September 7

Text: Matthew 25:32-34

"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.’”  (NASB)

The separation was not an arbitrary, random act—not an “eeny, meeny, miny, mo” act.  The separation was deliberate and based on specific criteria.  There was a reason for being in a specific group.  Though the separation involved two groups composed of many nationalities, it was a separation of individuals, not of nations.  The acts mentioned later were the acts of a person, not a nation.  The relevant question was, “What did you do?” not, “What nation were you in?”

The parable had two interesting contrasts.  The first concerned Jesus.  During his earthly ministry, he was an abused, misunderstood person easily moved by compassion.  However, he would return as the King who passed sentence on people (the people’s own behavior judged them).

The second concerned the sheep and the goats.  Though the goat was a “clean” animal (Leviticus 11:2, 3) that served many useful purposes, a herd of goats was used as the symbol of people who were rejected.  There is no known reason for this.  It was not unusual for goats to graze with sheep.  Often the goats and the sheep would need to be separated.  Separation was simple (sheep and goats commonly differed in colors and features).  Perhaps that was the basic reason for the use of goats—separating goats from sheep might have been a readily understood symbol of needful separation.

The blessed people were placed in the group on the right of the judge/King.  The kingdom was prepared for these people from its beginning.  The blessing was an inheritance—it was a gift based on qualifications.  These people were not paid earnings, but they were given a gift based on the type of people they were.   The gift was ancient.  It existed before most of these people existed.  This ancient gift existed for an intended purpose.  This event was a completion of that purpose.

Note: The acts that made these people who they were would not have endeared them to most societies.  At last they had a place where they belonged, where they “fit”.  Also note they were not prepared for the place, but the place was prepared for them.  They “fit” the place’s original intent.

Suggestion for reflection: Are we God’s people?  (Read Hebrews 11:13-16.)

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