Why Shepherds? Part 2

Yesterday I submitted that the shepherds' appearance in the Christmas story is more than just a coincidence. God picked shepherds, and specific shepherds, to be the recipients of his big announcement. Those guys weren't bit players in the drama - they tell a significant piece of the story.

You don't have to be an Old Testament scholar to know that shepherds play a big part in the Old Testament. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and his sons, Moses, and David were all shepherds. In fact, as you read through the Old Testament you get the idea that when God wanted something done, He looked for a shepherd to work through.

In fact, that's precisely the point God makes in Ezekiel 34.

When we think about Christmas prophecies, we usually think about Isaiah 7, Isaiah 9, and Micah 5. But Ezekiel 34, as it turns out, has Christmas written all over it, though it's not all peace, joy and good tidings.

Ezekiel 34 is a stinging rebuke and judgement against Israel's leaders, who God says should have been been serving as shepherds of the people of Israel. Instead, they were selfish (Ezekiel 34:1-2); oppressive (Ezekiel 34:3-4); negligent (Ezekiel 34:5-6) stewards over the people God had trusted them to lead.

They were shepherds who were asleep on duty.

As a result, God promises to remove those leaders as shepherds and to replace them with someone else, Himself (Ezekiel 34:7-16). God announces judgment on these corrupt, oppressive, self-centered "shepherds" by shepherding the people Himself, caring for the people Himself, and restoring the flock Himself.

The judgment is announced in Ezekiel 34. In Bethlehem 2000 years ago, God made good on His promise.

The angels appeared to shepherds because this baby was the Good Shepherd (John 10:11-13) God had promised way back in Ezekiel 34. That's great news for sheep; bad news for the former shepherds. The angels should have appeared to the Jewish leaders. The angels should have appeared to the king. But those leaders were under judgment.

But why these shepherds? I think there's a reason these specific guys made it into the story. Check back tomorrow.