“And these are the children of Zibeon; both Ajah, and Anah: this was that Anah that found the mules in the wilderness,….” (Genesis 36:24, KJV)
Down through history, mules have had a bad rap in life mostly because of their long ears, big nose, loudmouth and stubbornness. Actually, mules are some of the most intelligent animals on the planet. Unlike their human counterpart, mules are very smart. They are thinkers. They instinctively size up a situation and take the most direct path. They are wary as they use their ears to listen and scope out what is going on around them. They are rarely deterred once a decision is made. They either plant their feet, refusing to move, or go in the direction they choose. They are strong and can carry a lot of weight. Their bray is like a funky sort of yodel. The markings around their eyes can make them look surprised and ridiculous. Their ears go up like a bunny rabbit. They are just a crazy looking cross between a horse and a donkey. The skin of mules is thick and highly resistant to heat and rain. To defend itself from predators, a mule kicks with its hind legs, and it can do so from all directions.
President Ronald Reagan officially proclaimed October 26th as the date of National Mule Day; the day a Spanish donkey arrived in America in 1785.
Mules can either be driven by beating them with a stick, or by dangling a carrot in front of them on the end of a long stick just out of their reach. They keep moving forward thinking they are going to reach and eat the carrot. Sometimes they do get hold of enough of that carrot to further whet their appetite for more. So, they keep moving forward. That old mule is unsatisfied and wanting more. So, they keep moving forward even if they are headed to a cliff.
The “mules” in the church are the same way. They’re people with a mule’s mentality. Their stubbornness overrides their common sense. Their big ears hear just enough information to want to spread it around, with their big mouth, to anyone and everyone who they can find to listen, even if it slanders or destroys some body’s reputation. But they don’t care because they want to hear and to tell some new thing. They don’t care if the information they heard is not the full story or if it’s even true. They spread it anyway even if they must add a little bit to what they heard. It gives them the feeling of superiority. It gives them the feeling of power. They think they know something no one else knows. They feel like it’s their civic duty to catch someone doing something they think is wrong or not to their petty specifications. Then, they’ll stand up in the congregation and pray a pious prayer or lay on the alter and speak in tongues (?) so everyone can hear. They want to show everyone how spiritual they are.
When I was a boy growing up on a small farm, my daddy had a pair of mules he used to plow with. There were many times my dad would try to get those mules to move or work and they would just stand there, firmly planted, not seeming to listen to anything he had to say. I’ve seen him take a tobacco stick or a board and beat those old mules until they decided to move. He’d beat them trying to get them to move until big whelps would rise on their posterior.
You usually didn’t want to get too close to a mule’s posterior either. If you did, that old mule would show you what the meaning of the saying “kick like a mule” really meant. An old mule, however, will kick anything and everything they can even if it meant hurting someone who was trying to help them.
Many times, dad would let the mules out to pasture. When it came time to put them back into the barn, or catch them to do some work, they would run from him and not let him near them. Dad would go into the house and get the old sixteen gauge with number six shot and cut down on them out in the field. He could then walk right up to them and catch them. Many times, those mules would run into the barn after their experience. Dad would rake the shot out of their anatomy, harness them up and go to work. I’ve seen the phrase “Stubborn as a mule” come to life many times down on the farm. I look back and I can feel sorry for those old mules knowing what I know now.
As stated before, a mule is mostly known for their stubbornness. A mule’s stubbornness is actually caused by confusion and cautiousness. However, because of the characteristics and looks of a mule, as you can see, they can be compared to the characteristics of many people in the church world today.
Now, let’s go back and look at something. Anah found mules in the wilderness. Spiritually speaking, there are still mules in the wilderness today! And, that is where they belong.
The wilderness, by the way, is a waste place. I don’t believe God’s true church is a waste place or a dry place or a desert. Through all the ridicule, all the talk and putting down, I still feel our Holiness churches are right. I’m for the Holiness brethren that take a stand and live for God. I’m for the Holiness sisters that live right, walk right and dress right and do right. I’m for the Holiness young people that will walk right and do right and separate themselves from the world and give their heart and life to Jesus. If we’ll do that, we’ll not have a waste place or a dry place; we’ll have a glorious place.
I believe the Bible says there will always be wolves invading the sheep; dressed like a sheep; trying to look like a sheep; acting like a sheep. But the wolf cannot dress good enough to pass himself off as a sheep. No matter how you dress a wolf, that wolf has some characteristics that a sheep does not have. If you look closely, you’ll find you can’t pass a wolf off as a sheep. So are the ways of a mule.
Anah found the mules in the wilderness and that’s where they’re supposed to be, not In God’s house, around God’s alters except when they’re trying to get straightened out, repent, and really get right with God.
The Bible tells us that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft. Witches are servants of Satin, not Almighty God. It looks like God would let a rebellious person into Heaven just as quickly as he would a witch. Also, stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. With that in mind, let me tell you how to spot a mule in the church among you.
When I drive down the road and look out in a field and spot Tennessee Walkers, or an Appaloosa, or palominos, and then amongst them see one with ears stuck up about four inches above the rest, something says to me, that’s a mule.
We can look around in the church and see them there. Those big ears are just listening for everybody else’s faults and failures. They want to be the first one to tell the newest thing that Bro. So, and So slipped and fell or done. They’re the first to grab the phone and gossip to everyone who’ll listen. But usually, the faults they have are worse than the faults they were talking about and spreading rumors about. Those old mules can knock someone down then kick them when they’re down and feel good about it.
Let me tell you this. I do not believe there is any place of the world or anyone in the world anywhere authorized to straighten out the Church’s problems.
The next way you can tell a mule is by its big mouth. You can hear him bray farther than you could hear a freight train whistle in the hills on a frosty morning. Remember Mars Hill in the book of Acts? All those people wanted to do is to hear and tell some new thing. I call them the Mars Hill Bunch. There are a few in our churches that probably could have lived there and done right well. I’ve known of some preachers that could have pastored the Mars Hill bunch because they would fit right in.
Number three. A mule’s face doesn’t even look like a horse’s face. Those old mules have a Big sad, long face. You would think they just came from a funeral every time they came to church. They never have anything good to say about anything. Aw, but they’re so “humble”, you know. But you never hear them brag on the preacher or his sermon. Nothing ever excites them. When the preacher starts preaching Bible Holiness, they usually look at some other person and say, “Boy that preacher really stepped on your toes, didn’t he?” Never looking at themselves in a spiritual mirror. Long faces. Always putting things down that the church is doing. Not satisfied with anything. Forever finding fault with almost everything. A continuous negative attitude.
Number four. Mules have big noses. They can sniff out gossip then blow it back out on anyone they can just to see how much poison they can spread.
Psalms 32:9 has something very interesting to say about mules. It says, “Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.”
The Navy branch of the service called the “Seabees” had a unique slogan during World War II, “If it’s difficult, it will take a day or two. If it’s impossible, it will take a little longer.” We can pray those old mules out of the church, or, pray until they turn into a palomino or a Tennessee Walker or anything other than a mule. We don’t need mules in the church. Mules belong in the wilderness not the house of God. It may seem impossible or take a little longer, but the church can successfully deal with those ole mules; those gossipers, and complainers, constant troublemakers and their negativism. And, if they won’t change, pray them back into the wilderness where they belong.
You know, we can enjoy our salvation. We should not come to church just to put on a show or be above everybody else. We don’t need clicks in the congregation, superior attitudes or performers in our pulpits. But one thing about it, we should enjoy our salvation regardless of how many mules there are in the wilderness, or regardless of how many mules invade the good land of the glorious church.
God has instituted the church to be a glorious place; a place where we can come to worship and fellowship with one another in peace and harmony. The church should be a place where we can escape the worries and miseries of the world. The local church assembly should be a place where we can come together, sing songs of Zion, be able to pray the prayer of faith with other likeminded Brothers and Sisters, hear the word of God taught and preached under the anointing of the Holy Ghost; and have joy.
There will be a judgement day after a while. That old mule, along with that wolf I was talking about earlier, will never see the gates of Heaven unless they’re converted and changed by the blood of Jesus Christ and God’s Holy Ghost. The Scriptures says “ye must be born again” to see the kingdom of God. Except you repent, ye shall all likewise perish. God must get hold of that old mule and change that old long face, those long ears, and big mouth.
Are you a mule wondering around in the wilderness? Are you following a carrot on a long stick dangling in front of you? Are you a gossiper and a tale bearer or are you a prayer warrior? Are you someone who, although you may not agree with everything, will pray about a situation and have faith that God will work it out?
Jesus said, in Matthew 7:28, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heaven laden, and I will give you rest.”
If you’re a mule in the congregation, call on God, in true repentance, and ask Him to help you make the right choice to change before it’s too late. Hitch yourself to the alter and pray through.
Send those old mules back into the wilderness where they belong.
Bro. Don Woolett 03/2020 (Adapted from a message by Bro. Roger O’Quin)