294 Separating the sheep from the goats”
“Separating the sheep from the goats” Have you ever heard the saying? Do you know that this phrase is derived from God’s Holy Word, the Bible? We read it in today’s Gospel. (Matt 25) Jesus spoke of dividing the sheep from the goats in His parable… as he described the “end of this age!”
He stated that a day would come when He would sit on His throne and… gather all the nations before Him. And on that day He would then… separate the nations just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. This segment of the Gospel portrays the final portion of Christ’s reply to a few of His disciples when they approached Him with certain questions while He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, in an Olive Orchard. It is known as “The Olivet Discourse”.
It is important to take note of the “location” where the Lord was telling His disciples this parable… In the New Testament it is mentioned as the favourite place of our Lord as He withdrew from Jerusalem. The Mount of Olives was the start of His triumphal entry (Matthew 21:1); scene of His weeping over Jerusalem (Luke 19:37-41); His “end-time” instruction (Matthew 24 – 25); His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:30); His ascension (Acts 1:9-12)… And this is also the Mount of His return (Acts 1:11; Zechariah 14:4).
Here on the Mount of Olives Jesus was bringing His final sermon of the gospel of Matthew to a close. As He brings it to a close, He takes a moment to remind the apostles of what He had told them. He reminds them that “a time of tribulation”
is coming. This would be a time when the world would see the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place. The same abomination of desolation that Daniel the prophet warned about.
Jesus reminds them that they are to flee to the mountains of Judea because this will be a persecution such as has never been nor shall ever be again. He is once again pointing them to the “end of the age” – when the Son of Man will come and sit on His throne.” He tells them what will happen in that day. This
is a very important passage that must be understood in
its proper context… Without the proper context, the true interpretation can be easily lost. So let’s read again at… Matthew 25: v31 & 32; “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats“.
With this passage, Jesus is referring to the job of a shepherd… When a shepherd would take the sheep out to pasture, the goats would often go with them! The job of the shepherd was to make sure that they remain separate. With this comparison, Jesus is speaking here of “a time of reward… a time of judgment.” When the Son of Man returns to earth and sits on His glorious throne, the nations must be judged according
to how they have treated His people, the Jews. For years we
have heard this Scripture being preached, without complete understanding to whom Jesus was actually referring to.
So who are the “Sheep” and who are the “Goats” that Jesus is going to separate?
One distinct difference between the goats and the sheep is that… goats wander off and like to do their own thing whereas the sheep even though they need more care, follow their shepherd. The “Sheep” follow Jesus and the “goats” do not! The “sheep” know that Israel has NOT been replaced and that God is watching over Israel! And, the “sheep” believe (metaphorically speaking) that Israel is still the “apple of God’s eye.” The Prophet tells us in Zechariah 2:8 that the Jews are the “Apple of His Eye,” …meaning; the most delicate and touchy spot on His body. And we don’t dare to poke Him in the apple… the most delicate part of the eye that feels the most pain! The “sheep” are aware that God has promised to… “Bless those who bless Israel, and to curse those who curse Israel” and that God’s covenant with the Jewish nation is eternal and ever lasting.
Now as we go back to Matthew 25, Jesus sits on His glorious throne with all the nations gathered before Him… And as they are gathered before Him, verse 33 says: “And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.” The right-hand side of a throne is the side of power. Verse 34 goes on to read; “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’”
The prophet Joel thunders a message for our time… “For behold, in those days and at that time, when I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will enter into judgment with them there on account of My people … Joel 3:2
It is on account of Israel that God Judges all nations.
The valley of Jehoshaphat… runs between the Mount of Olives and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem; – Sometimes called the Kidron valley. Jesus is going to sit here someday and judge the nations when He returns to earth at the end of the Great Tribulation. This is known as the valley where God will judge!
The name “Jehoshaphat”… has a literal meaning in Hebrew. It means God will judge. The word translated “judge” in Hebrew is shofat. The word also means to administer justice, pass sentence, punish, rule, or consider. Judgment is from the same root word: The first part of the word Jehoshaphat in Hebrew is Yahweh. (Jehovah) Thus the Bible makes it clear that God is a God of mercy, and a God of justice.
He is long suffering and desires for all men and nations to come to repentance. Remember, God did not destroy wicked Nineveh when they donned sackcloth and ashes and truly repented.
There is still time for nations to repent of their attitudes toward Israel. God, (the One who does what He says He will) in His justice judged these and other nations and cities throughout the Bible. There were many reasons why nations were judged. They were judged for their cruelty, immoral behaviour, and idolatry… And they were judged for how they treated Israel and the Jewish people.
We read in the book of Esther that God placed the judgment of death on a man called Haman because he tried to destroy the Jewish people. This is the judgment of God for leaders of wicked nations. He destroys them. God is a God of judgment as well as a God of love. Those who won’t accept His love must face His judgment. God loves Israel so much and upheld them to the extent that in one battle the sun stood still and the moon stayed, until his people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. (read it for yourself in Joshua 10:13 – 14)
So are we now nearing the time when God will judge the nations…? Certainly that is how it looks right now – and from many of the signs we see, judgment may be sooner rather than later. I must confess that I don’t fully understand how God reckons time! It is, however, very clear from this verse
(Joel 3:2) that God is unhappy about two issues: (1) Scattering His people, the Jewish people… And (2) for dividing His Land!
Neither Israel or any other nation has the right or power to decide the fate of God’s covenant land… and the world has already (although without knowing it) seen the enormous price resulting when one touches the “apple of His eye!” The world is about to collide with God Himself! God is serious about His land and His covenant…the Lord is using Israel as the anvil
and will literally destroy those nations that come against Jerusalem. And, yes, the Bible said it would come down to this, and that the nations will be drawn to Jerusalem as a moth to a light! The Lord’s fury is building against those who would defy His Word and His Commandments, where Israel is concerned and especially Jerusalem!
Stronger still the Lord says, “Let all those who hate Zion be put to shame and turned back. Let them be as the grass on the housetops, which withers before it grows up, with which the reaper does not fill his hand, nor he who binds the sheaves his arms.” Psalm 129: 5-7
God is using the rebirth of Israel to cut right through false and incorrect views of His Word. The promise of God in the Bible is crystal clear on page after page and many have tried through the centuries to change it, refit or alter His Covenant with Israel – but in the latter days God has made the truth clear for all to see. God is serious about His Word: God is moving to fulfil His Word yet millions can’t see it because of wrong doctrines about Israel and Jerusalem. The very sad part is that even some blood bought believers in Jesus Christ can actually go against the
work of God. This is very serious, to be on the wrong side of God defending His Word and becoming apathetic towards Israel. This can lead to Failure, failure to pray for and support Israel in this very time of crisis… and at the same time miss out on God’s blessing!
Some will be sheep nations destined for blessing … and some will be goat nations destined for judgment…!
The results will be seen… some will be for and some against!
Today the nations are on dangerous ground. There are judgments, which are prophesied in the Bible, that have not yet occurred. Some concern individual nations or cities like the prophecy in Isaiah 17 that speaks of Damascus, an ancient city that endures to the present day in Syria. “Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city, and it will be a ruinous heap”
Isaiah 17:1. This has not occurred to date, but it is a disaster waiting to happen!
Jesus will judge the nations that have either treated the Jews with… care and kindness or mistreated them… Remember what God said to Abraham in Genesis 12:3, “I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Much of the Christian Church does not recognize the fact that Jesus was of the tribe of Judah, He was of the house of David, and Jesus was a Jew, an Israelite. He came to His own and His own did not receive Him… but yet He did not reject His own!
During the approaching time of Great Tribulation, the like of which the world has never yet seen, there will be…
the dividing of the sheep and the goats according to whether they have honoured God’s Word and blessed the Jews.
We have seen the persecution of the Jews throughout history.
It happened during the Crusades, the Russian Pogroms, and Hitler’s Holocaust. During these times, there were Gentiles who risked their own lives and well-being to help the Jewish people. They fed them, hid them, protected them, clothed them, and went to see them in prison. Those righteous Gentiles serve as a picture for us of the sheep that will be placed on the right when Jesus Christ comes and sits on His glorious throne and divides the nations. The people who have treated the Jews right will receive the gift of eternal life and those that have not will go into eternal damnation and separation by way of the lake of fire.
Matthew 25:40 tells us that one day the Great King and Judge
of all the earth will say to people such as those kind hearted towards the Jews, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.”
Today there is no more venomous spirit than the spirit of anti-Semitism, which is really the spirit of the Antichrist. ( I will have more to say about anti-Semitism next Sunday) Many news talking-heads deny Israel the right to self-defence. We have a United Nations that would rather drink a poisonous potion than condemn a terrorist… yet they condemn Israel again and again. The bottom line is that the Arab Moslems want the world and they want Israel’s covenant land and want to destroy the Jews
in the process! I assure you that God isn’t happy about that!
History records that no nation or race has ever persecuted Israel or the Jews and escaped the wrath of God…! That Israel has deserved its own punishment is prophetically declared by the prophets… but it is God Himself that brings punishment to His earthly people, not others. The more our neighbouring nations of Britain and Ireland bless Israel the more God will bless us!
Some people wonder why we should bless Israel so much… or why we should go there as they say that the Jews will NOT believe in Jesus Christ as Messiah… so why are we even concerned about Israel’s welfare? Our response is always the same… we are all called to bless the Lord’s “brethren”… and should the Jews suddenly all become Christians today then… the Bible would NOT be true! Why? Although there are many Messianic Jews (believing in Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah) the Bible tells us that the salvation of Israel; nationally and spiritually will NOT come until “the Time of Jacob’s Trouble”
or the “Time of Tribulation” Jeremiah 30:7 and Zechariah 12:10
Paul too described the ” Pre – Tribulation” period as “Birth Pains.” First Thessalonians 5:3 says… “…For when they shall say, Peace and safety! Then sudden destruction comes on them, as travail upon a woman with child. And they shall not escape.” This event follows the Rapture and the removal of the church, in 4:13–18. And in 5:9 Paul re-emphasises the absence of the Church by saying…”For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The wrath spoken of here is God’s judgement on the unbelieving world and the discipline of Israel during the Tribulation.
Indeed, that day will come that Jesus prophesied about in Luke 13: 34- 35 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say,
‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”’
And as we look at Matthew 25:31 – 46 …we see that all believers no matter what their calling, have a responsibility to love and support the Jewish people, Jesus’ “brethren.” And we also see how serious this matter is: That anyone who ignores this responsibility is taking a great risk. For God will judge severely those who do not love the people whom God loves with a special love… the apple of His eye and the Jewel in His crown!
Many in the church have learned to tolerate the Jewish people, as they have learned to be “politically correct” and tolerate just about anything and anybody… but they will not lift a finger to help the Jewish people in their time of need. It may not be a sin of commission, but it is most certainly a sin of omission. Jesus said: “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.” And the judgment for the sin of omission is just as severe: “He will also say to those on the left hand, Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
Only through the Jews did wisdom come into our world.
“The law came by Moses but grace and truth by Messiah Jesus.” John 1.17. In effect, the Jews brought us God, up close and personal! All a Christian needs to do is to open the Bible and God can speak into his life something personal and up-to-date wrapped in a package of historical accuracy. Only through the Bible can one look backwards in time and forwards into the future, sometimes simultaneously. Christians need to know that they owe their very existence to the Jews including their salvation, their abundant life, and their eternal life. We must always remember to pray for the Jews and for Israel and to bless them spiritually and materially. Speaking of the future, the good works we do on behalf of the Jewish people will be remembered by the Lord… not even that cup of cold water will be forgotten!
NOW THIS FINAL WORD
Jesus was a Jew, He was proud to be a Jew, and His entire ministry was to save the lost sheep of Israel. It was only after Israel “nationally” rejected their time of visitation (Rejected Messiah) did God’s blessings go to those Gentiles who accepted the Messiah. Yet, Israel was not and cannot be forgotten by God! The Goats curse Israel and God’s chosen people the Jews – and seek to hurt them… and do not act like sheep. Former US President Richard Nixon once remarked that Israel could never give in to the Arab demands to establish a Palestinian sovereign state within Israel… for that would be tantamount to living with the tip of a sharp sword just an inch from her heart!
Israel was and is despised today… and even though they are continually turning away from God – nothing has ever altered the purpose of God for that nation. The despised element is always a noticeable element in the purpose of God. When the Saviour of the world came, He came of that despised nation; like Israel… He Himself was “despised and rejected by men,” …and there is that despised element, “things that are despised God has chosen.” If God has chosen them as “special” it would be extremely dangerous for you and I to consider them any less.
Will you stand with our Jewish Brethren as the Sheep of His Pasture? Or must you be separated with the Goats who have denied Him and His people. The Choice is Yours; and may God help you make the right choice.
God Bless You … Amen