The Sign Of The Babe Wrapped In Swaddling Clothes

It is written:

Luke 2:8-12-Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9  And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10  Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11  For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12  And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

The Bible teaches that the Baby Jesus would be found by the shepherds wrapped in swaddling clothes. This would be a “sign” for them. The word “sign” here carried with it the idea of something which was an indicator of something else, and which meant that there was a deeper meaning involved.

“Next, we must ask, What is so significant about the location in which they found Jesus? When it was time for one of their flock to give birth, the shepherds would bring the sheep into one of the caves surrounding Bethlehem that were used for this purpose. These birthing caves were kept in a state of ritual purity since these lambs were destined to be used as sacrifices in the temple. In fact, many of the male lambs born around Bethlehem would be used for the Passover. 1 Since there was no room in the local inn, Mary and Joseph used one of these caves around Bethlehem. Messiah was not born in a stable behind some Econo Lodge or Motel Six. He was born in one of the many caves used for birthing these sacrificial lambs, because He Himself would be the ultimate sacrificial Lamb. Not only would the location of Jesus’ birth be significant to these shepherds, but so would the fact that Jesus was swaddled in cloths. These shepherds were responsible for making sure that the new-born lambs did not contract defects, for only animals without spot or blemish could be used as a sacrifice in the temple. Baby lambs are very clumsy when they are born, so many scholars believe that these shepherds would swaddle their newborn lambs in order to prevent these future sacrificial lambs from becoming blemished by injuring themselves on jagged parts of the cave. Another key aspect of swaddling in ancient Israel was “salting” a new-born. After Jesus was born, Joseph would have washed and scrubbed Him with salt water. Practically, the salt killed any bacteria found on an infant’s body. But there is a lot of spiritual symbolism in this act as well. Salt was symbolic of friendship and loyalty in the ancient world; it was a sign of covenant, as in the phrase “a covenant of salt” (2 Chronicles 13: 5; Leviticus 2: 13; Numbers 18: 19). A common expression to denote friendship in Middle Eastern culture is, “There is salt between us.” A salt covenant is used to denote the eternal covenant of friendship and kingship that God made with David and his heirs: “Don’t you know that the LORD, the God of Israel, has given the kingship of Israel to David and his descendants forever by a covenant of salt?” (2 Chronicles 13: 5). Jesus was not only born in Bethlehem, which is the city of David, but He was also the promised Son of David, the Messiah and King who came to fulfill the Davidic covenant—God’s promise that one of David’s descendants would live on the throne forever—and to establish the new covenant spoken of in Jeremiah: “‘ The days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah’” (31: 31). Salt was also an indispensable part of every sacrifice offered in the temple, as we read in Leviticus: “You are to season with salt every sacrifice of your grain offering. You are never to allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be lacking from your grain offering. With all your sacrifices you must offer salt” (2: 13 TLV). Not only was Messiah born in the same location as the temple offering, but He was also washed in salt as part of the swaddling process, which points to His future sacrifice as the Passover Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world and inaugurate the new covenant (Jeremiah 31: 31).” (Kathie Lee Gifford, The Rock, the Road, and the Rabbi: My Journey into the Heart of Scriptural Faith and the Land Where It All Began, 35-37 (Kindle Edition); Nashville, TN: W. Publishing)

Through the swaddling and salting process, God was declaring that this Child would be the sacrifice for sin which would lead the way for mankind and God to become friends again. Through His death, burial, and resurrection on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8), Jesus has paved the way for believers who repent of their sins and are baptized into Him to be reconciled back to God (Acts 2:38; 1 John 1:9).

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

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