What exactly does that phrase mean? “Kicking against the goads” is not something we hear often in our day-to-day conversation! And yet, in Acts 26:14 the master Teacher delivers a powerful life-lesson in His exquisite, parabolic style that is simple, straight-forward, self-explanatory, and designed to sanctify every blood-bought saint. Throughout this week we will examine this verse, with the goal of gleaning three powerful truths:
- Part I – The Meaning of the Oxgoad
- Part II – The Master of the Oxgoad
- Part III – The Message of the Oxgoad
It is my prayer that every proud sinner who reads these messages will it be brought to his or her knees in thanksgiving for the One who did for us what we could never do for ourselves. Nowhere is that work more necessary than in the life of the chief sinner—me!
Part I – The Meaning of the Oxgoad
1st – The oxgoad is a long pole or stick with a pointed piece of iron fastened to one end. In the strong hands of a loving master, the ox is gently prodded, guided, steered, and driven in the desired direction when plowing the fields. When a stubborn ox attempts to kick back against the goad that is causing it discomfort, the ox will actually inflict more pain, driving the pointed end deeper into its flesh.
2nd – The oxgoad is designed for an ox and for no other beast. When Jesus likened the proud Pharisee Saul (and every child of God) with a brute beast, Saul’s heart likely pounded with incredible indignation. By birth a Jew, by citizenship a Roman, by education a Greek, “as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless” (Philippians 3:6 NASB), Saul was a Pharisee of Pharisees. He sat at the top of the spiritual “food chain” in Jerusalem, and now Jesus of Nazareth is comparing him to a bovine!
However, when you consider this for a moment, you realize that the comparison to an ox was actually a greater insult to the beast! Oxen did exactly what God created them to do—serve and glorify the One who created them. Oxen bend their necks to the yoke and to the one true God, who has placed man over them as ruler and lord. Man is the only creature who refuses to submit to the revealed will of his Creator.
King David, possessing much greater self-awareness than Saul of Tarsus, freely confessed, “When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you” (Psalm 73:21-22).
As we close out Part I, here are just a few examples of oxgoads God uses in the lives of His people:
Sermons; suffering; doctrine; difficulty; adversity; affliction; godly counsel; holy confrontation; conviction of the Holy Spirit; financial reversal; business failure; academic probation
You might like to take some time to identify other oxgoads you have kicked against in the past. What was the result of your rebellion? Did you find that your pain actually increased as you resisted? What would you do differently today? Remember, all Scripture, rightly understood, is an oxgoad—both to the sinner and the saint. This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT…AMEN!