Caleb was puzzled. He had been training four other shepherds for a year now, and a new trainee, Micha, had been assigned to him last week. Caleb was accustomed to his helpers cooperating with him, and he was a little uneasy because they were late bringing in the sheep.
Being a shepherd wasn’t an easy task. Learning to know each animal by name was time-consuming, but that wasn’t the hardest part. Although shepherds need to know about the growing seasons, where the best fields are for grazing, what foliage is unhealthy for the critters, what predators are lurking nearby, how to fight them off, and how to tend the newborn and the wounded, a good shepherd also needs to know how to negotiate with other shepherds who may have trespassed into “their” territory. Caleb was wondering if a problem had erupted, so taking Micha with him, he decided to go out and find out what was happening.
It hadn’t rained for two weeks, so they walked more than an hour over several rather sparse hills to where Caleb had sent the men and flocks.
Tuvia saw Caleb first and joyfully shouted, “God is Good!”
“Not so loud, Tuvia. Yes, God is good. But you must be careful not to startle the sheep.”
“Oh Nahum, you’re always trying to comfort the sheep. But allow me some fun out here in the vast wilderness. I need to let off some energy, and the animals will survive.”
Caleb walked up to them, smiling. “I truly enjoy your enthusiasm, Tuvia. Please never let it leave you. But Nahum does have a point. Where is Levi?”
Ariel responded, “Levi is over the hill tending a ewe giving birth.” Micha immediately ran to watch.
“Over the hill, is he?” mused Caleb. “Well, I suppose we’ll be spending the night out here. It will be a warm and remarkably clear night for the middle of Tishrei (early October), and the sheep seem to be settling down. Yes. tell Levi and Micha to take their time; and Ariel, will you please prepare a meal for us?”
“Yes, Caleb, I’ll have it ready soon.”
After the meal a half-moon was glowing, the stars were shining brightly, a gentle breeze was wafting across the land. And Levi reported that the new birth was a healthy ram lamb.
But Micha sat apart from the rest. His parents taught him the prophecies that the Messiah should be coming soon. He was also taught to always look for deeper meanings to life’s experiences.
Suddenly, he sat up and looked around. He sensed something in the air. The others were relaxing and telling stories, but Micha jumped to his feet and cried out, “Look! Do you see what I see?”
Startled, the others quickly looked – then covering their faces in fear, they fell to the ground. A shining angel appeared and made an announcement! We read the angel’s announcement in Luke 2:10-12
Do not be afraid. I am bringing you good news that will be a great joy to all people. Today your Savior was born in the town of David. He is Christ, the Lord. This is how you will know him: You will find a new-born baby wrapped in white cloth, lying in a manger.
Then, many other glowing angels appeared which lit up the night sky; and they were shouting, “Glory to God in the highest! Peace to all men on earth!”
Or were they singing? It was hard to tell for their voices sounded musical.
The lead angel again told the shepherds not to be afraid and urged them to go.
Finally overcoming their fear, Caleb left Ariel with the sheep. The others followed the heavenly directions, taking a one-month-old lamb with them, and quickly went to Bethlehem. It was just as the angel announced: they found the stable where Joseph and Mary were. When they saw the new-born baby, who was declared by the angels to be God, Micha slowly knelt and softly but incredulously asked, “Look, do you see what I see?”
Caleb and the others, presenting the lamb as a gift, knelt beside Micha and looked at baby Jesus with profound awe.
Joseph announced, “His name is Yohoshua (Jesus) – God is salvation. He will save us from our sin-laden existence.”
Mary gently added, “The prophecy proclaimed he will also be called Immanuel, for he is ‘God with us’.” The shepherds joyfully returned to their flocks. But they told everyone they encountered about the newborn Christ, for their lives were changed forever!