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The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats also applies to the kingdom period. Its introduction shows this—”When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory.” (Matthew 25:31) The Greek word here translated “angels” means “messengers.” It is variously used in the Bible, referring at times to human beings as servants, and at other times to spirit beings, and at times, even to Inanimate things. Paul referred to his partial blindness as “a messenger of Satan.”—2Co 12:7 The “angels” of this parable, who sit with Jesus In the throne of his glory, are the members of his glorified led church. Paul wrote, “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?” (1 Corinthians 6:2) In Matthew 19:28 Jesus promised his disciples that they would sit on thrones judging the “twelve tribes of Israel.” But Israel will be only one of the nations to be judged thus by Jesus and his church, when together they sit upon the throne of his glory. (Revelation 3:21) As the parable shows, “all nations” will then be judged by them.

In his sermon on Mars’ Hill, Paul stated that God had appointed a day when he would judge the world in righteousness and had given assurance of this unto “all men” by raising Jesus from the dead to be the righteous judge. (Acts 17:31) This appointed “day” was not in Paul’s time. The people were not then on trial before Christ and will not be until the kingdom is established.

The work of judgment is also referred to in a prophecy recorded by Micah, chapter 4, verses 1 to 4. Micah shows that it will take place after the “mountain of the house of the Lord” is established in the “top of the mountains.” Has this yet occurred? Is the Lord’s kingdom today dominating all the nations of the earth? Surely not! The kingdom class is not controlling world affairs but instead is suffering persecution and must be subservient to worldly governments and depend upon their courts for the administration of justice.

When the kingdom of the Lord is established, the law will not go forth from human governments or from man- made institutions but from “Zion.” And the word of the Lord will go forth from “Jerusalem.” Not until then will the Lord “judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off.” Not until then will the nations “beat their swords into  plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks.” Not until then will they cease to “lift up sword against nation,” and learn war no more. Not until then will it be true that “none shall make them afraid.”

What wonderful changes there will be in human experience when the Lord judges among the nations! Who could possibly presume to say that this work of judgment is now going on? Are the nations now beating their swords into plowshares? Have they ceased to lift up swords against one another? Is the world enjoying the full economic security represented in this prophecy by the symbol of “every man” sitting under vine and fig tree?

And above all, is it true today, as this prophecy declares it will be when the Lord is judging among the nations, that there are none to “make afraid”? Never before has the world been So filled with fear. It is the time foretold by Jesus when men’s hearts would be “failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming upon the earth.” (Luke 21:26) No, this is not the world’s judgment day! The “sheep” are  not now being separated from the “goats.”

It is true that this parable was given by Jesus as one of the signs of his second presence. But we should remember that his presence lasts for more than a thousand years, and that the ultimate purpose of his return is the restoration of those for whom he died at his first advent. So the judgment- day work, while one of the signs of his presence, is a sign which has not yet appeared. We are witnessing the “distress of nations with perplexity,” but not their enlightenment and blessing. But when that judgment work does begin, it will continue until all who prove worthy during that thousand- year age will hear the Master say to them, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world”—the kingdom, or dominion, given to our first parents. —Mt 25:34; Genesis 1:28 The use of the word “blessed” in the Master’s statement, “Come, ye blessed of my Father,” is most significant.

Beginning with Abraham, God continued to promise the future blessing of all the “families,” or “nations,” of the earth. And now, at the close of the final judgment or trial day, the thousand- year kingdom day, we find Jesus saying to those who pass successfully through that trial, “Come, ye blessed of my Father.” These are the ones, in other words, whom the Father promised to bless and who will then be blessed.

Jehovah promised to “bless,” these families, or nations, through the “Seed” of Abraham. Jesus, the Head of that “seed” class, first died to redeem them. Then he comes In the throne of his glory, his church with him, to administer the blessings he provided through his death, the blessings of”restitution,”of “regeneration,”of”resurrection.” God commanded our first parents to multiply and fill the earth and to have dominion over it. He knew that this would be done, and to emphasize the triumph of Jehovah’s loving purpose toward man, the invitation will be extended, “Come, inherit the dominion prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” The ones for whom it was originally prepared are the ones who will finally receive it—the “blessed” of the Father.

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The opening verse of this parable indicates the time of its application. It refers to the period of Christ’s reign over the earth, from His assumption of power at the commencement of the Millennium to the cleansing of the world from the last trace of evil. “When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory; and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats” (‘Matt. 25. 31-32). Jesus cast this parable against the background of Daniel’s vision (Dan. 7. 9-10) in which that prophet saw the “Ancient of Days” seated upon a throne of splendor with myriads assembled before Him for judgment, one “like the Son of Man” coming with the clouds of heaven to be brought before Him, and the kingship of earth being formally committed to that Son of Man and his companions, the “people of the saints of the Most High” that they might possess the kingdom for ever. Meanwhile the evil powers and institutions of the old world were being destroyed in a great holocaust of fire. Jesus knew himself to be that “Son of Man” and his disciples and those that should afterwards believe on His Name to be the “people of the saints of the Most High” that were to be joined with Him in that Kingdom, and in this parable He set down the purpose and the character of his kingship over the nations during the Age of his glory.

The disciples must have understood this parable more clearly than any other parable. They were so accustomed to this view of the Messianic reign. How often in the Temple services would they join with intense feeling in the inspiring strains of the twenty-fourth Psalm “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty…” How they must have conned over the mystic vision of Zechariah “Behold the man whose name is the BRANCH … he shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne” (Zech. 6. 12-13). Jewish literature of the date of the First Advent is full of such references, and Jesus himself must have been thoroughly familiar with them. It is thought that the very phraseology of this parable was suggested to his mind by passages in the Book of Enoch, a book with which He would certainly be well acquainted: “On that day mine Elect One shall sit on the throne of glory and shall try their works … and I will transform the earth and make it a blessing … for I have provided and satisfied with peace my righteous ones, and have caused them to dwell before me: but for the sinners there is judgment impending with me, so that I shall destroy them from the face of the earth”. “And the Lord of Spirits seated him upon the throne of his glory, and the spirit of righteousness was poured out upon him, and the word of his mouth slays all the sinners … and they shall be downcast of countenance, and pain shall seize them, when they see the Son of Man sitting on the throne of his glory” (I Enoch 45. 3-6 and 62. 2-5). Another passage in the same work, quoted by Jude, runs “And behold! he cometh with ten thousands of his holy ones to execute judgment upon all, and to destroy all the ungodly; and to convict all flesh of all the works of their ungodliness which they have ungodly committed, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (I Enoch 1. 9: compare Jude 14-15). Here is a reference that parallels the various sayings of Jesus regarding the “angels” or messengers that will be with him at his coming, the members of his Church, raised from the sleep of death, or changed “in the twinkling of an eye” as the case may be, united with him and revealed with him to the world in glory.

The vision of the Great White Throne of Revelation 20:11 is parallel to that of Daniel 7 and to this parable. In Revelation there is the same standing of the nations, the “dead, small and great”, before the Throne, the same judgment and separation between good and evil, and the same condemnation of sin and sinners. These three pas-sages between them afford a wonderfully vivid picture of the work of judgment that is carried on throughout the Millennial Age, a work that divides and separates men into two classes, those who choose righteousness and life, and those who choose unrighteousness and death.

The basis of the selection, feeding or not feeding the hungry, clothing or failing to clothe the naked, and so on, is an allusion to the very practical ideas held by thinking men in Jesus’ day as to what constituted fitness or unfitness for eternal life. Such “good works” have always been features of the religious life of true Jews. There is a parallel to the Lord’s words in the “Secrets of Enoch” (not to be confused with the Book of Enoch just now mentioned, and usually known as 2 Enoch to distinguish it from that book), a work which was known to pious Jews during His life-time, or at any rate shortly thereafter. The book itself is of no particular value to Christians; it presents the truths of religion as they appeared to orthodox Jews of the First Century and was to them what many theological works are to us today; and was strongly colored with Greek and Oriental ‘philosophies. But the passage in question is interesting: it describes Enoch’s visit to Paradise, in the third heaven (compare Paul’s use of this term when writing to the Corinthians) and his guides say to him “This place, O Enoch, is pre-pared for the righteous who endure every kind of attack in their lives from those who afflict their souls: who turn away their eyes from unrighteous-ness, and accomplish a righteous judgment, and also give bread to the hungry, and clothe the naked, and raise the fallen, and assist the orphans who are oppressed, and who walk without blame before the face of the Lord, and serve him only. For them this place is prepared as an eternal inheritance”. The likeness of these words to the parable is obvious. The following reference to the sinners is also highly significant. They are said to be cast into hell in the third heaven. That is a fitting description of that death which comes to sinners in or at the end of the Millennial Age, the third heaven of which Paul spoke. “And I (Enoch) said, Woe, woe, how terrible is this place! And the men said to me: This place, Enoch, is prepared for those who do not honor God: who commit evil deeds on earth … oppressing the poor and spoiling them of their possessions … who when they might feed the hungry, allow them to die of famine: who when they might clothe them, strip them naked … (2 Enoch 9 and 10). If in fact Jesus was familiar with the book and did take these passages as the basis of his parable it is easy to see how readily his hearers would grasp his meaning, and connect the “sheep” and “goats” who “did” or “did it not” with the final judgment upon righteous and evil men. At any rate the similarity of thought shows that the sentiment portrayed was one that was quite familiar to Jewish ears.

In the parable the “sheep” are those who manifest the practical Christian virtues toward their fellows; feeding the hungry and thirsty, sheltering the stranger, clothing the naked, caring for the sick and delivering those in bondage. It has been pointed out that of the seven obligations laid upon the Christian in the New Testament only one; visiting the fatherless; is omitted in this parable. The reason is not hard to discern; there will be no, fatherless in the Millennium! All will have been restored to conscious life by the Redeemer, Jesus, and all may thenceforth become sons of God by reconciliation to him. But there will be many hungry, naked and in prison, at first. Men, returning from the grave, will have the same characters and dispositions that were theirs at death, and the result will be that, although physically whole, many will still `be mentally and morally sick, in prison by reason of bondage to their past vices and depravity, naked as respects fitness for the new world into which they have come, and whether they realize the fact or not, hungry and thirsty for the blessings of life and knowledge that the Kingdom is designed to give them. There is a link here with the Parable of the Good Samaritan; it will be remembered that Jesus gave that parable in answer to a question “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” and the Samaritan who undertook the care and healing of the distressed wayfarer was the one shown to be worthy of such. So it will be in the Millennial Age; the man who is making progress toward perfection and harmony with God will be actively employed in helping and assisting his fellows in every conceivable way; the selfish and the sinner will be indifferent to such service and Jesus in the parable points to this as a touchstone by which the true state of the heart can be indicated.

The question put both by sheep and goats “When saw we thee an hungered, or athirst…” and so on, is a rhetorical one, put into the mouths of the characters in order to row into prominence tike essential, principle of these “good works”; inasmuch as ye did it–or did it not-unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it-or did it not-unto me. Our Lord’s concern for those He came to seek and to save is such that every service or disservice rendered to them He feels as if rendered to Him. More; since He gave his own life, at the coast of great suffering, for the salvation of .men, and is to establish his thousand year reign on earth for the purpose of persuading as many as can possibly be persuaded to “turn from sin to serve the living God”, it follows that every service or disservice rendered to men in that day is either a help or a hindrance to the execution of the King’s plans, and therefore can be aptly said to be done, or not done, unto him. No one in that Age can escape working, either for or against the purposes of God–and all will be judged accordingly.

“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand. `Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’ ” (vs. 34). This “kingdom” is not the same as the Millennial Kingdom of Christ. That is a kingdom in which all men are under discipline, and all, good and bad alike, are present in that kingdom and must perforce remain so until they have come to a full knowledge of the truth and made their choice between “life and death, good and evil”. This is a kingdom entrance into which is granted only to the proved righteous, to those who have passed the test and are in no sense unclean. It thus corresponds to the Holy City of Rev. 21 and 22, into which nothing unclean or that defileth will ever enter. It is the kingdom of the earth after the Millennial Age, which men inherit as kings in their own right, living, moving and having their being in God the Father and con-ducting their own affairs on a basis of equality with each other in harmony with the laws of righteousness.

“Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, `Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (vs. 41). Here we have the antithesis to the Holy City, the lake of fire of Revelation 19 and 20, symbolic of utter destruction. The allusion is, of course, to the valley of Gehenna outside Jerusalem, where perpetual fires destroyed the- refuse of the city. Jesus took the illustration from the apocalyptic literature of his day, and his hearers would realize quite naturally what He meant. The final verse of the parable perhaps makes this more clear “These shall go away into everlasting punishment”, where “punishment” is kolasin, disciplinary restraint, and not timora, which is the word that indicates penal infliction in the sense of the English word punishment. Kolasin, derived from the verb kolazo, which means to lop or prune trees, hence to check, curb or restrain, is very descriptive of the purpose of God with irrecoverable sinners. “They shall be as though they had not been”; they will be “cut off from among the people” and so the expression “everlasting” (or enduring) punishment can be accurately rendered “final cutting-off”. That cutting-off is as permanent and everlasting as is the eternal life of the righteous mentioned in the same verse.