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 Works versus Faith (Part 19) – The Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25)

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PostSubject: Works versus Faith (Part 19) – The Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25)   Tue Jan 17, 2017 12:26 am

Works versus Faith (Part 19) – The Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25)
Also: Matthew 7:21-23

Today we are going to comprehensively survey the passage of the Sheep and the Goats as detailed in Matthew 25:31-46.  This passage is often misinterpreted.  These misinterpretations lead to incorrect conclusions.  Many incorrectly conclude from this passage that salvation is by works and that at the Last Judgement we will all be judged for our works and by them be either thrown into Hell, or allowed into Heaven.  To clear up all confusion that often comes from reading this passage, we must answer a few questions: 1. When does this Judgement take place?  2. Is this the so-called “Last Judgement”?  3. If this is not the Last Judgement, then what judgement is this?  4. Who are the people here who are being judged?

We get the answers to most of these questions in the first 3 verses of this passage.  I’ll quote verses 31-33 here:

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.  

First of all, it should be pointed out that this is not the Rapture.  1 Thessalonians 4:14 describes the Rapture, and it says, “We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep with Him.”  This verse says that when the Rapture occurs that Jesus, who is going to come here on the clouds, will be accompanied by the souls of all the saved people (all who died in Him).  That passage goes on to say that the bodies of their souls will rise from the grave and meet their souls in the air (and become new resurrected, perfected bodies), and then the rest who are alive at that time and who are saved in Christ will then float up to the clouds to join Jesus and the Saints in the sky and then they will then immediately receive their new resurrected bodies.  But our passage in Matthew does not follow the same cast.  Matthew says that when Jesus comes, He will be with all of the angels.  The Saints are not mentioned.  The reason the Saints are not mentioned in Matthew is because the Saints are not there.  The reason angels are not mentioned in 1 Thessalonians is because angels are not there.  These are 2 different events.  

There is one verse that easily serves as proof to what we are about to learn.  That verse is Matthew 25:32, which says, “All the nations will be gathered before him, and He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep form the goats.”   This says that at this particular judgement, all nations will be gathered before Jesus.  This is one judgement, which includes judging both the saved (the sheep) and the goats (the unsaved) at the same time.  Not only are the saved and unsaved together here, but it goes on to say that they will be separated for their perspective sentencing because they start off as mixed together.  And later on in this Matthew passage, we see that the judgement for both occurs at the same time.  To the sheep, Jesus gives their judgement, and then He immediately turns to the goats to give them their judgment, using the same criteria that He used for the sheep’s judgement.  So where else do we see this in the bible?  Where do we see any judgement in the bible, other than here, that includes both the sheep and the goats mixed together and needing to be separated for their judgement, and then they being judged at the same time?  Many incorrectly relate the judgement of Matthew 25 to the one in Revelation 20, which is the final judgment.  We already looked at Revelation 20 and found that at the final judgement, only the unsaved, that is, the dead outside of Jesus will be present at that judgement.  Revelation 20 does not include both unsaved and the saved people.  Saved people are not even on the scene.  So Revelation 20 and Matthew 25 are two different judgments!

Just after the Rapture, while the Tribulation is occurring on Earth for 7 years, during that time the Christians and all saved people from the Old Testament times will receive their judgement.  The dead outside of Christ have a different Judgement date scheduled.  They will be judged at the end of the Tribulation period, and Revelation 20 describes that event.  So I ask again: Where in the bible is there any judgement that consists of Christians and the unsaved being judged together?  The answer is Revelation 14:14-20.  This passage in Revelation 14 is the same event as the one described in Matthew 25 with the sheep and the goats.  It is the same event described in a different way.  In Revelation 14, we see that there are Christians and unsaved people mixed together, and we see angels harvesting, or separating the two from each other and we see both sides getting sentenced at the same time.  So to get a better understanding of Matthew 25, let’s first study it’s parallel passage in Revelation 14:14-20.  We should review at this point.  When we get to Revelation 14 on a timeline or a time table, the Rapture has already occurred.  All who were saved during the Day of Grace are no longer on Earth.  We are well into the Tribulation period when we get to Revelation 14.  There are a handful of people during this time who got converted to Christianity during this period who are on Earth.  This includes, namely, the 144,000 Jewish Christians, and all who they (and God’s 2 Witnesses) converted while they were here.  At the start of Revelation 14, the 144,000 Jewish Christians are still on Earth.  

This passage might be “headed” in your bible as “The Harvest of the Earth”.  Revelation 14:14 reads, “I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one “like a Son of Man” with a crown of gold on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand.”  Recall that the passage in Matthew began as follows: “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.”  We see in Revelation 14, that Jesus is accompanied by His angels just like in Matthew.  In Matthew, Jesus uses the analogy of sheep being separated from goats.  John, in Revelation uses the analogy of a farmer harvesting out the wheat from the chaff.  And then taking grapes for the winepress.

Verse 15 says, “Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, ‘Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the Earth is ripe.’”  Keep in mind that this angel comes out of the temple; we will revisit this point soon.  The angel gives the order to Jesus to reap the entire Earth.  Verse 16: “So He who was seated on the cloud swung His sickle over the Earth, and the Earth was harvested.”  At the period that ends the sentence of verse 16, there are now no more Christians or saved people on the Earth.  Revelation continues with more chapters of Tribulation on the people of the Earth, but there are no more Christians there.  The worst of the worst judgements are about to befall the rest of the people on the Earth, and what God does is He raptures up all of the saved people so that they will not have to experience His Great Wrath that is yet to come.  So there is not one Rapture of Christians; there are actually two.  There is the Rapture that Christians today are looking forward to, and there is the Rapture that takes place during the middle of the Tribulation period where Jesus raptures up those who become saved during the Tribulation.  We can call the first rapture, “The Rapture”; and the second rapture, “The Harvest”.  

There are now no more Christians on Earth after verse 16.  So let’s see what happens in the rest of the chapter.  Verse 17 says, “Another angel came out of the temple in Heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle.”  Okay, wait a second.  A sharp sickle is used to separate things.  We already read that the saved unsaved were separated, so why are we still using a sickle to separate more things?  What is there left to be separated?  There are only unsaved people on the Earth.  Watch, there is still one more thing to be separated.  Verse 18 says, “Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, ‘Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the Earth’s vine, because its grapes are ripe.’”  Recall that the one angel came out of the temple, and we see that this other angel comes from the altar.  The group of people who are being “separated” here are the religious folks from the atheists/agnostics.  During the Tribulation period, the Roman Catholic Church will be the dominant religion.  Jesus first Raptures out the true Christians from the world, including some found within the Roman Catholic Church, then He turns around and makes one more sickling harvest: this time, He takes all of the unsaved religious folks who make up the Catholic Church.  But this time He is not rapturing them.  We read their plight in the following verses:

Verse 19: “The angel swung His sickle on the Earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great winepress of God’s wrath.  They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and the blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia.”  From the period that concludes verse 20, there are now no more religious folks on the Earth.  The only people on Earth that are left for chapters 15-19 are atheists, agnostics, Muslims, Buddhists, evolutionists, Mormons, JW’s, etc., but those who make up the so-called Christian Church (precisely, the Roman Catholic Church), is no longer on the Earth.  There is now no longer any Pharisees or Sadducees.  There is no longer any one who is sanctimonious, pious looking so-called followers of Jesus who live double lives.  God reserves the non-religious for His greatest wrath.  He actually kind of did the religious unsaved Catholic Church people a favor by taking them out before His Great Wrath.  This is just the sentence hearing; the judgement doesn’t occur until Revelation 20:11-15.  The religious unsaved church folk coming from this period will be sentenced before all other unsaved people and they will hear of their eternal plight before all other unsaved, but their sentence will be later carried out in Revelation 20 where they will then be thrown into the Lake of Fire.  

As a side note: Jesus here is called an “angel”.  That is because we are beyond the Day of Grace.  In the Old Testament, Jesus was called “The Angel of the LORD”.  Since we are beyond the Day of Grace, all things revert back to the dispensation of the Old Testament times and its rules; and even the biblical language reverts back.  

It is important to understand that the judgement in Matthew 25 is not the judgement of the Church at all.  This judgement concerns only those during the Tribulation Period, which is beyond the Day of Grace (our time period).  Precisely, Matthew 25 and Revelation 14 is the judgement of the religious order.  The religious order during the Tribulation period will be dominated by the Roman Catholic church.  They will be the only standing church who still claims to hold to the name of Jesus as their source of worship.  Jesus will divide, or separate the truly saved from the religious folks who are not saved.  We know today that the Catholic Church is a church of works and not of faith.  The bible declares that a person is saved by faith alone, not by works, so that no one will boast.  Revelation 14, which is the same event as Matthew 25, is when Jesus is going to do away with false religion: that is, false religion that asserts His Name.  Now that we have an appropriate background for Matthew 25, let’s look at it.  

Just one more aside before we start:  That was a lot of blood mentioned in Revelation 14.  It said 1,600 stadia.  That is 184 miles.  And it says that not only did the blood stretch for 184 miles, but that the blood came as high as a horse’s bridle.  Let’s be generous and say that a horse’s bridle is 4 feet high.  I’m sure it is higher, but let’s use a short horse.  So we have blood that goes for 184 miles that is 4 foot high.  The width is not stated, so let’s be generous with that too, and say 3 foot wide.  That is a LOT of people.  An adult has only 5 liters of blood.  That is just over 2 bottles of 2 liter Cokes.  I’m not going to go further because my math days are behind me, but the reader can calculate for his or herself that that is a LOT of people.  A winepress is intended to squeeze all of the liquid from the grapes.  God will put these people in a winepress and squeeze them dry of blood.  

Well, before we look at Matthew 25, I should note that there are other parallel passages in the bible that explain this same event.  Joel 3:12-13 reads as follows:

“Let the nations be roused; let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side.  Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe.  Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow—so great is their wickedness!”

Also, Matthew 13:24-30 is this same event, and it reads as follows:

“Jesus told them another parable: ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.  But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.  When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.  The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field?  Where then did the weeds come from?’  ‘An enemy [refers to Satan] did this,’ he replied.  ‘The servants [refers to angels here] asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’  ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them.  Let both grow together until the harvest.  At that time I will tell the harvesters [that is, the angels]: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”

In Matthew 13:37-43, Jesus explains the Parable of the Weeds.  It reads as follows:

“He [Jesus] answered, ‘The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man.  The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the Kingdom.  The weeds are the sons of the Evil One [Anti-Christ], and the enemy who sows them is the devil [Satan].  The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age.  The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will weed out of His Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.”  Note here, that it says that the Kingdom will be weeded out of the phony believers.  That is, the religious dominating world order, the Roman Catholic Church. The Kingdom will be harvested from the false church.  The passage concludes, “They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.  He who has ears, let him hear.”  

Jesus gives us one more parable regarding this same event in Matthew 13:47-50.  It reads, “Once again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish.  When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore.  Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away.  This is how it will be at the end of the age.  The angels will come and separate the wicked form the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  The fiery furnace here, is a reference to Hell.

Romans 2:5-16 also seems to be describing this same event.  I will cover that in detail in a future post; likely, my next post.  And Luke 17:24-37 also seems to be describing this same event, but I won’t cover that passage.  Matthew 7:21-23 fits perfectly into this same event.  We will revisit that passage for the final time soon.  And Matthew 24:30-35 is this same event, but I won’t cover that either, except for one confusing verse, I’ll quickly cover.  Matthew 24:34 says, “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.”  What generation?  Not the generation Jesus is speaking to, but rather, the generation He is referring to.  The verse makes sense.  The period He is referring to is only a 7 year period, so that generation will not pass away until everything He said has happened.  The generation Jesus was speaking to has passed away and all of those things has not yet occurred, here, over 2,000 years later.  

Let’s look at the passage in Matthew again from the beginning: In Chapter 25, verse 31, we read, “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His throne in heavenly glory.”  We saw that this is not the Rapture, but rather, the Harvest.  Verse 32 reads, “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.”  Note that it does not say that everyone one from every nation will be before Him at this time.  It says that all nations/ethnicities will be represented at this meeting.  The bible is very precise in its words.  Understanding with true precision rids all apparent contradictions.  Verse 33 says, “He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on His left.”  We learned from other Scripture that Jesus here divides up the religious folks (during the Tribulation period).  He separates the legit religious people (the sheep) from the illegitimate people (the goats).  It is important to be on God’s “right hand.”  “Right hand” in the bible indicates a position of power and authority.  It is a position of favor.  

Matthew 25:34 reads, “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.’”  The word “inheritance” refers to a reward.  The Kingdom is God’s reward for the believer in Christ; and as we saw, it is rewarded not to all Christians, but just the overcomer Christians.  Ironically, it appears that all who become Christian during the Tribulation period will indeed be sincere, devout, overcoming Christians.  They will all be new converts.  Often, it is the new converts who is the most active and devout.  Also, during the Tribulation period, to be a Christian is to be persecuted.  Everyone who does not accept the mark of the beast will be persecuted.  These Christians know what it is to serve the Lord and to carry their crosses.  They know what it is to suffer for Jesus.

Jesus then gives the reason why they have been rewarded the Kingdom.  Verse 35 says, “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.”  These are all works that Jesus lists.  It makes sense.  It didn’t make sense before I understood the Kingdom of Heaven; but now it makes perfect sense.  Not only is this not the judgement of the Church; not only are we beyond the Day of Grace period, and the rules reverted back to Old Testament times; but also, Jesus specifically says here, that these people are rewarded the Kingdom, and we now know that the Kingdom is by faith and works; Heaven is by faith alone.  I don’t think I explained that the rules revert back to the Old Testament times.  From the Tribulation period on throughout the 1,000 year Millennium period, the Sabbath, along with other ordinances from the Old Testament will once again be required by God’s people.  The Prophets predicted this, but I won’t expound on that point further.  

The righteous seem surprised by Jesus’ statement.  Verse 37 says, “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?’” I’m sure it is a good deed to visit people in prison, but this, specifically, is not referring to visiting criminals in prison.  During the Tribulation period, Christians will be the ones imprisoned.  It will be a crime to speak of Jesus in public. To visit a Christian in prison will be to risk one’s own freedom and even life.  Remember, Jesus is talking to Tribulation Christians; He is not talking to people of the Church.  It is definitely a great deed to feed the hungry; but again, Jesus is not referring to randomly feeding poor people (though I urge all readers to do that.  It is a great deed!)  The question is, when did we see YOU hungry; and the answer will be, “when you did it to the least of these, you did it unto Me.”  The issue is feeding Jesus.  We feed Jesus when we feed believers in Jesus.  By feeding sinners outside of Christ, that is a good deed, but by feeding Christians, that is feeding Jesus.  Christians will go hungry during the Tribulation because in order to buy food from the market place, one has to accept the Mark of the Beast.  That will be the only accepted currency of the day.  Christians will not only be hungry, but they will also not be able to buy clothes.  So the only way they will be able to survive at all will be by taking care of each other.  

Verse 40: “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.’” Again, Jesus did not say, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these sons of the Devil, you did for Me.”  “Brothers” refers to Christians.   This entire passage is about Christians helping Christians.  It reminds me of 1 Timothy 4:10, which says, “This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.”  The Cross is for everyone and saves all men (if they believe), but it especially saves believers.  Christians are called to be benevolent to everyone, but especially to other Christians.  

Verse 41 continues, “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.’” Again, this is just the sentence.  They won’t actually be thrown into Hell, or the Lake of Fire, until Revelation 20.  This occurs during Revelation 14.  It is interesting to learn that Hell was created specifically for Satan and his demons.  Hell was not created with mankind in mind.  But God decided to allow man to go there if they choose to follow Satan instead of Him.  One does not have to believe Hell is real, one will simply find out that it is real when they get there.  Verse 42 says, “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.”  This is the religious order that is being judged, consisting mostly of the Roman Catholic Church.  During this time, they will not reach out to Christians at all.  Nor would that matter, for they reject Christ and live by works.  Romans 11:6 says, “If it is by grace, then it is no longer by works, otherwise grace would no longer be grace.”  Verse 43 says, “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.”  Sinners do actually tend to look after themselves and those they love, but they do not look after God’s people.  

Verse 44:  “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?’”  Notice that they called Him “Lord.”  They called Him Lord because this is the Catholic church, yet they also chose to worship another deity in Mary, Jesus’ mother, and they lived by works; not by faith.  Muslims would not respond, “Lord” and wonder why Jesus was not accepting them.  Nor would Buddhists or atheists.  Only people who feel close enough to Jesus would call Him Lord and wonder why Jesus is rejecting them at all.  These people, like the sheep before them, are also surprised by Jesus’ response.  Jesus accepted the sheep and the sheep were surprised by His commission of eternal reward.  Jesus rejects the goats and the goats are surprised that Jesus rejects them and condemns them to Hell.  

Verses 45-46: “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.”  

I’ll close this post with Matthew 7:21-23.  This, as I mentioned before, is one of the most misinterpreted passages of the bible and is often incorrectly used to prove that salvation is by works.  We should know enough by now to interpret this passage correctly.  It is the exact same event as Matthew 25 and Revelation 14.  It is the judgment of the Roman Catholic Church—false believers.  Verse 21 reads, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in Heaven.”  This agrees with everything we have studied.  To enter the Kingdom, we have to do God’s will, and not just believe, and certainly not just have an outward appearance, and shout “Lord, Lord” in church when He is not in one’s heart.  Verse 22 says, “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord,’ did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’  The people Jesus is speaking to are definitely not atheists, Muslims, JW’s, Buddhists, or agnostics.  They never have done the things these people claim to have done.  These are people who have invoked the name of Jesus to cast out demons and to perform miracles.  Who does that sound like?  This is clearly the Roman Catholic Church.  If a person is demon possessed, the Catholic Church is known for successfully freeing people by invoking the name of the Lord, but that does not mean that they are saved.  To be saved, we cannot worship Mary, and salvation is by faith, not by works.  These people appeal for their salvation on the basis of their works.  They did have works!  What they should have tried to say was something like, “Lord, did we not have faith in your Name?”  But instead, they appealed to their works, which can never save anyone.  Our best works to God, according to Isaiah, are like filthy rags. They can never save us.  Jesus concludes in verse 23, “Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you.  Away from me, you evildoers!’”

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Works versus Faith (Part 19) – The Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25)
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