Skip to main content

The topic of sheep won't go away. Matthew 25.

This topic of the sheep and goats won't go away; it just keeps popping up it's twisted little head.
Last Monday, this was the leaders opening statement,
“..if I am wrong with any of my statements, then you men stop me and correct me.”
He then proceeded to say,
“as we have been talking about, for weeks now, based on Dake's notes concerning the Millennium, the sheep we see in Matthew 25 are those who have helped Israel.”
This man was and still is, sporadically, a Mathematics teacher at a community college. Before that, he taught high school in a tough neighborhood. So he is adept at quelling loud mouths and rebellious talk, and, anything we say or do, is often taken as such. On several occasions he has loudly slapped the table as he brashly stated, that is my opinion, and I don't care what you say. Now get realistic. What is that supposed to mean? And, if it is not some arrogant attitude, then it is intended to intimidate those who are rebutting his opinions concerning scripture.
Later on that same week I ran into one of the men who did not make the study. I told him what the major topic was that morning. Immediately began his agreement with the thesis and got rather defensive of it. I tried to make him understand how and why this is wrong, but he refused to hear the truth. The sadder truth is that there are more people just like this, and false teachers, teaching the doctrine of demons, have created this confusion and prevented people from finding the truth in God's word.
Here is a clue to help you lead Bible study:
If you don't know what the answer is and can't find at least two scripture passages to validate what you are saying, then you are preaching opinion and conjecture. Your opinion may have a logical path, but it needs to designated as such and not spoken as though it is the word of God and church doctrine. Since it is your opinion, then you need to allow for rebuttal, because you are going to get plenty of it, and deservedly so.
Back to the presumptuous statement in question:
the sheep we see in Matthew 25 are those who have helped Israel.”
  • I have looked intently, and there is nothing in scripture to back this statement up.
  • The leader acted as though he was basing his statements on comments made by Francis Jennings Dake. I happen to use a Dake's commentary Bible, and I do not see this statement anywhere in there. So, this is conjecture on the part of the leader.
  • And, the most foolish aspect of this is that the leader is trying to force a twisted teaching upon us. This is easily resolved if you are willing to pay attention to the context, and Matthew 25 has a framework that starts in Matthew 22.
Since I directed us to consider the context, then let's do that.
Matthew 25:32 CJB All the nations will be assembled before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates sheep from goats.
So, I know that it is the nations that are assembled before him. If I consider that there are only three people groups in the world right now – the Jews, the nations, and the church; I also have to consider that historically the nations were nothing less than harmful to the nation Israel. Why then would I make the assumption that the sheep would be supportive of Israel? Can I exclude the possibility that the sheep, some subset within the nations, are supportive of Israel? No, but since we find nothing to validate this assertion, then it is foolishness to push it off on people.
A second point when considering the context.
Matthew 25:31 CJB "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, accompanied by all the angels, he will sit on his glorious throne.
While the idea of Jesus coming in his glory is spread across multiple sources, there is only one place in which he will sit on his glorious throne, and that is on the final throne of judgment, which Revelation 20 tells us is the great white throne. In either case, this is the only place where people are judged and sent to eternal punishment. So, when I put the phrase, “..the Son of Man comes in his glory,” together with the final judgment, then it is easy to see that Matthew 25 and Revelation 20 are the same event.
What kind of problems does this understanding cause us?
In Matthew Jesus is represented as the loving shepherd, while the Revelation reveals him to be the angry God that brings final justice, and I can tell you from experience that the deluded cannot and will not accept that these two events are the same.
What else proves that these two events are the same?
Matthew 25:41 CJB "Then he will also speak to those on his left, saying, 'Get away from me, you who are cursed! Go off into the fire prepared for the Adversary and his angels!
Since the sheep, who obtain mercy are on the right, then these are the goats, and destined for what the Amplified calls, “the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels!”
What is the contrast comparison of Revelation 20?
Revelation 20:12 CJB And I saw the dead, both great and small, standing in front of the throne. Books were opened; and another book was opened, the Book of Life; and the dead were judged from what was written in the books, according to what they had done.
It happens everywhere you go, whether in Bible study or church; the assumption is made that everyone we see in Matthew's account is alive, and we disassociate these dead from the nations when we read the Revelation. It is these assumptions that cause us great grief when we try to understand God's word. Maybe we can quell our arguments if we consider that just a few verses prior God deceives the nations and then kills them.
Revelation 20:8 CJB and will go out to deceive the nations in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for the battle. Their number is countless as the sand on the seashore;
So the nations are involved, as is their demise:
Revelation 20:9 CJB and they came up over the breadth of the Land and surrounded the camp of God's people and the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and consumed them.
If I wanted to make the statement that someone from the nations showed Israel some useful help, as the Bible study leader asserts, I do not see that here; we see them surrounding the city and God's people, for the purpose of harm.
Revelation 20:9 CJB and they came up over the breadth of the Land and surrounded the camp of God's people and the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and consumed them.
The judgment and finality of that decision are seen in both Revelation 20 and in Matthew 25, adding to the evidence that they are the same incident.
Revelation 20:10 CJB The Adversary who had deceived them was hurled into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet were; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
Matthew 25:41 CJB "Then he will also speak to those on his left, saying, 'Get away from me, you who are cursed! Go off into the fire prepared for the Adversary and his angels!
Matthew 25:46 CJB They will go off to eternal punishment, but those who have done what God wants will go to eternal life."
A third and final comment on context.
Dake's notes direct the reader to Matthew 13:24 – 43 when you digging a little deeper. Here is what many of the translations entitle that section of scripture. So let's examine how the parable compares with Matthew 25 and Revelation 20:
The Parable of the Weeds Explained
Matthew 13:24-43 CJB
  • Jesus is speaking. This same person speaking in our parallel passages. Why is that important? Because we are looking for validation and similarity.
  • The context is the kingdom of heaven, and this is found in every instance.
  • While I have not defined what the field is I can conjecture that it is the nations. Unquestionably, Matthew 25 says that he calls the nations to him, but can we say that about Revelation 20? The answer is yes, and we know this from the context which initiates around verse 8 where he draws the nations to surround the city of God – the New Jerusalem.
    Ask yourself: What is a field? Fallow ground; untamed; unusable; or land that is useful and merely awaiting preparation and planting?
  • This “field” has been planted, intentionally, with weeds – bad seed. In horticulture, we learned that even a pleasant plant, such as a daisy, is considered a weed if it is growing somewhere where it is not intended.
  • Both good seed and tares (bad seed) are allowed to grow together until they are harvested. Because Matthew 25 presents Jesus as the gentle shepherd, an image he intentionally conveyed to the Jewish people of His day, we miss the concept of a harvest. But let's get real for a moment. Would a shepherd be raising sheep because he enjoys them as pets? No, and so there is a time of harvest for the sheep, and, even the goats.
  • Just as the weeds are collected and burned up in the fire, so will it be at the end of the age.” In both Matthew 25 and Revelation 20, that thing that looks so similar to the good – whether a weed or a goat, is gathered and burned for eternity.
  • Then the righteous will shine forth like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.” In Matthew's account, the righteous are the sheep. Since we know that no man comes to the Father but through Jesus, here they are, standing before Jesus, being declared righteous, and given entrance into the kingdom. While we do not see those exact words, you should know that the unrighteous will not gain entrance into the Holy City or the Kingdom. Therefore, when verses like Matthew 25:34 tell us, “the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” then we can only assume that by their actions they have obtained a righteous standing.
I understand how Matthew 25 can throw your religious teaching and traditions concerning faith and works right out the window. At the least, it challenges our thinking, and no, I do not have the strongest handle on it yet. But I have come to understand one thing above all else, God is in control and not me. Therefore He gets the final word, and my judgments have to step aside. This control is exactly what Jesus was talking about when he told the parable of the man who hired people for the vineyard at the beginning of the day, and some were hired at the last minutes of the day. It did not matter to the owner for they all got paid the same. These, we see in Matthew 25 did nothing religious, as many of us have, and therefore did not pay the price we paid, like perhaps Jim Elliot did, with his life, and yet, they still gained entrance based upon giving someone a drink of water or feeding another. It seems to boil down to their lack of selfishness in those moments.
I have never been good at gambling. So to place my hope in a good deed seems like too large a gamble for me. No, life is not a gamble, it is all about faith and trust; therefore I put my trust and faith in Jesus Christ. He proved himself trustworthy and gave himself for me. Because I love him, I give myself to him, and that gives me hope. There is no gamble to it, merely trust.

Popular posts from this blog

Since we last spoke

The mens' group at the church I attend had at least one man attend the “Band of Brothers” boot camp. He in turn began to get others excited about it. Many of us have decided that they wanted more and we have chosen to stop playing church and be the church God called us to be. More, seems to have come through the author John Eldredge. Meeting in small groups, this is the first book that we, as a group, read, Wild at Heart Revised & Updated: Discovering the Secret of a Man's Soul by John Eldredge (Apr 19, 2011). I found this book to be a very emotional journey for me but you have to understand that I had reached a point in my life in which I had become desperately sick of the pain inside and the fear filled life I lived. I am sharing this with you because the battle for the heart and mind is common to all of us. A friend of mine who had already been to this “boot camp” was very excited about the changes he was experiencing in his own life. I was hooked because something had …

Daniel chapter 10 commentary and notes for Bible study

While a commentary on Daniel chapter 10 may seem uneventful, it was a part of my preparation for Bible study with the men. You see I am just like most of you, a guy who has wanted to understand what I read and its relationship to what is going on around me. I guess that makes me an eschatology person. The guys I sit with call me the expert; I am hardly an expert and I had a religious life filled with presuppositions. Church, while being the place where much of the mental abuse came from, did give me a deep understanding that God loved me; that love trailed me like a hound as I rebounded from hurt to hurt and struggled to free myself from co-dependency - I didn't even understand what that was until a few years ago. As many of you know I put myself in a recovery group called Celebrate Recovery which uses many of the same principles as AA. I did this because my wife wanted me to get help for my rage, and I wanted help as well. For a short period, I worked the information table. Ther…

What drives you?

This was the title of the morning sermon.

This morning pastor stepped back to a seat among the audience as he handed the microphone over to a lady who has the gift of evangelism. Every time she speaks the message always has strong overtones of evangelism mixed in. I am sure we will probably have more of these as pastor alluded to how great it is to have an evangelistic pastor on staff.

I will tell you straight out, I, am not an evangelist. Oh, you could go on a big rant about how we all are to be evangelists, but then you don't deal with the damage in my head and what I have seen that turned me so hard against doing something like that.

My gifting is as a teacher. Do I get the opportunity to do this teaching thing as I wished, a big NO is in order here, but I do push the door as often as I can, as I look for opportunities to do just that.

I want to tell you about how one of those moments arose recently.

The wife and I got up leisurely, drove without incident down the freeway, and…