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  • David Lee Brown

Shepherds Watching Their Flocks by Night

In Luke 2:8, we read, "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night." Speculators in the last decade or so have brought this into question. Specifically concerning Christ Jesus' birth. I once was inclined to believe these experts, but over the past few years, I have become increasingly skeptical about "experts." I feel personal research gleans better information than theory, flights of fancy, and nonsense. This notion of Jesus not being born in winter is yet another speculative unprovable bunch of nonsense. Who cares when Jesus was born? Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall is an unanswerable question that the Bible doesn't mention. So, is it possible that all the Christmas Winter scenes are fine with no need for change? Let's take a realistic look.


Could Shepherds Watch Their Flocks by Night in Winter, in Bethlehem?

The short answer is yes! Shepherds are watching over their flocks in winter to this very day. Oh, but isn't it too cold for that? No, it's not. If you have a globe, place your finger on southern Israel, then follow that latitude around until you reach the USA. Your finger will pass through Algeria, Morocco, and then across the Atlantic Ocean to Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, and the far north of Mexico. So, can you stay out all night watching your sheep at this latitude? Well, of course, you can! And the people of many of these regions have been for centuries or even millennia. It's uncomfortable but still necessary to feed your sheep, or at least it was during the first century. Many shepherds would not have large fenced areas to hold their sheep. Therefore, they must watch them at night in the field.


The best speculation I've heard is from UCG.org, "It was during this time of temple service that Zacharias learned that he and his wife Elizabeth would have a child (Luke 1:8-13). After he completed his service and traveled home, Elizabeth conceived (Luke 1:23-24). Assuming John's conception took place near the end of June, adding nine months brings us to the end of March as the most likely time for John's birth. Adding another six months (the difference in ages between John and Jesus) brings us to the end of September as the likely time of Jesus' birth."[1] But if you look at the language, you can clearly see that this is an assumption. Others assume Spring and yet another Summer, but it doesn't matter in the long run!


Shepherds Watching Their Flocks by Night Conclusion

From rampant idle speculation to those that want to discontinue the celebration of Christ's birth, this distraction is a work of Satan. He is trying to divide, confuse, and distract Christians. So, while we're arguing amongst ourselves, we lose track of what is clearly the purpose of the holiday. It is to bring to remembrance the miraculous birth of our Lord Jesus. That is what it's all about! So, who cares about the exact date? The Christmas holiday brings to remembrance the miraculous birth of our Lord Jesus. That's what Christmas is all about. Can I get an, Amen?

[1] "Biblical Evidence Shows Jesus Christ Wasn't Born on Dec. 25." United Church of God. Accessed December 17, 2022. https://www.ucg.org/the-good-news/biblical-evidence-shows-jesus-christ-wasnt-born-on-dec-25.

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