What is an Ox Goad? Exploring Its Biblical Significance
The ox goad is not a very well-known implement in modern times, but it played an important role in ancient agricultural societies. It was a long stick with a pointed end used to guide and prod oxen as they pulled a plow or cart. In the Bible, the ox goad is mentioned several times, and its significance goes beyond its practical use in farming. Let's take a closer look at what the ox goad represents in the Bible.
The Practical Use of the Ox Goad
The ox goad was an essential tool for farmers in ancient times. The pointed end was used to prod the oxen to keep them moving in the right direction and to encourage them to pull harder. The other end of the stick was often shaped like a small hoe or a chisel, which was used to clean the plowshare or to dig small furrows for planting. The length of the ox goad varied, but it was usually long enough for the farmer to use it from a safe distance away from the oxen.
The Biblical Significance of the Ox Goad
In the Bible, the ox goad is mentioned several times, and it is usually associated with a person who is called by God to do a great work. The ox goad is a symbol of the power of God working through a weak and humble person to accomplish great things. Let's take a look at some of the examples:
In Judges 3:31, we read about Ehud, a left-handed man who was chosen by God to deliver Israel from the oppression of the Moabites. Ehud made a double-edged sword and strapped it to his right thigh, and he used an ox goad to conceal the sword as he approached the Moabite king, Eglon. When Ehud was alone with Eglon, he drew the sword from his thigh and killed him. This act of bravery and cunning was made possible by the power of God working through Ehud, symbolized by the ox goad.
In Judges 3:31, we also read about Shamgar, who killed six hundred Philistines with an ox goad. Like Ehud, Shamgar was an unlikely hero who was chosen by God to do great things. The fact that he used an ox goad to defeat his enemies shows that God's power can work through even the most ordinary object.
In 1 Samuel 11:6, we read about Saul, who was chosen by God to be the first king of Israel. When he heard that the Ammonites were about to attack the city of Jabesh Gilead, he sent messengers throughout Israel to gather an army. The men of Israel were afraid to fight, but Saul rallied them by cutting up an ox and sending the pieces to each tribe with a message: "This is what will be done to the oxen of anyone who does not follow Saul and Samuel." The power of God working through Saul is symbolized by the ox, and the ox goad is a reminder that God uses even the most humble tools to accomplish his purposes.
The Apostle Paul
In Acts 26:14, we read about the conversion of the Apostle Paul on the road to Damascus. Paul describes how he was struck to the ground by a bright light, and he heard a voice saying, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the ox goads." The ox goads in this passage represent the resistance that Paul was putting up against God's will. Paul was a highly educated and influential man, but he was resisting God's call to preach the gospel. The power of God working through the humble ox goads eventually led Paul to embrace his calling and become one of the greatest evangelists in history.
The Symbolism of the Ox Goad
The ox goad is a powerful symbol of God's power working through weak and humble people to accomplish great things. It reminds us that God can use even the most ordinary objects and people to achieve his purposes. The ox goad also represents the resistance that we sometimes put up against God's will. Just as an ox can kick against the goad, we can resist God's call on our lives. But if we submit to God's will, he can use us to accomplish great things, just as he did with Ehud, Shamgar, Saul, and Paul.
The ox goad is a simple tool that played an important role in ancient agricultural societies. But in the Bible, it represents so much more than a farming implement. It is a symbol of the power of God working through weak and humble people to accomplish great things. It reminds us that God can use even the most ordinary objects and people to achieve his purposes. And it challenges us to submit to God's will and allow him to use us to accomplish his purposes, just as he did with Ehud, Shamgar, Saul, and Paul.