USA - GOAT: A Word to Be Banished

Arno Froese

When was the last time you called someone a GOAT? Or declared an “inflection point,” or answered a yes-or-no question with “absolutely”? 

Probably too recently, say the faculty of Lake Superior State University, the Michigan college that releases an annual list of words that they say deserve to be “banished” from our vocabularies over “misuse, overuse and uselessness.” 

Out of over 1,500 nominations—from people across the U.S. and as far afield as New Zealand and Namibia—judges declared that this year’s top offender was “GOAT,” the acronym for “greatest of all time.”

Joining “GOAT” in banishment are nine other words and phrases that nominators and judges complained were used so often that they had become disconnected from their literal meanings—like “amazing,” which nominators fretted no longer meant “dazzling” or “awe-inspiring.” 

Hundreds of words and phrases have been “banished” by LSSU since 1976. Over the years, LSSU has received tens of thousands of nominations for its annual list. 

Joining them are common linguistic bugaboos—frequently misused words like “impact,” redundancies like “exact same” and “completely empty,” or overly verbose phrases like “at this point in time.” (“Why not say ‘now,’ or ‘today?’”, a 1976 nominator asked.), 1 January 2023

Arno's Commentary

Words, names, and various definitions continue to change when they no longer fit the issue. One of the words banished was “absolutely.” Why? Because in our modern world, humanity has not determined what is absolute.

As Christians, we know that the Bible proclaims the absolute truth of God. It’s final; it’s eternal. Moreover, the created universe is the result of the spoken word of God—it’s absolute.

In Scripture, the word “goat” is mentioned 35 times, the first time in Genesis 15:9: “And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” Here, the goat served as a sacrifice so God could reveal to Abraham that his descendants would be strangers in the land of Egypt and serve the Egyptians for 400 years (verse 13).

Later, in Leviticus we read of the scapegoat, which was not to be killed but led into the wilderness: “And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness” (16:21-22). This scapegoat was led by a “fit man” into the wilderness and left there. This doubtless is a prophetic picture of our Lord, of whom Isaiah 53 proclaims: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (v. 6).

In the Old Testament, the keeping of the law with its innumerable sacrifices, obtained only a covering for the sins of the people: “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). But the sacrifice of the Son of God Himself, Jesus Christ, takes away sin: “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (v. 14).

Now, no longer is a scapegoat necessary, but we have access directly, anytime, anywhere on planet earth to receive forgiveness: “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus” (v. 19).

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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