It’s a part of the Christmas story many of us just rattle off without giving it a second thought.
Luke 2:12, “And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”
But why did the Angels tell the sheperds to specifically look for a “babe wrapped in swaddling clothes”? In pondering this question, I found some interesting verses in Old Testament prophecy.
Ezekiel 16: 4-6, “ And as for thy nativity, on the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to soothe thee. Thou wast not salted at all, nor swaddled at all. No eye pitied thee to do any of these unto thee, to have compassion upon thee; but thou wast cast out in the open field, to the loathing of thy person on the day that thou wast born. And when I passed by thee and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, ‘Live’; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, ‘Live.’
In this Old Testament passage, God is describing how the nation of Israel was born and Israel was rejected by the world, but God showed mercy and adopted Israel as his own. If you read Ezekiel 16 further, God even talks about how he wraps the infant nation of Israel in swaddling clothes. A sign of his love and protection.
As a parent, I too swaddled my newborn children. Swaddling an infant helps them keep warm, it restricts movement of limbs much like a baby in the womb, and helps soothe the infant. Our nurse even instructed my wife and I to hold our swaddled infant close to our hearts so they could hear our heart beat, which also helps calm the infant.
I’d like to think that the Angels specifically told the sheperds to search for a “babe wrapped in swaddling clothes” because they would remember that passage from Ezekiel. They would remember how God took care of the nation of Israel and how in those dark days of much uncertainty the swaddled babe would remind them of God’s covenant with them. It would remind them that God once again was wrapping the newborn King of Israel in his love and protection, and through this swaddled babe — that swaddling of love and protection would come to all mankind.
My encouragement to you this Christmas is to once again seek the “babe wrapped in swaddling clothes”. Remember the promises that God has made to each of us and put your fears aside. We are swaddled in the love, protection, and grace of our heavenly King.