Stephanie Pavlantos: O Holy Night
“O Holy Night” is one of my favorite Christmas songs.
Although it probably didn’t seem that holy giving birth in a cave with sheep around, God knew exactly where and when His Son would be born. Levitical shepherds who raised the sacrificial sheep for the temple priests surrounded baby Jesus—they were the ones angels told first. The shepherds washed the newborn lambs with saltwater and swaddled them in pieces of old priestly garments (because the worn-out garments could not be thrown away) to keep the lambs spotless and without blemish.
What was the sign to the shepherds God told them they would see? The baby Jesus swaddled in the same way—with the pieces of priestly garments. He was the sacrificial Lamb of God.
People and shepherds used salt water as a wash to rid the skin (or wool) of bacteria, preventing infection. But it had another meaning as well. The salt covenant was a friendship covenant that is still used in the Middle East today. Men carry small salt bags on their belts and mix the salt together when they enter into a covenant with each other because the salt could not be un-mixed—therefore, neither could the covenant. It was a binding legal covenant.
Ought you not to know that the Lord God of Israel gave the kingship over Israel forever to David and his sons by a covenant of salt?~2 Chronicles 13:5 ESV
Jews sprinkled salt on every sacrifice given to God, from animal to grain sacrifice.
You shall season all your grain offerings with salt. You shall not let the salt of the covenant with your God be missing from your grain offering; with all your offerings, you shall offer salt.~Leviticus 2:13 ESV
Jesus, our High Priest, wore the garments of the priests before he wore any other clothing.
For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.~Hebrews 5:1 ESV
The worn-out priestly garments were also used to protect God’s Word—the scrolls. The priests wrapped each scroll in pieces of the garments to protect them—just as the Word made flesh was.
It’s hard to imagine how the Jewish people of that day could have missed all the signs God gave them—but don’t be too hard on them—we are no different. We have the complete Word of God and the Holy Spirit to guide us, yet if we don’t open His Book or pray and ask the Holy Spirit to guide and speak to us, we too will miss the blessings and paths He has prepared for us.
Read God’s Good News or Besorah (in Hebrew). It is still Good News today—Christ our Savior was born to save us from sin and shame. We have eternal life through the Lamb of God.
Have you chosen to make Jesus your Savior?
Dear Father of Lights, You have given us Your Son to be our Light in this dark world. You chose us to be Yours. Thank you for Your most precious gift. Jesus and Salvation for us.
In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Copyright 2021: O Holy Night: Stephanie Pavlantos: All Rights Reserved.