Sheep and Goat Nations

By Brian C Thomas

Have you ever heard the saying: “separating the sheep from the goats?” Do you know that this phrase is derived from God’s Holy Scripture, the Bible? Jesus Christ spoke of dividing the sheep from the goats in His final discourse as he described the end of this age. He stated that a day would come when He would sit on His throne and gather all the nations before Him. And on that day He would then separate the nations just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. This account is found in the 25th chapter of the gospel of Matthew.
Here Jesus is bringing His final discourse of the gospel of Matthew to a close. As He brings it to a close, He takes a moment to remind the apostles of what He had told them. He reminds them that a time of tribulation is coming. This would be a time when they would see the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place. The same abomination of desolation that Daniel the prophet warned about. Jesus reminds them that they are to flee to the mountains of Judea because this will be a persecution such as has never been nor shall ever be again. This persecution is mentioned in the books of Daniel, Joel, Mark, and Matthew. These words are in reference to the great persecution of the Jewish people. Remember that Jesus came to His own people, the Jews, and they collectively did not receive Him. As Jesus concludes this discourse, He is once again pointing them to the end of the age – when the Son of Man will come and sit on His throne. He begins to tell what will happen in that day. This is a very important passage that must be understood in its proper context. Without the proper context, the true interpretation can be easily lost. So let’s look at Matthew 25 beginning with verse 31:
“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. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. Matthew 25:31-32
With this passage, He is alluding to the job of a shepherd. When a shepherd would take the sheep out to pasture, the goats would often go with them. The job of the shepherd was to make sure that they remain separate. With this analogy, Jesus is speaking here of a time of reward, a time of judgment. When the Son of Man returns to earth and sits on His glorious throne, the nations must be judged according to how they have treated His people, the Jews. After thousands of years of persecution, the Jews will finally have their day of vindication.
Before I go further into the 25th chapter of Matthew, let’s look at the book of Joel. Here we find a parallel passage in the 3rd chapter of Joel beginning with verse 11.
Assemble and come, all you nations,
      And gather together all around.
      Cause Your mighty ones to go down there, O LORD.
       “Let the nations be wakened, and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat;
      For there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations.
       Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe.
      Come, go down;
      For the winepress is full,
      The vats overflow—
      For their wickedness is great.”
       Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!
      For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.
Joel 3:11-14
As a short geography lesson, the valley of Jehoshaphat runs between the Mount of Olives and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. This is the same as the Kidron valley. Jesus is going to sit here and judge the nations when He returns to earth at the end of the Great Tribulation. This is known as the valley where God will judge.
Now as we go back to Matthew 25, Jesus sits on His glorious throne with all the nations gathered before Him. As they are gathered before Him, verse 33 says: “And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left”. The right-hand side of a throne is the side of power. Verse 34 goes on to read, “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:.
Make note of the word kingdom and the phrase from the foundation of the world. It is the sheep that are on the right and those are they that shall inherit the kingdom of God.
As we continue with the passage, “for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and 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.’”Matthew 25:35-36

Jesus is saying you sheep did these things for Me. As we move on:
“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?Matthew 25:37-39
’And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’  - Matthew 25:40
Jesus here is referring to the treatment of the Jewish people. During the Great Tribulation, the Jews will suffer for not taking the mark of the beast. Even Gentiles who do not accept the mark of the beast will be persecuted but the Antichrist will focus his torment on God’s chosen nation of Israel. They will be hungry, thrown into prison, etc during this time.
Now let’s look at Revelation chapter 13 for a brief review on what will happen during that time. Based on this chapter, we find that the Antichrist will have power for forty-two months (3 ½ years). This is referring to the beast. Verse 5 of Revelation chapter 13 says, “And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months”. This is the one known as the little horn from Daniel 7. We know this mouth and authority is given to the one who breaks the covenant in Daniel 9. These passages all point to the same person, the one who walks into the Holy of Holies, proclaims himself as God, and orders that all worship him or else be killed. It is the king described at the end of Daniel 11, the one described in Daniel 12. This is the one called the Antichrist, the man of lawlessness. 
Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. - Revelation 13:6
These are the holy ones, the ones who will be set aside. These are the ones that will be in prison, mistreated, hungry, thirsty, and naked. All of this will be done to them simply because they will not accept the mark of the beast.
And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.Revelation 13:7-8
When Jesus returns, it will be a day when He once again divides the world. There are those who are for Him and those who are against Him. The line is drawn, it is the clash of the kingdoms – clash of the kingdom of darkness versus the kingdom of light. In this clash of the kingdoms, the antichrist is the catalyst and he is drawing all of those against God unto him. And he then rules over them. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, those whose names have not been written in the Book of Life. These are all of those who do not belong to God, who from the foundation of the world have not been written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. These are the enemies of God, the ones that bow the knee and worship the antichrist. The only way that people will be able to buy or sell during the Great Tribulation is according to whether they take the mark of the beast. Revelation 13:14-15 refers to the false prophet, And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.”
Jesus has instructed the Jews to flee when they see the abomination of desolation standing in the Holy Place. People will be fleeing from the Antichrist and there will be a faithful remnant that will come through the fire, stand fast, and believe and realize that Yeshua is the Messiah. Who is going to help these people? Who is going to clothe them? Who is going to feed them? Who is going to give them drink for their thirst? It will be the sheep who Jesus will place on the right. It is the sheep who believe and follow God and honor God. They will not be caught up with the rest of the nations and these are those who are going to be blessed. Revelation 13 continues at verse 16, “He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.” This refers to those who give their allegiance to the Antichrist, the man of sin, the son of perdition. These are the ones that God is going to judge, they will be the goats on the left. This will happen during the time when the King will come and sit on His glorious throne. He will gather the nations before Him and separate them as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
Verse 41 of Matthew 25 reads, “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels”. This everlasting fire was not originally prepared for man but was for the devil and his fallen angels…the ones who rose up and rebelled against God. It was prepared for the anointed cherub who decided that he would be like God and would exalt himself before God. This is that wicked serpent that deceived mankind in the Garden of Eden. God prepared the lake of fire for him and the angels that chose to follow him. It was not prepared for man but yet man sided with the devil and when the nations are judged, man will enter into the lake of fire as well. The Righteous One will tell the goats that they will face eternal damnation in the lake of fire that was prepared for the devil and his angels. Christ will say, “for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as 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 everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25:41-46 So often we like to believe in eternal life but not in eternal punishment. It is rare to hear pastors speak on hell and the lake of fire today. We don’t like the idea that judgment can go on eternally, that there is a place where the worm dies not, where the fire is not quenched. But yet the same Greek word that is used for eternal life is used for eternal punishment.
Jesus will judge the nations that have either treated the Jews care and kindness or mistreated the Jews. Remember what God said to Abraham in Genesis 12:3, “I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Much of the Christian Church does not recognize the fact that Jesus was of the tribe of Judah, He was of the house of David. Jesus was a Jew, an Israelite. He came to His own and His own did not receive Him but yet He did not reject His own. During the final time of Tribulation, a time that the world has never seen, there will be the dividing of the sheep and the goats according to whether they have honored God’s word and blessed the Jews. We have seen the persecution of the Jews throughout history. It happened during the Crusades, the Russian Pogroms, and Hitler’s Holocaust. During these times, there were Gentiles who risked their own lives and well-being to help the Jewish people. They fed them, hid them, protected them, clothed them, and went to see them in prison. Those righteous Gentiles serve as a picture for us of the sheep that will be placed on the right when Jesus Christ comes and sits on His glorious throne and divides the nations. The people who have treated the Jews right will receive the gift of eternal life and those that have not will go into eternal damnation by way of the lake of fire. They will live forever and ever in a fire that never dies.
We must remember that once born, we all are eternal beings. We will live for eternity either in the presence of the Lord or in the lake of fire in the presence of the devil and all of his angels. The unsaved will suffer eternally with satan. Many do not want to face the fact that eternal suffering awaits those that reject God. They do not believe God would allow such a thing. But for those that do not believe it is because you have not read the book, you have not accepted the whole counsel of God. We serve a just and righteous God and sin that has not been accounted for cannot dwell in His presence. The day will come when Christ will separate the sheep from the goats. This leads to the question, “what is your attitude toward Israel, what is your attitude toward the Jews (the blood brothers of Jesus Christ)?” If you do not treat them properly, the day shall come that you will regret it. Looking back at Matthew 25, Jesus says to those on the right, come you who are blessed of my Father. He addresses them as blessed of His Father and then tells them how they took care of Him because they took care of the least of the brethren. Verse 37 says then the righteous will answer Him. These are righteous people. Remember that Jesus said unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven. The evidence of faith is righteousness. These sheep are the righteous that will take care of the Jews because of what they believe. They will be willing to risk their lives and side with the Jews because they will be righteous. Righteousness means doing what God says, aiming to please Him, doing what He says is right whether we understand it or not. Jesus will tell the goats, the accursed, to depart from Him into the eternal fire. Why are they accursed? Because they are not righteous.
This message is frequently taught but in a generalized manner. It is stated that as Christians we should visit those in prison, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, etc. Of course it is true that we should always abide by these basic Christian principles toward everyone. But the proper context of the “sheep and goats” is concerning the Jewish people and their persecution. Satan wants to destroy the nation of Israel because in doing so, he believes that would void God promise to the Jews and stop Jesus Christ from coming to establish His earthly kingdom. Only the righteous will inherit the kingdom of God, only the righteous will inherit eternal life. Is there righteousness in your life? Do you live according to what God’s word says? If not, your profession of God is nothing without the deeds of righteousness. I strongly to encourage all to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and to live according to His Word. Bless the Jewish people all over the world, make certain that you will be placed on the right and numbered amongst the sheep when Jesus Christ returns and sits on His glorious throne. Make certain by accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and treat the Jewish people properly. All who accept Him can find hope and great joy in the day that our Savior Jesus Christ will return to set up His kingdom. Until then, we pray for the Peace of Jerusalem, Blessings to great nation of Israel and to the only wise God, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.