Don't Let Anyone Get Your Goat

Written by Jesse Spurlock and published in The Oklahoma Baptist January 2016

S. S. Kresge, the brilliant founder of stores, never received a college education, but worked hard, put his faith in God, ultimately became a multimillionaire and gave millions away for good causes.  When asked the secret to his success, he stated, "I worked hard, I put my trust in God, and I never let anything get my goat."

His reply was interesting to me because of his giving God credit, but his term, "never let anything get my goat", also was intriguing to me.  I'v heard that phrase much of my life, but do you know how that phrase started?

Years ago when people owned racing horses, they wanted their horse to win the race.  They knew that the only way the horse could win was for it to be very well rested the night before.  One way to get the horse to rest and be completely relaxed was to put a goat beside it.  the goat would lie down so relaxed and comfortable that the horse would do likewise.  Other competitors would run in and steal the goat.  The episode would get the horse so agitated that it couldn't win the race the next day.  There's not a lot of nice things said about a goat, so it's refreshing to know that the above store puts them in a favorable light.

My experience with goats was with a short stint with the Oklahoma City Stock Yard.  One duty was to clean the pens.  The only pens that possibly stunk worse than pigs were the goat pens.  An older man and I were cleaning the goat pen.  Gasping for air, he called them "Stinking Old Judas Goats".  When I asked, he explained that a Judas goat is a trained goat used in general animal herding.  The Judas goat is trained to help with sheep.  The goat would lead the unsuspecting sheep to the slaughter house, while it's own life would be spared.  I really doubt the goat actually knowingly betrayed the sheep like Judas did with Jesus, but the title "Judas" seems appropriate.

Of course, sometimes people call an old man an "Old Goat".  The background of that is also interesting.  Years ago goats were raised to help clear the farm hillsides and brush areas.  The goats would chew through fences and get themselves tangled in an awful mess.  When help came they were stubborn and fought against it making matters worse.  So people started calling other people "old goats" when they were too unruly to stay out of trouble and to stubborn to accept help when it came, and instead tried to fix the problem themselves and making things worse.

In sight of the negative view of a goat, God used two goats to picture Jesus Christ as our scapegoat in our salvation.  The description of the scapegoat is found in Leviticus 16.  It required two goats.  One would be sacrificed and the other, called the scapegoat, would be led into the wilderness to be released never to return.  This offering pictures what Christ was going to do with on sacrifice in Salvation.  Both goats represent Christ.  He was sacrificed for our sins and he also carried our sings away never to be remembered anymore.  Jesus truly is our scapegoat when it comes to our sins.  He paid our sin debt by his death, but he forever took away the penalty of our sins by His resurrection.

Posted on January 18, 2016 .