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The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats

((Matthew 25:31-46)

I am not one who has studied Eschatology which is the study of “End Times” events in their chronological order. However, I will attempt to give you a brief summary of what I believe the future has in store for us. I shared in Chapter One about an event that is called the “Rapture” of the church. This “snatching away,” of Christians into the air to meet Jesus, will happen in a blink of an eye and will not be noticed by unbelievers until after the event, when millions of people go missing all around the globe. No more than seven years after this supernatural event, Jesus will physically set foot in Jerusalem. All the saints from the time of Adam will be in the clouds witnessing the scene which will be played out on earth. The following parable will then be fulfilled. “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. The nations will be gathered before Him, He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set His sheep on His right hand but the goats on the left” (vv. 31-33).

On earth at this time, will be two groups of people. At the right of Jesus will be those who have surrendered their life to Him since the Rapture. Many of these would have mysteriously lost loved ones at that time, and would have remembered that they used to talk about such an event happening. Too late, they will realize that the Bible was true and they had been left behind. They would also realize that a great time of tribulation was coming to the earth and they would be hated and even murdered by the establishment of the day. These people would be longing for the day when Jesus would physically return, so that they would be safe. They are the “sheep” in the parable and will be rescued by Jesus.

Among this group will also be hundreds of thousands of Jewish people who have had a new revelation that Jesus Christ is in fact their awaited Messiah. Many others will have been martyred for their faith and will be among those who are witnessing from the clouds.

The second much larger group of people will be those who have hated the believers and would have surrendered their lives to the leadership of the Antichrist and his accomplice: the False Prophet. They would have willingly agreed to have the mark of the beast “666” implanted on their forehead or wrist and would have worshiped the “antichrist” in the temple in Jerusalem.

In the Book of Revelation says that the holy angels are going to come and reap the harvest. There is therefore, the harvest of the righteous and the harvest of the wicked. So those two harvests go up before Jesus, on Judgment Day, He separates the people just as the parable says into sheep and goats The Antichrist and the False Prophet will be cast alive into the lake of fire and the goats will be killed by the sword. Revelation 19:21.

Later on in the parable, Jesus said of the righteous, “the King says to those on his right hand, ‘Come you blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’” (v.34a.)

Consider this: “the Kingdom of Heaven was prepared from the foundation of the world for us” (v.34b.) Right up to this time, believers are to be doing the works of God listed in verses 35-36. Jesus continues, “For I was hungry and you gave Me food. I was thirsty, you gave Me drink. I was a stranger and you took Me in. I was naked and you clothed Me. I was sick and you visited Me. I was in prison and you came to Me.”

Where He mentions stranger in this New King James version, another translation says “I was homeless.” I just want to be practical here. I want my series on the parables of Jesus to be written in modern language so that is can be applied today.

It says, “For I was hungry and you gave me food” (v.35a) I direct my question to you my reader who sit in church each week; who are these hungry people? Where would you come across them? These days, most people in the churches are not literally hungry, but the “hungry” ones you need to minister to may be that lady with her children in your congregation who has a gambling husband or an alcoholic husband. Or they may actually be the single mom or a struggling family in your congregation who does not have the best of food or basic cookware. They might be the “hungry.”

And the thirsty, who are they? Not only are people thirsty for physical drink, but a lot of people are thirsty for spiritual water. They cannot afford tapes and books or the Bible itself. People hunger and thirst for righteousness. These people may be the first ones to arrive during services and the last ones to leave. They may have listened intently to every sermon. They are very hungry and thirsty for the things of God.

Why not buy them a DVD set of a good, anointed teacher? Buying books and resources is a way of feeding the thirsty and the hungry.

I know that it can be a dilemma whether or not to give money to the homeless because you worry that they’ll spend it on drugs or alcohol. But you can buy them a drink or something to eat. That is a way of feeding the hungry and the thirsty.

You know that in every city there are shelters for the homeless as well as food and soup kitchens. You can go down there and minister to the hungry and the thirsty, which would be a practical application of this verse.

“I was naked and you clothed me” (v.36). Many homeless people need new clothes. You can take them shopping at an Op Shop or at a community welfare shop. You can buy them some smart and inexpensive clothes.

There are many people in prison; there are those who are imprisoned emotionally, with whom you can spend time, open your house and invite them around. It’s so rewarding to lavish love on those people who are emotionally in prison. Inviting them around to your house or visiting them is something that most people could do.

It does not necessarily have to be a prison, but if you know of someone who has gone to prison, a visit is an encouraging thing to do. Perhaps your church might even have a prison ministry and you might feel led to become involved. I have been locked away in psychiatric wards, and it is an exciting thing to have visitors when you are in a bad place.

There are people who are sick in hospital and there are people who are sick in their mind. There are people who are desperately lonely. Visiting with those people—the people who tend to isolate themselves still need human company. Some people have become suspicious but even this wall can be broken down by love. Right up to the end we need to be like Jesus to people.

Some people are difficult to love. But when we show His love to these people, it is like we are showing love to Jesus. For instance, He says that when we feed the hungry, we are feeding Him, when we visited someone in prison, we are visiting Him.

For many years I believed that Christians could go to Hell and I used this parable against Christians. I am so please that I don’t believe that lie anymore! I just want to encourage you to be Christ to those you meet and to suggest practical applications as to how to minister to people.

Ask your pastor, or ask the elders in the church, “Who is the family that is struggling financially in our church?” You can buy them resources, you can buy them food or clothing. All you have to do is think about it, all you have to do is pray, “Lord, lead me to the people that need help.” It doesn’t cost much. Do you know that when you have no money and someone buys you a coffee, it is amazing?

Think of these poor people. The cheap clothes you buy for them, even those costing only twenty dollars, will not be forgotten by that single mother. The gambling husband of that single mother can’t sell the clothes you buy. You can clothe the children. You can bring around food. The gambling husband can’t sell the food you buy, and I am not picking on husbands here. It is normally the woman that does the actual shopping. I know that there are gambling women and gambling mothers who cause trouble too. So, just assume that I am talking about both sexes here.

Come on, my friends. The Sheep and the Goats Parable is a parable that sparks compassion for others. Don’t be like the man who looks at his reflection in a mirror and then forgets what he saw. The brother of Jesus said that we are to be doers of the word and not just hearers. (James 1:22).

I encourage you to go down to your soup kitchen and offer one night a week of your time. If you don’t have money, offer your time. If you have money, offer your time and your money. Often it’s easier just to give money, but there are many lonely people that want your time. You do not need to spend money. Come on, I encourage you. I have given you a few ideas. I have given you a practical application of this parable in today’s world. Go and multiply. Go and do the good works of the Savior. People will be blessed and so will you. Write a comment and tell me what you think.

To read more about Matthew Robert Payne or to know how to book him to speak at your church click on my name Matthew Robert Payne