By Bro. Willy Nakar
Hur was a shepherd boy during the reign of Caesar Augustus. His father made sure that his son knew about the shepherd who became a king, the one whom God called “a man after My own heart.” He told the boy how responsible David was in his role as shepherd, how he loved God and sang songs of praise as he tended his father’s sheep. He also explained to him that David’s devotion to God in simple, innocent ways made him strong as he effectively fended off animals that wanted to attack the herd under his care.
Whenever a predator came to carry off a sheep from the flock, David immediately went after it and rescued the prey from the animal’s mouth. On separate occasions, David had killed a lion and a bear with his own hands while protecting his sheep.
The boy’s favorite part in David’s life story, which he often asked his father to retell, was how David slew Goliath, the giant Philistine. He enjoyed the story of how David hit the forehead of Goliath using only a stone which he hurled with a sling. The shepherd boy had already memorized what David cried out against the giant warrior as they were both preparing for mortal combat.
“You come against me with sword and spear and scimitar, but I come against you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel that you have insulted.”
When Hur was a little older, his father called him aside. “Dear son, I want you to know that we are members of a very special clan that God has raised up. We belong to the Ephrathites of Bethlehem. This is the clan of King David. His Ephrathites ascendants include Elimelech, Naomi and Boaz, who married Ruth, a Moabite woman. They had a son Obed who was the father of Jesse; Jesse in turn became the father of David.
“Some 700 years ago, the prophet Micah prophesied to Bethlehem that the awaited Messiah would come from our clan, that He would be born in our small town.
But you, Bethlehem-Ephrathah, too small to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel; whose origin is from of old, from ancient times. (Therefore the Lord will give them up, until the time when she who is to give birth has borne and the rest of his brethren shall return to the children of Israel.) He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock by the strength of the Lord. (Mi 5:1-3)
“I don’t know when it will happen but we believe that it will happen. For God speaks to us through His prophets. It is such as honor for us to belong to the clan that stands for ‘fruitfulness,’ because its fruit will be the salvation of our people through the coming of the Anointed One.
“This is why I want you to be watchful and expectant, especially when you’re out in the fields during the night watch, just before the rainy season. You never can tell. It could happen in your watch.”
Hur could only look at his father in awe, adding with respect, “Yes, Father.”
Bethlehem, which means “house of bread,” is located in the Judean highlands some eight kilometers south of Jerusalem. It is situated at an altitude of some 2,550 feet above sea level, an elevation higher than Jerusalem itself. The countryside, though rocky, produced olives, grapes, and different cereals.
Historically, the region of Bethlehem has a large number of limestone caves which have served even in modern times as shelters both for animals and for people.
At the appointed time, the Blessed Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus in Bethlehem. Though Mary became pregnant in Nazareth of Galilee, she gave birth to Jesus in Bethlehem of Judea, in order to fulfill the divine prophecy. With the help of her spouse, Joseph, she wrapped the Child in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger, a feeding place for animals. During that time, even as in the present, mangers were cut in the rock wall of caves that were used for sheltering animals.
That same evening, Hur was in the fields together with other shepherds as they took turns in keeping night watch over their flocks. At one point, he was the only one awake while the others slept. As Hur was looking up at a clear sky, he noticed a star that was unusually bright. He noticed it before but it appeared closer to earth now than in previous days. Moreover, there was a powerful ray of light that stretched downward, as if pointing to a particular location in the south hill of the town.
Suddenly, from the brightest part of the star came a beam of light. It zoomed to where Hur was. In two seconds, the shepherd was bathed in unimaginable radiance. Thinking that he was just seeing things, he covered his eyes with his hands then looked again. He had difficulty seeing since his eyes had been open all the time in the dark of night. Soon enough, as he squinted twice, he saw a man dressed in linen with a belt of fine gold around his waist. His body was like chrysolite, his face shown like lightning, his eyes were like fiery torches, and his arms and feet looked like burnished bronze. Hur was frightened, having encountered an angel for the first time.
The angel spoke, “Hur , beloved shepherd, fear not! I am appearing to you first because you were waiting for this day, the coming of the Messiah.” The voice of the angel sounded like the roar of a multitude. “He is the Son of God; He is also Son of David, a kin of yours. The Lord wants you to lead the other shepherds to the place of His birth in a cave nearby. The Star of Bethlehem will guide you there. In the fullness of time, He will shepherd His people Israel. He will be the Chief Shepherd of all shepherds. Hallelujah!”
At this point, the other shepherds awoke and they saw the angel. The glory of the Lord shone around them and they were very much afraid. The angel said to them, “You have nothing to fear! I come to proclaim good news to you—tidings of great joy to be shared by the whole people. This day in David’s city a Savior has been born to you, the Messiah and Lord. Let this be a sign to you: In a manger you will find an Infant wrapped in swaddling clothes.”
Suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.”
It was like heaven and earth coming together to sing and celebrate the most important event in the universe. The music heard filled not only the shepherds’ ears but also their whole being. It seemed like all of creation had been waiting just for this day! The shepherds were lost in an empyrean symphony of glory that paralleled the celebration accompanying the foundation of the earth, “While the morning stars sang in chorus and all the sons of God shouted for joy” (Job 38:7).
As sudden as their coming, the angels disappeared after that period of praise. Remembering the instructions of the angel, Hur immediately proposed to the others, “Let us go over to the place where the Messiah is and see this event which the Lord has made known to us.”
They went in haste, guided by the starlight hovering over a particular cave in the Judean hills. Upon arrival at the site, there was no mistaking the God-presence that radiated from inside the cave. Hur was the first to enter while the others followed meekly. They saw Mary and Joseph, and the Baby lying in the manger. Hur smiled at Mary and Joseph as if to say, “What a wonderful day; what a blessed night!” He then looked at the Baby and asked, “May I know His name?” the child’s parents almost answered in unison, “Yeshua” (Jesus).
At the sound of the Child’s name, silence came upon the whole place like a dense and tangible peace. Little did they know that the name was destined to be the Name above every other name (Philippians 2:10). Their hearts were filled with gladness. And time stood still.
It came at exactly the right time. The soft voice of Hur gently invited all the shepherds present to herald the birth of Immanuel (“God with us”) with the song that David sung:
The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me
Your rod and Your staff,
They comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
In the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house
Of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23:1-6)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bro Willy Nakar is Presiding Elder of Elim Communities and a servant-leader in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. He and his wife, Luli, founded Elim Communities, and are prime examples of how God can use surrendered individuals to impact the world. Having encountered the Lord in a personal way in 1980, they have learned to apply spiritual principles in their lives and have experienced numerous victories. Together with their family, they have dedicated their time, talents and resources for the spread of the Gospel in the country and abroad. They are the happy grandparents of seven grandchildren.