We read this odd statement by Yeshua to Paul, “Sha’ul, Sha’ul, why do you persecute me? You make it hard for yourself by kicking against the goads.”
Most people have no problem believing that Yeshua is our Shepherd. Most would also agree that He is our Congregational Leader, “The Head of the Body”. Some even aver to the fact that He is our Rabbi. But few see the linguistic link of ‘goads’ to a passage that was clearly written about Yeshua, nearly 1,000 years before He appeared to us.
Yeshua confronted “Rabbi Paul” on the road to Damascus, and asked Him that very simple question. As a leading Rabbi of his day, set out to arrest Messianic Jews, to keep them out of the Synagogues of the Jews, Sha’ul would have been intimately familiar with the passage that refers to ‘goads’, and uses the tool that prods oxen to stay straight in the plowing to represent The Torah, the very “Mitzvot”, or commandments of God. Yeshua was telling a Rabbi that he was BREAKING TORAH, by endeavoring to arrest the Talmidim of the Messiah, Rabbi Yeshua. Yeshua was alluding to that passage, the passage below, when He asked Rabbi Paul that one question. When Sha’ul asked Him, “Who are you, My Adon [Master/Lord]?” Yeshua answered simply, “I am Yeshua HaNatzri, whom you persecute; 6arise, and go into the city, and there you will be told what you must do.” A Natzri is indeed someone from Nazareth, but, it can also mean ‘guardian’, and could allude to a Shepherd. Is it possible Sha’ul’s Rabbinic mind went to “Ecclesiastes”, called in Hebrew “Kohelet”, which means “Leader of the Congregation”? I think it is:
10Kohelet sought to find out words of delight, and that which was written uprightly, even words of truth. 11The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails well fastened are those that are composed in collections; they are given from One Shepherd. 12And furthermore, my son, be admonished: of the making of many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. 13The end of the matter, all having been heard: fear Elohim, and keep His Mitzvot; for this is the whole man. 14For Elohim shall bring every work into the judgment concerning every hidden thing, whether it is good, or whether it is evil. ~Kohelet 12
If so, the implication is that Yeshua is that ONE SHEPHERD, who GAVE The Torah to Moshe! Sha’ul was not keeping The Torah, though he thought he was a master of it. He understood the depths of Judaic thought, and was headed toward greatness in the Rabbinic community:
13You have heard of the manner of my life in time past in the religion of the Y’hudim [Jews], how beyond measure I persecuted the assembly of Elohim and tried to destroy it; 14and how that I was far more advanced in the religion of the Y’hudim than many of my age among the people of my race; for above all, I was especially zealous for the doctrines of my forefathers. ~Galatim 1
Sha’ul had not been seeking the truth of God, but had been learning the doctrines of men. Yeshua confronted the P’rushim [Pharisees] about their doctrines, telling them that they did violence to the commandments of God by teaching their doctrines in the place of The Torah. Gamli’el, Sha’ul’s teacher, is still venerated today among Jews, being cited in their “Mishnah”, for establishing that we ‘see’ the new moon’s crescent in order to set and declare a New Year and new months. Gamli’el defended the Messianic Community before “Paul” was trying to destroy it!
34Then one of the P’rushim whose name was Gamli’el, a teacher of the Torah and honored by all the people, rose up and ordered them to take the Shlikhim outside for a little while; 35then he said to them, “Men of Yisra’el, take heed to yourselves, and find out what is the best for you to do about these men. 36For before these days, Theudas rose up, boasting himself to be a great man; and about four hundred men followed him; but he was slain; and those who followed him were scattered and nothing came of them; 37after him rose up Yehudah the Gelili, in the days when people were registering for the head tax, and he misled many people into following him. He died; and all of those who followed him were dispersed. 38So now I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this thought and this work is of men, it will fail and pass away. 39But if it is of Elohim, you cannot suppress it, lest perchance you find yourself standing in opposition to Elohim.”
Gamli’el is today called “Gamli’el The Elder,” and “Rabban Gamli’el”. He was Sha’ul’s Rabbi, according to his own account:
3“I am a Y’hudi [Jew], born in Tarsus of Cilicia, yet I was brought up in this city at the feet of Gamli’el, and trained perfectly according to the instruction of our fathers, and was zealous toward Elohim just as you are also.
Paul’s zealousness toward God was not based on truth, but on the fallacy that it was one’s own righteousness that saves him. He learned through seeing Yeshua visibly that he was wrong. And he went into the wilderness for three years to unlearn all the lies of his fathers, to learn the truth of SCRIPTURE.
Peter compared Sha’ul’s writings to the Scriptures, and classified them in the same category, of being divinely inspired:
“…our beloved brother Pavlos also, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16as also in all his letters he speaks concerning these matters, in which there are certain things so hard to be understood that those who are ignorant and unstable twist their meaning, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction.” ~ Kefa Bet 3
So, Paul was intimately familiar with the Scriptures, before he met Yeshua. When he met Him, he realized how much he did not know, and had to be re-taught, by Messiah Himself:
“…when it pleased Elohim, who had chosen me from my birth and called me by His compassion 16to reveal His Son to me, that I might declare Him among the Goyim, I did not immediately disclose it to any human being, 17neither did I go up to Yerushalayim to them who had been Shlikhim [Apostles] before me; but instead I went to Arabia and returned again to Damesek. 18Then after three years I went up to Yerushalayim to see Kefa, and stayed with him fifteen days.” ~ Galatim 1
The commandments guide us to Messiah. Romans 10:4 does not say, ‘the end of the law’, but “Messiah is the goal/target at which The Torah aims.” He is the Shepherd of “Kohelet”, the book of Ecclesiastes. Those words were written by Shlomo, whom most know as King Solomon. But Shlomo was writing prophetically, also pointing the way to Messiah. So Yeshua’s words provoked Paul, and convicted him of not understanding Torah, the ‘goads’ of our lives. The Word of God does set boundaries on our behavior, it’s just that most refuse to see that. Men come along and either want to set greater boundaries, or to tear down all boundaries. But, Kohelet, the Shepherd of the Congregation, goads us with His staff to stay on a straight and narrow path.