Are you a sheep or a goat? PI

sheep or goatMatthew 25: 31- 46 

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 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.” Matthew 25: 31- 33

Are you a sheep or a goat? The foolish will be judged and removed from the wise; the wasteful and fearful will be separated from those who love and trust in Christ (Matt. 25:14-30).

This parable is about the coming, final, inescapable Judgment! There was a judgment that was escapable, when the Jews could flee from their homes and business as the Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. But, this time there will be no escape; all will be judged! It is about evaluation and separation; the good are set apart from the bad! The faithful are rewarded; the unfaithful are damned. The wise are praised and the foolish are judged Matt. 25:1-46).

Those who are in Christ will receive their blessings, and those who willfully reject Him will be cursed! This is a harsh teaching; nonetheless, it is true, and it will happen (Rom. 3:23; 6:23)!

When the Son of Man comes. This refers to Christ’s reign on earth, predicted by Daniel (Dan. 7:13-14). This is a depiction of our Lord’s absolute authority over the apocalypse, judging all who have ever lived, and of both His omnipresence and omniscience.

Angels. Jesus is perhaps quoting Zechariah 14:5. Angels are important and powerful in Jewish mysticism; however, Jesus is the Judge who will evaluate us as to whether we are saved or not, and reward us for how we served and represented Him (Psalm 62:12; Prov. 24:12; Jer. 17:10; 32:19; Ezek. 18:30; Daniel 7:13-14.).

All nations will be gathered. This is the Judgment to come; no one will be immune or have a “get-out-of-jail-free card,” unless he or she is in Christ (Isa. 2:4 Mic. 4:3).

Sheep and goats. Both the sheep and the goats grazed together and were herded together; they were both for food; the sheep gave clothing and the goats gave milk and cheese. At night, they were separated. The sheep needed the outdoors, for their fur kept them warm; the goats needed to be inside or they might freeze to death. Sheep were much more valuable to the Jews because of the necessity of clothing they provided and the income from the selling of the wool. Sheep are also the representation of God’s chosen people (Ezek. 34; Matt. 10:16; 18:12). In pagan literature, goats were associated with the devil and being bad, whereas sheep were representative of good.

Do you realize who you are in Christ? As His child, do you realize how much He loves you, how valuable you are?

Separate. The segregation referred to individuals, not nations as a whole. Nations referred to all people groups. Right hand.  Left, in ancient customs, the right side was the place of authority and power, whereas the left was for guests or those in trouble.

Reflection:

When Jesus comes back, it will be magnificent, but it will also be a time of extreme anguish, as people will be separated and condemned for their blatant foolishness in not accepting Christ as Lord. It will also be a time of condemnation, woe, and guilt, as there will be judgment for those who wasted the gifts and opportunities He gave. We all will be surprised to see who made it and who did not! What Christian leaders will be there, and which ones will not? Which ministry will be praised and which ones will not? Those we think are the real Christians may turn out to be pretenders, and those we toss aside, thinking they are not worthy, may be the heroes, as we look at pride and accomplishments; God looks at the heart (1 Sam. 16:7).

Those who are in Christ will receive blessings, and those who willfully reject Him will be cursed. Is this fair? Yes or no? Why?

At His second coming, Jesus will be looking for those who are prepared and faithful. What have you learned to help you be prepared?

Christ’s return will be glorious and present us, the faithful, with commendation, victory, and security. How can this fact give you confidence and help build your faith?

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What the Parable of the Tares Teaches us About the Rapture?

In a previous article, I showed that the wicked are taken out of the picture before the gathering of the Church. In this article, I will show that this teaching is also found in the parables of Jesus, particularly in the Parable of the Tares.

Matthew chapter 13 first records the Parable of the Tares (13:25-30) and then its interpretation by Jesus (13:36-43). The parable is about a farmer who had an enemy. When the farmer sowed his wheat, the enemy came during the night and sowed “tares” amongst the wheat. Tares are a kind weed commonly found in Palestine, also referred to as “cheat” or “bearded darnel.”

The servants of the farmer wanted to go through the fields and rip out all the tares, but the farmer stopped them saying that the process of tearing out the tares would only make things worse because the wheat would also be torn. They were to be allowed to grow together until harvest time and then the tares would be gathered first and thrown into the fire. This would be followed by the harvest of the wheat.

You’ve probably already guessed the meaning of this parable, but in case you haven’t, Jesus interprets it for us. So, we have here one of the few occasions when Jesus interprets his own parable for his disciples.

Jesus says that the sower is “the Son of Man” (v. 37), a title that He frequently used to refer to himself. The field “is the world” (v. 38). This parable is not talking about wheat and tares growing up together in the church, but in the world. The good seed represents the “sons of the kingdom” (v. 38). These are the redeemed, that is, the Church of God.

The tares represent the “sons of the evil one” (v. 38). These are the wicked, those who refuse to follow the Christ of God. The enemy is the devil (v. 39). The harvesters are the angels of God who will participate in the judgment of the world (v. 41). The harvest is the Day of Judgment when the tares are gathered up and “thrown into the furnace of fire” where there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (v. 42).

The world is God’s field, but the devil will continue to sow wicked men and women in that field until the end of time. Christians are prohibited here from attempting to eliminate the wicked by force. Instead, the wicked and the redeemed are to grow up together until the day of harvest.

Now, in relation to the topic of this post, I come to the important question: WHO IS GATHERED UP FIRST, the Church or the wicked? Stop a moment before you answer that question. Go back to the text and read it. I’ll wait . . .

In the parable itself, the sower says to his servants: “First, gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up” (v. 30). In Jesus’ interpretation he says:

“The Son of Man will send forth his angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father (vv. 41-43).”

Did you notice the words that indicate sequencing? FIRST, the wicked are gather up and thrown into the furnace of fire. THEN the wheat (i.e., the children of the kingdom) are gathered into the barn.

Remember that the word “rapture” means “to be gathered up.” The only ones “gathered up” in the Parable of the Tares are the wicked. More importantly, they are gathered up BEFORE the believers are gathered into the Lord’s barn (v. 30).

Dr. Greg Waddell
Director of Institutional Improvement
Mid-South Christian College
DrGregWaddell (at) gmail.com

See his Blog: www.SpiritOfOrganization.com