The Judas Goat

Sheep are social creatures, they like to be together and fear separation. The Rodeo’s lamb wrangling event, where sheep are pushed into an arena and young boys and girls drag them into a pre-defined circle, is an example of their herding nature. They are easy targets because they remain in a tight, compressed group until that first melee of kids scatters them to the “four corners” of the round arena. This natural protective instinct can become dangerous; blindly following a crowd can be a bad thing (Exodus 23:2). Goats are much more independent. Take, for instance, the Judas Goat.

Back in the old days, slaughterhouses used to employ a goat to lead sheep down the alleys to become lamb-chops. The goat’s effectiveness was based upon its assimilation into the sheep herd and its natural independence. Open the pen gate and the goat was the first to poke his head out to discover the “freedom” of the alley. No sooner was the Judas Goat in the alley than the sheep were close behind. Just as the gate was closed behind them in the slaughter chute, the goat rebelled against his confinement and bounded over the fence and into another pen of sheep. Begin round two.

The church is a collective of social creatures. It is no accident that Jesus frequently compares people to sheep (Matthew 9:36; 10:6, 16; 15:24; et al.). This connection, however, proposes to emphasize their social nature, not their “fleecability.” Jesus made it clear: “if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch” (Matthew 15:14); God’s Son never intended that we gullibly swallow or accept any doctrine or any person who attempts to assimilate into the body of Christ. There may be similarities between goats and sheep but any farm boy knows the difference.

Preachers, teachers, elders, deacons or members who come “unto you, and bring not this doctrine (the truth of the Gospel, JDS), receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (2 John 10-11, KJV). This implies discernment and mandates decision.

The invasion of the Judas Goat is at epidemic levels in the church today. They preach, teach, lead and live a perverted “freedom” from the “suppression” of God’s Word and liberation from law – any law. “Sheeple” who apathetically follow the crowd will fall with the crowd (Matthew 7:13-14). They are really choosing not to think, not to face conflict and not to challenge Judas Goats; they are being led to an eternal slaughter. Be advised: Jesus does not suffer from any such malady of will. He frankly sets the Judgment before His disciples in no uncertain terms. “And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats” (Matthew 25:32, KJV).

The safe course is to imitate the Great Shepherd (1 Corinthians 11:1). We must make these less-than-pleasant choices to identify (mark) and avoid them (Romans 16:17) for our soul’s safety and the church’s purity. If we do not find the courage to separate ourselves from the Judas Goats, one day Jesus will.

Jeff Sweeten