I rotate with a group of three teachers in our Sunday morning eighth grade Bible class. We have an online curriculum we follow with topics listed on a website each week. This week’s lesson was centered on the Messianic prophecies and why Christ was born the way He was born, lived the way He lived and why He had to die for us.
One of the primary focuses of the lesson was that all of these things happened to fulfill prophecy.
Over the course of the last several years I have read most everything written by Bodie and Brock Thoene. They are a husband and wife team, she is the primary writer and he is a historian. Together they have written novels that are so solid in historical fact they are used in many university classrooms to help students gain a better grasp of history and the life experience of the time period they are studying.
They have written extensively about the early west in the United States, the rise of the Nazi party and the Jewish people through World War II, on into the establishment of Israel as a country and a few years ago they began publishing their latest work which is a historical novelization of the time period when Christ lived.
It is within those novels that I gained a better and more significant understanding of why Christ was born the way He was born. Of course the City of David was the town of the prophecy but also significant is a historical observation the Thoene’s make in their novels.
Bethlehem was the home for the shepherds responsible for the lamb sacrifices at the temple in Jerusalem. Probably because of convenience those traveling to Jerusalem opted to purchase a lamb upon their arrival and history shows that the Bethlehem community was responsible for providing those lambs. So not only was Christ born in the city of David as prophecy foretold but the last Lamb sacrifice was born among the lambs set aside for the temple as well.
The Thoene’s, also make a beautiful illustration of why Christ had to die in a little book they published for Christmas called “Why a Manger?” In this book Bodie tells of a Christmas back in 1985 when their young eve had suddenly died giving birth and left a motherless lamb. The same night another ewe in their flock had given birth to a still born lamb. Unsuccessfully they tried to coax the surviving ewe into accepting the orphaned lamb.
Finally the veterinarian said he knew of an old trick shepherds used to help an orphan lamb be accepted by a different mother but it wasn’t pretty. It involved hiding the live lamb under the fleece of the dead lamb.
They agreed it was worth a try and after taking both lambs away the Vet and Brock returned with the live lamb wrapped in the fleece of the ewe’s stillborn baby.
The lamb was placed in the feeding trough, ‘the manger’ so the ewe could discover the lamb on her own. I am sure by now you can see where this is going.
The Thoene’s and the vet stepped back and watched as the ewe began to sniff at the orphan lamb recognizing the scent of her lamb she nudged the lamb out of the trough and encourage the lamb to nurse. Wrapped in the fleece of her lamb she now accepted the orphaned lamb as her own.
But it doesn’t end there.
On Saturday as I wrapped up our schools 8th grade trip to Washington D.C. I had about 5 minutes to grab lunch and sat briefly with a friend in the Reagan Center. Knowing Beth loved a good Bible study I began talking with her about the illustration I just shared with you from the Thoene’s book.
Beth was raised on a farm like I was but had more experience with livestock. When I finished telling her of the Thoene’s Christmas in the stable her eyes lit up and she said. “Now I know why we are having lunch together even if it is only for a couple of minutes.” she said she also remembered how difficult it was to try and get an adoptive mother to accept a orphaned offspring but knew that the key was to get the baby to nurse and the scent of the mother would spread throughout the baby and she would recognize it as her own. I looked at her a little confused not really understanding her point at first until she said, “Don’t you see? That is the Holy Spirit.”
Then it hit me, how the illustration was now complete with my rushed ‘accidental’ lunch encounter.
Christ the last Lamb sacrifice covers us in His blood making us acceptable to His father just as the still born lamb did for the orphaned lamb. Then once accepted through drinking in what the father has to offer the Holy Spirit fills us up with His essence. The more we drink the stronger that essence becomes allowing us to not only be a part of the family but to stand out with His Aroma for the world around us.
I then reminded the kids it is not our works, our deeds, our church attendance or our observation of religious holidays that save us but the blood of Christ. However, when we drink from what God has to offer, the study of the word, fellowship with our Christian family, working with those in need. That is when the Holy Spirit fills us up to over flowing and the Light of the Holy Spirit Shines
2 Corinthians 2:15 For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.
Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.