Encourage0gram March 13, 2017
Dear Brothers and Sisters who love Jesus.
I have been thinking about “goads” lately. This term appears three times in Scripture.
NIV 1 Samuel 13:21 The price was two-thirds of a shekel for sharpening plow points and mattocks, and a third of a shekel for sharpening forks and axes and for repointing goads.
A goad is an instrument used to prod an animal like an ox forward. It is reasonable that they would be sharp so they are effective. The goad in the hands of the Master is a very useful tool. The prodding can hurt but in the end, we can be thankful for it.
NIV Ecclesiastes 12:11 The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails-- given by one shepherd.
The Preacher tells us that his words are like goads. His wisdom can direct us away from foolishness. The process may be uncomfortable but necessary. We have all sinned and fall short of God’s glory. Goads are used to call us to Him or call us to return to the Shepherd of our lives.
NIV Acts 26:14 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.'
On the road to Damascus to persecute Christians, Saul of Tarsus is confronted by Jesus Christ. Jesus identifies with His children who are being persecuted. They do not suffer alone; He suffers with them. Across church history, we see many examples of this. Every act of persecution or hatred directed against a follow of Jesus, is directed at Him. As His ambassadors, we should not be surprised when we are insulted. He was a man of sorrows acquainted with grief just like us. Jesus made this very clear in the Sermon on the Mount.
NIV Matthew 5:10-12 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
His use of a goad image here indicates that Jesus was seeking to correct Saul. We can only imagine the tools He used to prod Saul in the right direction. We have one very clear example in the testimony of Stephen in Acts 7. And with every goad of persuasion, came the kick of the rebel, Saul. But ultimately, the power and grace of Jesus won out in Saul’s life. The terrorist became the evangelist!
While Paul does not use the picture of a goad, he teaches us about the four-fold function of the Word of God.
NIV 2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Certainly, rebuking and correcting are like goads. They confront us with what is not right and show us the way back! Give thanks for the ministry of the Word and the Holy Spirit which can be like a goad!
Be encouraged by this John Newton poem as you follow Jesus this week.
Though many foes beset you round,
And feeble is your arm,
Your life is hid with Christ in God
Beyond the realm of harm.
Weak as you are you shall not fade,
Or fainting shall not die;
Jesus the strength of every saint,
Will aid you from on high.
Though unperceived by mortal sense,
Faith sees Him always near,
A Guide, a glory, a defense,
What have you to fear?
As surely as He overcame,
And triumphed once for you,
So surely you that love His name,
Shall in Him triumph too!
Your servant for Jesus’ sake,