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Christmas Lessons from Shepherds


Shepherds in the Middle East were not old men with beards, but children. Even today, preteen girls shepherd family flocks in Bedawin communities in Israel. In my recent trip to Israel, I got to learn Christmas lessons with real shepherds.

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Christmas is all about shepherds. Micah 5:2 predicted that a ruler would be born in Bethlehem who would shepherd Israel. This shepherding leader would have origins which are everlasting. Upon reading this prophecy, the Jewish audience would immediately think of Psalms 23, "The Lord is my shepherd..."

They would think, "This is the Lord, the ultimate shepherd, being born in Bethlehem." What does it mean to be Shepherded by this Christmas leader? On a recent trip to Israel, I visited with some Bedawin communities who still shepherd in the fields of Israel. I was shocked and impacted by these Christmas lessons.

In Christmas children's pageants, we dress up young kids with fake beards and crooked staffs to play shepherds. However, in a biblical times like today, preteen girls are usually shepherds. Sometimes they shepherd with an even younger brother sitting on the donkey with her. They lead the family's flocks for 20 or more miles from home to find food.

We watched this young shepherd girl lead a huge flock through the hills and rocky terrain. These sheep knew her voice and followed her. These sheep enjoyed green pastures, but "green pastures" were not what I imagined as an American who envisioned golf courses and fields.

image1 (Photo: Courtesy of Author)

I took a photo of some "green pastures" which are small clumps or sometimes a few blades of grass that push through the rocky soil. These are not fields of abundance. The shepherd leads the sheep to a clump that is "just enough" to get that lamb to the next meal. The sheep stay in constant dependence to the shepherd to find their next meal.

The shepherd leads them in well worn paths that are still called, "The paths of righteousness" today. As we watched, they were leading both a flock of sheep and goats. The sheep followed the shepherd directly while the goats wandered back and forth. Though all the animals were following the shepherd, there was a clear distinction between the sheep who responded to the shepherd's voice by following right behind her and the goats' approach. The goats usually thought they had found a better way to get where the shepherd was leading.

(Photo: Courtesy of Author) (Photo: Courtesy of Author)

This Christmas, I really want abundance. I really think I need golf course green pastures. God knows I need just enough to get to the next place in life. He knows what I need more than limitless green fields is a life of dependence on Him and his voice.

Jesus came to earth and proclaimed himself to be the Great Shepherd. This claim to deity was announced by angels to the shepherds and fulfilled in the greatest act of a shepherd: to lay down his life for his sheep.

Merry Christmas.

For more information, check out Godonomics DVD at, Godonomics: How to Save Our Country and Protect Your Wallet whoever books are sold, or Fast Track Bible DVD curriculum at

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