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THE SHEEP AND
-AN APOCALYPTIC SIMILE-
NIV MATTHEW 31-46 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' "They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
This part of scripture deals with eternal life of the righteous and eternal life of the unrighteous.
The Second Coming of Jesus is a time of Judgement on mankind living at that appointed time. Jesus is the Shepherd King. As a shepherd gathers his sheep and goats, so too, does the Great Shepherd.
Christ judges the world in righteousness as A Shepherd. His sheep who are judged righteous, are His spiritual brethren, belonging to His fold, whether Jew or Gentile. Jesus is The Shepherd and has used goats and sheep to show the difference between believers and non-believers. Sheep and goats are often reared together by a shepherd, but there comes a time when they have to be separated at the harvest shearing time.
The sheep and goats are two classes of people among the Nations. In this present age all sheep and goats are together, both saints and sinners, the righteous in Christ and the unrighteous.
A nation is a group of individual people.
Sheep are the people who belong to God, true believers of Christ, both Jews and Gentiles. The sheep are the righteous, those who are righteous are saved by grace through faith in Christ and not of works, they are saved to do good works.
Goats are unbelievers, hypocrites, sinners among every nation. The goats are the unsaved and will experience eternal punishment.
Sheep are a symbol of humbleness and obedient submissiveness to the leading of the Shepherd and His guiding. Goats are a symbol of riotous, unconsciously selfishness, failing to see the needs of others.
Jesus is the Lamb of God offered for the redemption of sin and the Goat offered for atonement of sins, in the Law given to Moses. The separation of the sheep and the goats illustrates a truth. Christ knows who belongs to Him. God's sheepfold can be detected in how they treat the least of His brethren.
It is to be noted that the sheep and the goats were not aware of their works or fruit and therefore cannot in anyway boast of their deeds, for only Christ can see all.
Jesus' brethren, whether Jew of Gentile, are those who obey His word and do the will of God. The brethren of Jesus are Christians in the body of Christ, heirs in the Kingdom of God. The deeds Jesus refers to are to His brethren. What believers do for others they do for Him. Jesus said to His mother and to His family, whoever shall do the will of The Father is His brethren, those born of the spirit, members of the Body of Christ. Christians are especially to help and support fellow Christians first.
Deeds that are done against the brethren are done against the Master Himself. Whatever is done whether good or evil to members of the Body of Christ is done as unto Christ. Those who help Christians do so as to Christ. Those who persecute Christians, persecute Christ.
Reaching out to Jesus' brethren whether they be Jew or Gentile does not enable a person to attain Salvation, the gift of grace from God, through faith in Jesus Christ His Son, who gave Himself for the sins of mankind. Reaching out to others is a result of Salvation and God's goodness and mercy, by responding to His love and obeying His commandments.
For those who reject Christ and oppose His Church there is judgement and punishment.
Some apply these deeds are done to the Jewish Nation, the Gentile Nations or needy people in general, but Christ here speaks of deeds done to His brethren, those who have come forth from Him.
The Body of Christ is also called a nation, a new nation through Christ, citizens and heirs who belong to the Kingdom of God, being recipients of God's mercy. NIV 1Peter 2:9,10 "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy".
The return of the Lord will usher in judgement. Judgement of moral character revealed by charitable deeds are to be commended but not a condition for salvation, for it is not of works.
Jesus is not teaching that good works form the basis of salvation, although works of a Christian will be judged. Good works come from a grateful heart. Good deeds are the fruit of the righteous and not the basis for their salvation.
The right hand throughout God's Word has always symbolised blessing while the left hand has always symbolised as being cursed. The sheep and goats are divided. On the right to inherit the Kingdom, on the left to everlasting fire. He will separate as the weeds and wheat are separated at the harvest. Godly on the right, wicked on the left.
This judgement is not the Bema Seat of Christ which is the Christian Judgement nor The White Throne Judgement.
At this judgement, it is directed to those who are living at the time Jesus returns to the earth. There is no resurrection of the dead at this period. At the White Throne Judgement, the wicked dead will be raised, and books shall be opened, there are no books to be opened at this judgement. There are three Judgements of individuals. The separation of the sheep and the goats is the second Judgement.
Everlasting torment is the same eternal life, both continue on as long as the other. The Book of Revelation records that one thousand year period between sheep and goats. At the White Throne Judgement which is at the end of Christ's Millennium Reign is when the dead goats hear their doom pronounced. The Word of God in the Book of Revelation separates the resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous by one thousand years. If this is so those who are alive are judged at Christ's Second Coming and the wicked dead of the nations at the Second Resurrection at The White Throne Judgement.
Although God judges Nations, the final judgement is of an individual's accountability, that make up each nation. God does deal with Nations throughout the Old Testament, as well as on an individual basis, but are not made righteous through good works, only true faith produces true works.
Any need of help and love done to members of The Body of Christ, sheep caring for lambs in Christ's fold is done as unto Christ, receive their reward in that Day when Christ comes in His Glory, at the end of the Tribulation.
When Jesus speaks of unbelief in His teachings it is a warning against unbelief to try and save people from an agonising eternal separation.
The underlying principle is at Jesus' Second Coming to gather out of His Kingdom all things that cause stumbling and iniquity, shall be removed.
The inner nature and character of all are laid open and bare before the Perfect Judge.
Eternal destinies are at stake. Everlasting torment was prepared for the devil and his angels. God desires all that would be blessed, Hell was not intended for people. The people have willingly chosen to refuse the Life offered.
This judgement reminds all, that what affects Christ's people, affects Him.
There are two symbols, two groups of people and two destinies.
Although this Scripture is used as a parable, it is not really the same as a parable but a description of apocalyptic language.
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