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The three parables in Matt. 24:45 - 25:30 are illustrations of various people who will attend the sheep and goats judgment which occurs at the second advent of Jesus. This judgment is the fulfillment of the Day of Atonement.

Matt 25:31-46 "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32 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: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. 41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal."

The first thing to notice is this judgment occurs when the Son of man has come in glory and is seated on his throne of glory. The word ‘glory’ indicates that something visual is occurring, in this case, Jesus on his earthly throne of judgment.

All the nations are gathered before Jesus in one group, and he then proceeds to separate them, placing the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left. There are at least three gatherings of people at the second advent: the gathering and destruction of the tares (Matt. 24:40-41); the gathering of the elect to meet the king (Matt. 24:31); and gathering of the "undecided" to attend the sheep and goats judgment (Matt. 25:32).

There are actually four separate groups present. We already know there will be sheep and goats, but the angels (who are not addressed at all) are also present (Matt. 25:31), and there is a fourth group, who is also not addressed but are definitely discussed: these my brethren. The use of the word ‘these’ indicates they are present. If they weren’t present the word would not be used thus indicating Jesus was speaking about people who were busy elsewhere. But the word is used, meaning ‘these my brethren’ are very present, but they are not standing before the throne as part of the sheep group or the goat group. I like to think of them as standing behind the throne. Still waving their palm branches. They are the people born again during the tribulation.

Christians become Christians by receiving and applying the sacrifice made by Jesus on our behalf. We are saved by the shed blood of Jesus with no other added conditions or works. We are saved by grace through faith. We are to have good works as fruit of our salvation, but the works that we do as Christians will neither save nor damn us. Those works are the fruit, or outgrowth and evidence, of our salvation. At the resurrection/rapture the works of the believers up to that point will be judged by burning and the believer will be given a reward based on what remains. But the believer himself will remain saved even if all of his works are destroyed. (For more information click here.) This judgment of the works occurs when the Christian passes from mortal to immortal. The folks who are saved during the tribulation will not become immortal until the end of the millennium. It is at that time that their works will be judged. In the meantime, they do not face a life or death, heaven or hell judgment such as that which will be experienced by the sheep and the goats because the blood of Jesus is sufficient to ensure salvation.

So all the present day Christians who want to count themselves among the sheep might want to take a closer look at the scriptures regarding salvation and Christian judgment.

Jesus places the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left hand, and this is significant. Most people are right-handed, and because it receives more exercise, the right hand is generally stronger than the left. Judges 5:26 tells us that Jael held the hammer of death in her right hand. In II Sam. 20:9-10 Joab took hold of Amasa by the beard with his right hand, presumably the stronger hand, and Amasa paid with his life because he took no heed of the sword in Joab’s left hand, presumably the weaker hand. I Chron. 12:1-2 tells us that David’s men could use either hand. Jesus is referenced as the right hand of the Father in several passages, and is called ‘the saving strength of his right hand’ in Psa. 20:6. There are many other examples, including the fact that the mark of the beast will have the right hand as one of its two possible locations.

Since the right hand is the stronger hand, the right hand represents works. The people who stand before the throne at the sheep and goats judgment will be judged by their works, specifically their treatment of the group called ‘these my brethren’ during the tribulation. As we have seen earlier, it is Christians who do the will of the Father who are the children of God and the brethren of Jesus. The sheep and goats are going to be judged by whether or not they gave food, drink, clothing, shelter and comfort in sickness and in prison to the born again believers during the tribulation. The Lord Jesus identifies so totally with his people that, from his perspective, to do these things for his people is to do them for him.

The sheep are located on his right hand because their works are approved. They will live to enter the millennium. They still need to be born again to inherit eternal life, but there is no doubt that they will be (vs. 46). In Matt. 25:34 he tells the sheep, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Notice the sheep are blessed of the Father because they have ministered to the people of God.

To the goats Jesus says (Matt. 25:41), "Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." The goats are cursed, but we are not told the source of the curse. It does not appear to be of the Father, neither is it self-condemnation because they try to justify themselves. This curse is most likely from Satan himself. Notice they are sent to hell, a place prepared for the devil and his angels. Hell was not prepared for man, but billions of humans have gone there because they did not take God at his word, and in fact rejected the blessing he has always been willing to provide in favor of continuing in their spiritual blindness by believing the lies of the enemy. Primarily this one: "Ye shall be as gods." No, they won’t.

Some might wonder how a God of love could destroy people as we see in the prophecies. We need to understand that the human rebellion has been ongoing for the past six thousand years, and God is not going to tolerate its continuance forever. There is a cut off point. One of the reasons why God created humans with free will is because he intends to have a people, a family, who will serve him throughout eternity simply because they want to. They choose God. And God has made awesome plans for that family and has given them great promises.

The scriptures teach that man has a choice as to who he will serve. It is understood that he may choose to serve God on God’s terms, but if he chooses not to serve God on his terms, he will serve Satan by default. The prophecies reveal that as time goes on the evil inclinations of man’s heart continue to grow worse, and they reach the apex during the tribulation. God will allow this because he intends to destroy the wicked during the tribulation judgments and at the second advent. God is righteous and just: when his judgment falls the wicked will have demonstrated that they deserve exactly what they will receive. II Pet. 3:9 states that God is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." God is not going to destroy because he enjoys destruction, but because he gave man a choice as to salvation, clearly outlining the results of the choices man would make.

Olivet Discourse



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