It is HIS WAY!
Paul stands before King Herod Agrippa explaining his encounter with the risen Lord Jesus:
“O King, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining all around me… And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ “And I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting” (Acts 26:13-15, emphasis mine).
Jesus calls Paul (his Roman name) by his Hebrew name “Saul” and tells him “It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” What is THAT?
The bible is full of idioms (a common expression known to a specific culture or era). “Kicking against the goads” was a Greek proverb painting a picture the ancient culture easily understood. A goad was much like our current day cattle prod (minus the electric current). Farmers would use a pointed stick with a piece of iron on its tip to urge or prod a stubborn ox forward or along the guided path. Often the ox (in resistance) would kick against it. When doing so, the ox caused more pain for themselves. The Greeks used this saying to imply “ruinous resistance.” Paints a picture, doesn’t it? It narrows down to this: unyielding rebellion is the refusal to accept or comply resulting in self destructive habits.
Kicking against the goads.
Paul was a contemporary of Jesus’ time. Scholars believe they both may have been in Jerusalem at the same time, resulting in Paul hearing or seeing Jesus speak. Paul stood by as Stephen gave glorious testimony of Jesus. Paul had ample opportunities regarding Jesus. But he refused. Jesus rebukes Paul, telling him that he was only hurting himself in resisting the truth. Resisting Him. He had to learn the hard way – resisting Jesus is a losing battle. Not to mention (but I will) a losing battle that WILL (like Paul) knock you on your butt.
When reading the bible, we remember that there are specific words or warnings to specific people, yet in principle, it is for us as well. Jesus says this to Paul but packs a punch likewise for us. Are we actively in stubborn resistance? How often do we sabotage our own spiritual growth by opposing God? Like it or not. Resist it or not. God is sovereign. It is HIS WAY! Solomon wrote, “Stern discipline awaits him who leaves the path” (Prov 15:10a). Stay on the path!
Kicking against the goads may come in many forms. Jonah is a great example. God pointed in one direction – he went in another. His “goad” got him a dark smelly fish belly. What does your goad look like? Is yours a smelly mess? Or sharp jabs? Point to ponder.
Listen to the pains of consequences – by resisting God’s authority we are only punishing ourselves, “ruinous resistance.”
Kicking against the goads.
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)