Tuesday, April 3, 2007

It's all about Goats

Jesus in Matt. 25:33 talks about the final judgment when God will separate the sheep from the goats. I often wondered why God called the ones He sent to His left – the ones who would be cast out of His presence- goats.

Then I had a goat for a pet and I wondered no more!!
My angora goat, named Tasha, showed me what undesirable behavior looks like .
Though she was a lot of fun, displaying very strong characteristics and I loved her, she made me determine that I would never be a ‘goat’ in God’s eyes.

Tasha loved to have her freedom, but when she was afraid she knew where to come for protection, and would come running to press her body close against my legs. But then as soon as the danger was past , she was off again, not really caring if I was there or not.
Are people not often like that? We are so quick to pray for God’s help when things are difficult but then when the crisis is passed we are quite happy once again to do our life independent from God.

Tasha had a very curious habit . When she was out grazing and getting her nose into whatever struck her fancy she would sometimes get her nose dirty with slug slime or clay or something else she shouldn’t have been into. When that happened she would look for me and come to rub her nose roughly against my clothes to get it clean again.
A rather easily recognized human tendency, isn’t it? We love to experience the things the world has to offer , or satisfy the demands of the flesh, and then when it no longer feels good or we get into trouble, we run to God and demand that He ‘fix’ it for us and make us feel good again.

Tasha had her own little barn and fenced in enclosure, but she didn’t like to be there. She wanted to run free, and could never understand why I insisted on putting her back into her fenced area. She did not understand that I did it because I could not trust her to stay where she was safe. I knew she would wander off and get into trouble and very possibly hurt or even killed.
Just as she balked at being kept ‘safe’ , do we not also rebel against the restrictions God sometimes puts around us? We want to be free to do and go where we want but God closes us in, through circumstances of life , – for our own protection but we don’t understand and rebel against it.

I used to feed Tasha her grain at a regular time every day and let her run free. She had an inner clock that told her when it was time and if I was late getting home she would be furious and would let me know in no uncertain terms that she was not amused. She would bleat her displeasure and lower her head , butting against me. It was rather funny, but when I thought about how often people get angry at God because He doesn’t do things when and how they think He should , it was embarrassing to see how it looked played out by a goat!!

Tasha had an insatiable appetite for things she shouldn’t eat. Even though we had six acres of wild vegetation and forest growth and there was so much natural food for her to munch on, she always preferred the things she wasn’t supposed to eat. I would buy new plants and plant them – being careful not to let her see me do it. But when I let her out of her fence she would take a quick look around and make a bee line for whatever I had planted and try to get there to eat it before I could stop her. If I yelled at her , “NO, Tasha !” she would turn around and give me an angry butt with her head and then determinedly eat whatever I had planted. I never did figure out how she could so easily pick out the things I did not want her to eat!
Isn’t that like us too? God has given us so much to enjoy but what do we like? The things that are forbidden to us… the things that glitter and taste worldly, and when God warns us we just become angry at Him and find a way to do it anyway !

Tasha was a goat – stubborn, and willful, and determined to have her own way. She wanted me to be there for her in case she needed me and to supply her with the things she wanted , but she didn’t want to obey me. The older she got she did not get better , rather she became even more ornery and contankerous. Rather an accurate but sad caricature of human nature in relationship with God, isn’t it?

It is the Easter week when we are thinking about the reason Jesus came to earth , to die for all the ‘goats’ so they could become His sheep.
In Leviticus 16 there is an account of the rituals that God commanded the priest to perform to make atonement for the people’s sin. The ceremonies involves two goats. One was called the sin offering and the other was the scapegoat. These two goats shadowed the atoning work of Jesus.
One goat was killed as the sin offering and its blood was brought behind the veil into the holy of holies to make atonement for the people’s sin and transgression. When the blood was taken into the holy place by the high priest, no other man was allowed to witness it. The atoning work finished, the high priest then came back out to the live goat. He put his hands on the head of this scapegoat and confessed over it all the iniquities of the people and send it away into the wilderness. The high priest then washed his body and put on clean garments.

Do you see the picture? Jesus was killed as the sin offering for the sins of all mankind. He, the High Priest, died alone, and the atoning work that was done in heaven no man could witness. But when the work was done the veil in the temple was rent signifying that now the sin debt was paid in full and man was free to enter into a relationship with God. Jesus went to His Father and changed his human sinful garment for the holy garment of Righteousness.
The scapegoat that was sent away represented the resurrection of Jesus. The two goats together shadowed that Jesus would die but then rise again. He bore our sin and took it away so that we could be forgiven never to have our sin remembered again.

“But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come…… not with the blood of goats … but with His own blood He entered the Most High place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” Heb. 9:11,12


Lovella ♥ said...

Julie you once again capture the analogy perfectly.

You are so gifted in your writing and you have a gentle heart to lead us to the Lamb of God.

Lovella ♥ said...

I love the goat. What a cutie. She does have a glint in her eye doesn't she?

Julie said...

Oh, yes! and that glint in her eye was the tip of the iceberg!!

Carolanne said...

This is spot on!

Demara said...

Yes may God be glorified for giving us stubborn goats mercy~What an excellent Father we have!