What Does the Scripture Say About Goats?

 In Preaching & Teaching

Not too far from what I call “home”, there was a farm market that my dad and brother used to stop at, apparently a lot. My brother was only about 9 at the time and us girls didn’t know this was a favorite stop of theirs.  I don’t remember ever seeing any evidence of things they would buy. Evidently, they ate what they bought on the way home. One time, my brother and we can’t remember who all was with him, were in the back of my pickup truck. (Don’t worry, it had a cab on it and of course it was a different world back then.) We were about to go by this place when, all of a sudden, the truck stopped and before I could try to start it, he was at my window telling me that he wanted us to go to that market – they had the BEST goat’s milk fudge and he wanted some. I was concerned about what was going on with the truck and all he could do was go on about this fudge. He ran to get in the back confident that he would get his fudge. Oddly enough, the truck started. Of course, I turned into the market so my brother could get his fudge. I was a little worried that if it could, would the truck to stop for fudge. I might be in real trouble if I didn’t let him get some. I never had trouble with the truck after that and I’ve always teased him that he made that truck stop at just the right time and place so he could get his goat’s milk fudge.

A barnyard would not be complete without a goat or two. So this month we will look at goats and the role they play within the scriptures. But first some fun or interesting facts about goats.

  • Baby goats are called Kids, a momma giving birth is said to be kidding.
  • Goats love to climb.
  • Goats use the sneeze to alert other goats that danger is near.
  • Goats are able to tell the difference between happy and angry human faces and prefer it when we smile at them.
  • Goats are able to develop their own accents based on their surroundings.  I wonder if that means that southern goats get made fun of because of their accents?

And one more that I had to include. Goats burp – LOUDLY. There is a scientific reason behind it. You can look it up if interested.  But when goats are in the barnyard, loud burps can be heard coming from the barn.

Some of the cutest little animal videos are of little goats jumping on things and playing. Like all the other animals there is more to this animal that I first thought.  Who would have thought they prefer a smile? Or that they develop accents?

So what, I wondered does the Bible have to say about goats, and what lesson are we to learn? Well, in both the old and new testaments goats have a lot to do with sin and sacrifice, along with many other animals.

I grew up hearing the term scapegoat, especially in family matters. The same person is often the black sheep and the scapegoat of the family. We know that the scapegoat carries the trouble of the family. But did you know that that idea came from scripture?  In the annual high holy day of Atonement, when the sin of Israel is dealt with, the high priest would use a scapegoat.  The narrative is found in Leviticus 16.

But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the Lord to be used for making atonement by sending it into the wilderness as a scapegoat . . . When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall bring forward the live goat.  He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins—and put them on the goat’s head. He shall send the goat away into the wilderness in the care of someone appointed for the task. The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a remote place; and the man shall release it in the wilderness.”

You may not be as familiar with that passage, but I am guessing that you’ve heard a sermon or two from Matthew 25

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in; I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’. . .  “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Don’t hear either of these of as a statement that goats are doomed to eternal punishment in hell. I believe there will be goats in heaven along with all the other animals.

However, pay attention to how devastating sin is in our lives. It’s not something to be messed with, because in both scripture passages sin (not the goat – SIN) caused permanent separation from God and God’s family.

Pastor Larry uses a phrase that I’m sure you’ve heard him say before, “We need to keep short accounts with God.”  Meaning don’t let sin grow in our lives, don’t let it linger, don’t let it take root and cause bitterness, rebellion, hatred, discord to fester and ruin your life.  Pray for a tenderness to the Lord so that you will know when you have sinned against Him and quickly deal with it – confess and repent.

Learn the lesson concerning sin from the goats in scripture, so that your life may be full of joy and the presence of the Lord.

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