Why Animals Witnessed the Birth of Christ
When we think about the story of the birth of Christ we think fondly of the child being born in the city of Bethlehem in a stable laying in a manger wrapped in cloths. He is there because there is no room in the inn and it seems that the underlying reason might have something to do with His coming in humility. I believed that to be the predominant reason until recently I saw a deeper theological implication. In fact, the truth deepened my understanding of God’s faithfulness and thoroughness.
History reveals that Mary and Joseph had to journey to Bethlehem to take part in a census decreed by Caesar Augustus of all the inhabited earth. (Luke 2:1) Behind the earthly command there was heavenly purpose that would have Mary deliver the Child in Bethlehem, the city of David, in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. (Micah 5:2) Added to that, I believe there was a greater reason for His birth being in a stable than just the fact of there not being room in the inn. I believe Jesus was born in the stable to fulfill a promise that dates back to the first chapters in Genesis.
In Genesis 1:24-28 it states that the animals were created before Adam and that he would rule over them. It was while he was naming the animals that Adam learned that there was no one corresponding to him and the result was God creating the woman who would be known as Eve. So, animals were present to witness the creation of man and woman who would have dominion over them. But that is not all they witnessed. They were present to witness the fall of Adam and Eve and when the couple used leaves to try to hide their shame (Genesis 3:7). It was an innocent animal that would be the first to feel the penalty of sin.
“And the Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.” (Genesis 3:21). From the beginning plants could never be a sufficient substituionary sacrifice for Adam and Eve’s sin because only a creature with “owr” (Hebrew) or skin, the word used only for the skins of man or and animal, would suffice. From that time on an unblemished animal, probably a lamb, would represent the temporary solution for sin until the time would come for the Lamb of God to come to earth to once and for all atone for the sins of mankind. Until then a sacrificial animal’s blood would be the covering and the temporary price paid for sin.
To me it’s no wonder that Jesus was born in a stable and rested in a feeding trough. Animals had witnessed the creation of man and woman, were present at the sinful fall of mankind, and became the first to die because of sin. It’s fitting that their representatives should be the first to look upon the Christ child and behold the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world. Yes, He was born in Bethlehem to fulfill prophecy, but I believe He was born in a stable to fulfill a promise. God truly is faithful and thorough even when we might not think so.
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