Christmas in Prophecy: Shepherds Keeping Watch
By Nathan Jones
What is the real meaning of Christmas?
Jesus fulfilled all 108 distinct Bible prophecies concerning the Messiah’s First Coming. Anyone who thinks that is an accident knows nothing — absolutely nothing — about the laws of probability. Prophecy is proof positive that Jesus is God in the flesh. On a recent television episode of Christ in Prophecy, Dr. David Reagan and Nathan Jones, along with guest Dennis Pollock, set out to demonstrate this amazing fact and in doing so revealed the life-changing impact such knowledge can make on a person’s life.
Raise Up a Horn of Salvation
Dr. Reagan: Let’s look at the priest Zacharias’ prophetic speech delivered just eight days after John the Baptist was born, found in Luke 1:59-80. Remember the context was Zacharias finally had a son in his old age. He had gone all of his life having no hope of ever siring an heir, because his wife Elizabeth had a barren womb. Then, suddenly — Bang! Here’s a son. Zacharias must have been besides himself he was so excited.
Nathan Jones: Zacharias must have also been so excited because throughout the entire pregnancy he couldn’t say a thing about it. Because the old priest didn’t believe Gabriel’s pronouncement that he’d have a son, the angel stole his voice away from him, that is, until the baby would be born. Once John the Baptist was finally born, Zacharias could finally speak again, which was another reason to celebrate.
With his voice returned, what does Zacharias do? He prophesies in song in Luke 1:67-79, “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people.” He goes on, revealing how Jesus would become the horn of salvation, and that John the Baptist, his own son, would pave the way for the Messiah.
Nathan Jones: John the Baptist fulfilled the forerunner prophecy. John would proclaim that the Messiah would be the sunrise from on high, and would bring light to the world. Jesus achieved all of that, and still continues to do so to this day.
Dennis Pollock: From the line of King David the Messiah would give knowledge of salvation to His people for the remission of their sins. How amazing that Zacharias possessed such prophetic insight. Obviously, it was given to him by the Holy Spirit. The Messiah would not be somebody to liberate Israel from Rome, which is what everybody was expecting, but rather He’s going to liberate people from their sins. Christ first came for that reason, much to His followers’ surprise.
Shepherds Keeping Watch
Dr. Reagan: Let’s look at those poor shepherds who were out there in their fields when Christ was born, and who were scared witless by the arrival of the heavenly host. Can you imagine how scary that must have been when suddenly the whole sky lite up with angels singing? Luke 2:8-20 tells the story about the angels who sent the shepherds to Bethlehem in search of the promised Messiah. In the process, they receive some amazing prophecies.
“Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.”
Nathan Jones: If you’ve ever watched the Charlie Brown Christmas special from the 60’s, Linus tells the shepherd’s story to us every year the program airs. The angels proclaimed that Jesus was coming, that He would be the Savior of the world, and that they were to go and find Him in the city of David lying in a manger. A manger is an animal feeding trough, not the cradle of a king. Regardless, the shepherds are told to travel there and they would see the promised Messiah.
Dr. Reagan: Growing up I thought a manger was a place where the animals were kept, but no, it is a feeding trough. The Son of God actually rested in the animals’ feeding trough. When leading tours to Israel, I often see feeding troughs carved out of rock or sometimes made of wood. These mangers often remind me how humble the origins of the King of kings and Lord of lords was, for He was placed in a feeding trough because there was no room for the Son of God in the inn.
Nathan Jones: Nobody would place their baby into a grungy feeding trough. Yet, the angels and then the shepherds knew to look for the Christ baby in a feeding trough.
In the sixth and last segment of our study about how Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled all 108 distinct Bible prophecies concerning the Messiah’s First Coming, a mystery concerning salvation is revealed.