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Insight Into the Christmas Story – Why Swaddling Clothes?A Hopeful Christmas Message for Military Spouses

As part of my studies this year, I learned some valuable insight as to how the shepherds could quickly find Jesus and why God chose for his son to be a “baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”. The cultural context adds much to our understanding. It’s likely the shepherds who were greeted by the heavenly hosts in Luke 2:11-13 were Levitical shepherds who had the job of raising and guarding the sheep used for sacrifice in the Jerusalem temple. There were special caves surrounding Bethlehem that were used for the sheep to give birth to the special lambs that would become sacrifices. The Passover lambs were raised in the land around Bethlehem. The caves were set aside for these sheep since they had to be kept ritually pure.


The shepherds were responsible for making sure the new little lambs did not obtain any defects since only lambs without spots or blemishes were suitable for the sacrifice. Since the little lambs were awkward when born, the shepherds would swaddle their newborn lambs to prevent them from becoming injured or blemished while getting their footing. The shepherds would swaddle the newborn lamps to protect them. So, the location of the birth, in this cave used for the sacrificial lambs was not an accident since Jesus would ultimately be the sacrificial lamb for us. When John the Baptist saw Jesus he said, “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Even in His birth, Jesus’ destiny was to be the sacrifice for all who would believe in Him.


So, when the shepherds encountered the angels that dark night, they knew that the place to find the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes was to go to the place where they found swaddling cloths – the caves used for the sacrificial lambs. For these shepherds and the Jewish people, they would have known that a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger was a sign that Jesus was born the Lamb of God who would indeed take the sacrifice for our sin.


Interestingly, the cloth used to make the swaddling strips was also significant. The strips were cut or torn old garments that the priests wore. These garment strips were also used to make the wicks of the Menorah that burned in the temple in Jerusalem. This light symbolized the eternal presence and promise of God. This shows us the symbolism, even at Jesus’ birth that he was a priest and would come to bring light into the world. When He came into the world, he came as the presence of God in human form – fully God yet fully man.


Military spouse, I’m praying for you today as you likely celebrate Christmas apart from your extended family and perhaps apart from your spouse who is deployed or otherwise busy keeping our nation and others safe.  Thank you for your sacrifice for the freedom our country enjoys. I hope you can meditate on this truth that Jesus came to die.  He came for you. He fulfilled every single one of the over 300 prophesies surrounding his birth, life, and death. He was the Passover lamb who died in our place. He is the greatest gift of all. Accept His gift of salvation today.

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Note: I learned this information from Rabbi Jason Sobel of

I'm releasing a book in October of 2024 called, Another Move, God? 30 Encouragements for Embracing Your Life as a Military Wife. To join the waiting list, please go here.

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1 Comment

Michelle Flores
Michelle Flores
Dec 28, 2023

This was a great devotional Beth! I loved the insights deeply! Praying for you, Sister!

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