In my last post, we finalized our study of the Parable of the Talents. In this post, we will begin to conclude our exploration of what Yeshua has to say about the End Times in the Christian Torah. Once again, I have divided the exploration of the Final Judgment into two parts.
The Final Judgment ~ Part 1
This so-called “parable of the sheep and goats” is not truly a parable but a metaphor around which Yeshua builds His message of judgment and salvation.
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, accompanied by all the angels, He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be assembled before Him, and He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates sheep from goats. The ‘sheep’ He will place at His right hand and the ‘goats’ at His left. Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take your inheritance, the Kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you made me your guest, I needed clothes and you provided them, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ ” ~ Matthew 25:31-36
He will sit on His glorious throne. This speaks of the earthly reign of Yeshua described in Revelation 20:4-6. This judgment precedes Yeshua’s millennial reign, and the subjects seem to be only those who are alive at His coming.
When the Son of Man comes pictures Yeshua when He will return, not as the humble carpenter from Nazareth but in His glory. The sight will be spectacular when the angels accompany the Son and we see him on His glorious throne (see also Matthew 16:27-28; 24:30-31; Zechariah 14:5). He will come as Judge, for All the nations will be assembled before Him. This fulfills Psalm 110:1, “Adonai says to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.’” Yeshua had quoted from this psalm in Matthew 22:41-45, applying the words to Himself. Paul later wrote, “for we must all appear before the Messiah’s court of judgment, where everyone will receive the good or bad consequences of what he did while he was in the body.” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:10
Yeshua used sheep and goats to picture the division between Believers and un-Believers. Sheep and goats often grazed together but were separated at night because the goats needed a warm shelter at night (their coats are not nearly as thick) while sheep preferred open air.
In the parable of the wheat and the weeds (Matthew 13:24-30), Yeshua had talked about a final separation at the Last Judgment. The sheep and goats grazed together; the wheat and weeds grew together. At the end, however, Yeshua, the Judge, will separate people one from another. While all nations are before Him, He will separate individuals, for each individual is responsible for his or her own salvation (as seen in the parable of the bridesmaids). This separation became a picture for the Last Judgment. The gathering and separating, part of the shepherd’s duties, further united the concept of the Son of Man as both Shepherd and Judge. (See also Ezekiel 34:17-23.)
The sheep were at the King’s right side, referring to a position of honor. Sheep were more commercially valuable than goats, and throughout Scripture they are an image for God’s people. Thus here they are identified as God’s chosen people, as seen in the words take your inheritance, the Kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world. This kingdom, existing from the beginning of time, is sure and unchangeable. Believers need never doubt its existence, nor the glory of it as their inheritance. This inheritance had been God’s plan for them since the founding of the world.
Verses 35-36 describes acts of mercy people can do every day. These acts do not depend on wealth, ability, or intelligence; they are simple acts freely given and freely received. No special talent is needed. Yeshua demands our personal involvement in caring for others’ needs (Isaiah 58:7). That this list is repeated four times in this parable indicates its importance as a guide for practical discipleship. The list is not exhaustive; instead, it represents all types of good deeds. This parable is not teaching salvation by good deeds, but evidence of salvation through good deeds.
“The rule for all of us is fairly simple: do not waste time bothering whether you love your neighbor; act as if you did.” ~ C. S. Lewis
In my next post, we will finish the exploration of the Final Judgment.