In Biblical times, shepherds (1 Samuel 17:34-37) would sometimes have to defend their flock from meat-eating bears and lions. They had to rescue members of their flocks from such mortal dangers as ferocious animals, or simply lift one or another out of a pit. Whatever the issue, shepherds were there 24/7 to care for their flock.
Shepherds were brave and skillful men who certainly earned their living.
On the night of our Lord’s birth several shepherds were grazing their sheep on the pastureland east of Bethlehem. In an instant they were confronted with something they had never witnessed before. Suddenly and unannounced a luminous being stood before them and terrified them greatly.
They had never seen anything like this creature. Their terror was witnessed by the angel and so he told them to stop being terrified. Then the angel spoke words of comfort and great encouragement to them.
The reason why the shepherds were to cease being terrified was because the Messiah had been born that very night in Bethlehem not far away.
The angel went on to give them a sign by which they could recognize the right child. He would be wrapped in swaddling cloths and was lying in a manger. Other newborns might be wrapped in swaddling cloths in Bethlehem that night but only one would be in a manger.
What we learn from the shepherds fear is that we should have a healthy fear when we approach God in prayer and worship, not blind terror. Psalm 111:10 reads, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…”. (NIV)
We begin to learn wisdom when we have a holy reverence, respect and submission to the Lord. That is true fear of God.
Before the shepherds could rejoice and be glad over the coming of Messiah, they experienced a holy fear. They began a spiritual journey that night as they showed the proper attitude of fear. Joy and excitement would come later, but here was the first attitude to exhibit in order to begin the great spiritual journey that leads from this life to heaven.
Has the Lord come to you and made himself known in such a manner that you learned to fear Him? Do you have a holy reverence for Him? Have you submitted your whole life and being to Him?
This Christmas, cultivate the spirit of the shepherds and become wise.
The Lord waits to hear from you. Approach Him with the same reverence, submission and respect the shepherds demonstrated that first Christmas night. He wishes to meet with you now.