Purpose of Guarding the Treasure

The purpose of this blog is to encourage readers to invest their time into the Word of God and "Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you." Paul wrote these words to Timothy (2 Timothy 1:14) in his presumed last letter before his execution. May we be those who see the word of God as a treasure, guarding it with our lives, investing in it with our hearts and minds, and reaping the fruit of an abundant life while getting to know the God who loves us and created us for His marvelous pleasure and glory.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sheep and Goats Judgment - - Who are Brothers of the King?

This section in Matthew is incredible as Christ provides prophetic insight into the end of the age with this Olivet discourse. We have to go all the way back to Matthew 24:3 to get the context for the answer Jesus provides from Matthew 24:4-25:46 to a question posed by His disciples, “And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" As such, Jesus provides prophecy concerning the sign of His second coming and the end of the age.

Jesus warns them about many misleading anti-Christ's, wars and rumored wars among nations and kingdoms, famines and earthquakes, tribulations for Israel, persecution and death for the sake of Christ and increased lawlessness (Matthew 24:4-14). Jesus warns of the literal antichrist prophesied by Daniel who will desecrate the temple and bring a great tribulation upon the nation of Israel which is unprecedented (Matthew 24:15-22). Finally, Christ warns of false teachers who will deceive the nations, but reminds them that no one will miss His magnificent return after the tribulation (Matthew 24:23-31).

Jesus then uses parables and historical events to help them better understand the setting and time of His return including the example of the fig tree (Matthew 24:32-36), the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37-44), the relationship between a slave and his master (Matthew 24:45-51), 10 virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), and talents entrusted to slaves (Matthew 25:14-30).

Now, let's look at the sheep and goats judgment, "But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.' Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' And the King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.' Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 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; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.' Then they themselves also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?' Then He will answer them, saying, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." (Matthew 25:31-46)

Jesus describes the ushering in of His millennial kingdom in more detail. Coming in glory and with all His angels, Jesus will sit on His throne as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The nations will all be gathered together and the Great Shepherd will separate His sheep from the goats. Clearly there is a distinction between the brothers, the sheep and the goats in this passage. It appears from the context that the nations gathered making up the sheep and the goats are the Gentile survivors of the great tribulation on earth while the brothers of Christ are the surviving Israelites. The sheep on the right will inherit the kingdom prepared for them because they believed in Christ and helped the Lord's brothers during the tribulation, meeting their needs such as providing food, drink, shelter, clothing, and fellowship for sick and imprisoned Israelites. By serving the King's brothers they were also serving the King. The goats on the left are accursed because they did not believe in Christ and joined in the persecution of the Israelites during the tribulation. Their final destination is eternal separation from God in lake of fire.

To be sure Matthew 25:40 has been interpreted in many different ways to advocate among other things helping of the poor and needy of our world. However, in the context, the passage seems to refer to the future end times with Christ’s return and that the Lord's brothers are specifically the believing Israelites who survive the great tribulation prior to Christ's millennial kingdom. While we may want to reconsider using this verse to support a cause to help the poor and needy, Jesus clearly taught his followers to love and serve the underdogs of this world (i.e. the poor, the widow, the orphan, the sick). Paul was eager to help the poor (Galatians 2:10). James wrote, "This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." (James 1:27)

Finally, Paul wrote about doing good to all, but especially to believers among the body of Christ, "And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith." (Galatians 6:9-10) As Paul wrote in Titus 3:8, “This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God may be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.

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