And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly hosts praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will towards men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. (Lk. 2:13-16)
Dear Intercessors for Israel:
Greetings from Jerusalem! Not far from the House of Peace, perhaps a 30-minute drive, is a place Marylois and I love. It is called “Shepherd’s Field.” You can find it in the Arab-Christian village of Beit Sahour which is located a few miles south of Bethlehem. It’s a great place to pray and just meditate on the miracle of Christmas. Although, the “field” today is paved, the walkway into it, leads one to a simple cave. Here, it is not hard to imagine the place being used that Christmas night as a shelter for sheep. There is even a manger inside the cavern which helps one think this place is similar to where Mary and Joseph stayed, when she birthed the baby Jesus.
Shepherd’s Field overlooks a few hills, nearby with a small valley in-between. Standing at this viewpoint, the sky appears to envelop you. It’s not difficult to let your minds travel back those 2000 years to see a “multitude of heavenly hosts” above you, praising God. It is a place, I would call a heavenly portal, for if you listen in your spirit-man, you can still hear their call resounding throughout the ages: “Peace on earth, good will towards men.” Shepherds Field is a great place to pray and just meditate on the true miracle of Christmas: To us, this day is not about jolly olde St. Nick but about the miracle of our God who so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son to save us, sinful man.
The hills that night would have been scattered with flocks of sheep with their shepherds’ present watching and guarding their flock. All would have been quiet, until “suddenly” the heaven’s opened up and the glory of the Lord shown about. It was a night not to fear but to be enveloped by “tidings of great joy which shall be to all people.” The angel’s message was simple yet direct: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; you shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” (Lk, 2:10-12).
There is a tradition that writer and Biblical scholar Alfred Edersheim (1825-1889) relates in his book: The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah.” A Jewish convert to Christianity, he writes in Chapter Six, of a Jewish belief that the Messiah was:
“to be revealed from Migdal Eder, ‘the tower of the flock.’ This Migdal Eder was not the watchtower for the ordinary flocks which pastured on the barren sheep ground beyond Bethlehem, but lay close to the town, on the road to Jerusalem. A passage in the Mishnah leads to the conclusion, that the flocks, which pastured there, were destined for Temple-sacrifices, and, accordingly, that the shepherds, who watched over them, were not ordinary shepherds,” but Levites.
Edersheim infers that this “Midal” or watchtower was in a place just outside of Bethlehem city, but still within the region commonly known as Bethlehem, where Temple sacrificial lambs were kept by specially trained and purified shepherds. The lambs were born in this “tower of the flock” known as Migdal Eder under the watchful eye of the shepherds who would then inspect and either certify them for use as sacrifices in the temple or designate them to be released for common use. The new lambs would, according to some sources, even be wrapped in special swaddling clothes once certified. (www.patheos.com)
These swaddling clothes were old garments once worn by the Temple priests, but now kept to shield the newborn lambs. The Levitical shepherds would wrap the newborn lambs in these pieces so as to prevent them from harming themselves, thus preventing them from being offered as sacrifices in the Temple.
A prophetic passage in Micah refers to this “tower of the flock:” “And you, O tower of the flock, The stronghold of the daughter of Zion, To you shall it come, Even the former dominion shall come, The kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem.” (Mic 4:8). Religious scholars interpret Micah 4:8 as a prophecy indicating that the Messiah would be revealed from the “tower of the flock” (Migdal Eder) which is connected with the town of Bethlehem southeast of Jerusalem. The church historian Eusebius identified these fields as being Midal Edar.
“That means when the angels appeared that night to the shepherds in the fields outside Bethlehem, it was not just a declaration of the Good News to simple shepherds. It was a powerful prophetic sign to all of Israel. The news of that night must have spread like wildfire through the surrounding villages. (quote by Dr. Juergen Buehler, see “The Tower of the Flock”, www.icej.com ).
Luke records: “Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.” (Luke 2:17-18”)
Supporters of Edersheim’s theories which highlight the rabbinical writings in the Mishnah concerning Midal Edar as being the birthplace of Christ, point out that: “First, it places Jesus’ birth in the traditional location for Temple lambs to be born. This place not only fulfills scripture (Mic. 4:8) , but, fits since He became the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world. Second, it explains how the shepherds knew where to go to find the newborn babe — and why it being wrapped in swaddling clothes would be significant clue. Finally, it explains why those shepherds were notified as it was their holy calling to certify these Temple lambs upon birth.” (www.patheos.com)
Christ as our perfect sacrificial “Lamb of God” was wrapped in these holy swaddling clothes. Like these newborn lambs destined for the Temple, he was to be offered without spot or wrinkle. Though out the New Testament, Jesus is identified as being the “Lamb of God.” John the Baptist declares: “Behold the Lamb of God who take away the sins of the world” (Jn. 1:29). The book of Revelation contains 29 references to the lamb “slain from the foundation of the world.” What better place for our Messiah to be born than in Midal Edar, the Tower of the Flock, the place where the newborn lambs destined for the Temple sacrifices were kept. Shepherd’s Field is Midal Edar
House of Peace
Bruce and Cheryl Lindley from ARC Global (Apostolic Restoration Community) in the Gold Coast have been staying at the House. Yesterday, Pastor Bruce ministered on “the Father Heart of God,” telling us How much God really loves us. Many attending were ministered to and were touched by the love of God.
We also had a wonderful pre-Christmas dinner for the believers here. Hadar, our dear friend was able to get us a 15-pound roast Turkey, which was greatly enjoyed by all. We had some 25 people attend with a simple gift exchange and much “Table ministry.”
We also would lovingly ask, that you not forget the House of Peace in your Christmas giving. Your offerings help us in many ways, including giving to the poor, assisting Holocaust victims and helping needy believers. Greg and I delivered 54 boxes of used clothing today, to Rose House in Bethany, an outreach to the poor and handicapped.
We were able to replace five windows in the House of Peace with energy efficient windows that slide. We were also able to replace an old warped steel-glass door onto our deck with a new energy efficient double paned door. No more wind, whistling though the gaps! Thank you for those who have already given, for your support of the House.
We still have another 10 windows to replace that are either cracked or warped or just old. The average cost per window is about $300. This is an on-going project, so if you would like to help us in this vision, please send your gifts to ETH Ministries, House of Peace P.O. Box 447, Jasper AR. 72641. Mark these gifts as HOP windows. In the Spring, we will also be re-painting the interior of the House and are awaiting an estimate on this job.
We also have had a “surge” in electrical problems, at the House, this week. Murad our electrician has been replacing older lights, switches and timers which refuse to work. It is amazing what wears out or is outdated by newer technology (meaning there are no replacement parts available).
Marylois and I are flying out from Israel, this Saturday morning December 21st. We are returning to the U.S. for another season and will be home in Engeltal until March. We look forward to seeing you and renewing friendships.
Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukah greetings
Gene and Marylois/House of Peace