work and ministry; His birth is a picture of Him being our perfect sacrificial lamb.

Take the time today to read my understanding of some special scriptures and then take the time to study this out for yourself; I can assure you that it will be time well spent.

What does the Word actually say about the birth of Jesus?

Matthew 2 v 1….. Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

 Luke 2 v 4 to 7….. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

 Luke 2 v 11…..For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

 Those three verses are all that the Gospels say about the birthplace of Jesus.

I agree that they say in Bethlehem, however the Greek could also mean on, at or near by.

Nowhere in scripture does it say that Jesus was born in a stable in Bethlehem.

He was not born at the inn, but that does not automatically mean that He was born in the stable at the inn; these three scriptures do not tell us where He was born.

Luke writes that He was placed in a manger.

The Greek word for manger means crib for fodder or stall; so He was placed in a container that was used to feed animals.

So it could have been a stable, but then again it could have been any building used to keep domesticated animals in.

If we are honest the scriptures at the start of the Gospels do not explicitly tell us the birth place of Jesus.

So are there any other scriptures to shed light on this?

More in the next DIG tomorrow…………………

Luke 2 v 7…..And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn