A Shepard’s Dream

What do you think the shepherds thought about when sitting on that Bethlehem hillside just over two thousand years ago? What dreams did they have or had they already given up on? Can you imagine the conversations around the campfire as the late watch changed in favor of the night guard? You probably had the youngster new to the fields always getting the dirty jobs and worst schedule; kind of an Ovine intern learning the trade from the ground up. “Time to get up Manasseh, middle of the night and your turn to get out there. Watch out for that pack of dogs running loose.” Sleepy eyed and grumbling a reply “I’m not doing this forever! It won’t be long until I get on with Rueben’s trading company. When that happens I will be heading my Camel away from here and trading in some exotic land. I’ll be leaving this hick town forever!”

Then there was Hezekiah, passed his prime, constantly hurting from sleeping on hard ground and climbing among the craggy rock strewn hills. “I had dreams too Manasseh but don’t count on getting out of here; you’re stuck here just like the rest of us, so get used to it!” Rounding out the trio is Benjamin, following the footsteps of his father who followed his father before him in the family business. The sheep love Ben and Ben loves the sheep being as much a part of his family as his own children.  He is a realist knowing that uneducated boys from poor agrarian families just don’t have many options. Anyway it beats being a wine press stomper with perpetually purple feet like Gad down at the vineyard!

Not too many people were beating down the corral gate to be a sheep herder. It was tough work with intermittent periods of sheer boredom. Aging before their time they were marginalized on the edges of society and constantly smelling a bit too “earthy” to be on the party invite “A” lists. To a man though, every shepherd took hope and pride in one piece of history; one of their very own from this very town of Bethlehem and maybe on this very hillside was noticed by God. As the youngest son of Jesse young David had been pushed to the most boring and remote fields to tend the family livestock. Arriving in Bethlehem at God’s prompting the prophet Samuel searched out the family of Jesse armed with the tool of his trade; oil to anoint a new King.

Every shepherd in these Judean hills kept dear the rich legacy of David’s rise from marginalized obscurity to the throne of Israel. What comfort swapping stories around the campfire thinking of David a thousand years earlier being so honored by God that he became king! On a starry night with the sheep settled down old Rueben would be asking again “Have I ever told you all about how David was plucked off of this very hill by a messenger of God back… what is that!” Fear grips the little group as multitudes of angels fill the night sky singing in heavenly voices right above the shepherd’s camp.  “What is happening?” “Don’t be afraid we bring good news of great joy…” “Are they really angels, God’s messengers?” “Can it be that we are being honored by God again?” But David only had one messenger of God while we have hundreds, what is going on!”

The biggest event in history was going on and who did God want to introduce to His Son first? These lowly shepherds marginalized by society and pushed out of the mainstream to care for sheep enjoyed the privilege. What an honor! Long ago a shepherd responded to God’s messengers and became a king. Now shepherds were responding to God’s messengers to worship the King of Kings. Can you imagine how they were accepted in town now as God’s honored ones?

God has always loved the outcast and marginalized of society; He has a heart for the poor and forgotten. God’s desire is to lift them up, comfort them and give them a purpose, a chance to worship the King of Kings. God wants everyone one to have the privilege of being introduced to His Son. And take a wild guess who God wants to reach out to these people as his messengers?

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This daily devotion is written by John Key

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