The Judgment of Nations

Matthew 25:31-46

The coming of the Son of man in His glory will be at that moment Zechariah the prophet describes, “And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives…” (Zechariah 14:4; 16-19)

When Jesus Christ returns it will be to reign, sitting on His throne in Jerusalem. Some may desire to see this as all spiritual. However, if this is only spiritual, then, Jesus never came physically the first time, there was no physical body of death on the cross, that body was never laid in a tomb, and there was not a physical/bodily resurrection; therefore, we are yet in our sins (Read 1 Corinthians 15).

The prophets foretold the birth of a baby in a manger, not a vision, not an apparition, but a full in the body, flesh and blood baby who grew into a man. The gospel of Matthew gives many Old Testament prophetic references which foretell the birth, life, death, burial, and resurrection; and nearly as numerous as are the letters in this sentence.

To deny the bodily, physical return and rule and reign of Jesus Christ on earth is to make all His life a mockery.

“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” Matthew 25:31-32 (KJV)

It is clear from verse 32 that the judgment initiated will be upon the nations which remain, as the prophet Zechariah has written,

“And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain.” Zechariah 14:16-17 (KJV)

The time of this event will be at the appearing of Christ in glory, and he will make all things right, before He sets up His kingdom upon the earth. The end of the Tribulation will take place at His appearing. Those who turned and fought against Him are already dead, and awaiting the Great White Throne Judgment which will take place following the Millennial reign (Revelation 20:11-15). The Great White Throne judgment is the final judgment.

It seems that there will be people groups or nations which remain will come before Him, humble themselves, and will receive mercy. At the same time will be those who will not humble themselves before Him, and will not be shown mercy.

These nations will consist of those people who have remained alive through the Tribulation on earth – including Israel – and have refused to receive the mark of the Antichrist (Revelation 13:15-18). There will be a separation of nations, “as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats”. There is more said of nations in the Revelation (Revelation 21:24-26; 22:1-2).

“And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 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: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:33-40 (KJV)

It could be in order for us to more clearly understand the sheep and goat separation, that we might want to see the difference between sheep and goats.

Sheep are an almost helpless animal. The only defense they have is to bunch into a circle head first. They always need clean, clear, and still water. They are afraid of water – of getting into the water. They do not know when their supply of grass is finished, they will eat grass clear to the ground, therefore they need their shepherd to move them to green pastures. They are in need of the shepherd. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them…” It is said that the shepherds of Israel, at least in Jesus’s day, new their sheep by name, and called them, and the sheep would come.

There is a story told, and I believe it is true; that if you run a flock of sheep through a livestock chute single file, having a board under the lead sheep, and letting him jump it, then, removing it, that the remaining sheep will continue to jump even though the board is no longer there.

Goats on the other hand are very self sufficient. They are in need of nothing. They will eat or try to eat anything they can get in their mouth. Just about any water is good for them. No common or ordinary fence will hold a goat. You get the idea. They are the complete opposite of the sheep.

In this story of Jesus and His placing the sheep on His right hand we can see why. First of all those who come to Jesus to receive His mercy and grace must come to Him broken and humbled by His Person, beauty, power, Majesty, mercy and grace.

The reward of the sheep is to “inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world”. How is it that they had received this inheritance? They were the called and chosen, from “the foundation of the world”.

These are shown faithful through the Tribulation. They ministered to Jesus during that time. When Jesus was hungry they fed Him. When He was thirsty they gave Him drink. When He appeared as a stranger they took Him in. When He was destitute and without clothing they gave Him clothing. When He was in prison they visited Him.

“How and when did we do this?”, they asked. “When you did it unto the least of these, My brethren, you have done it unto Me”, said Jesus. If we would notice, there is nothing said of who, what, when, where, or why concerning an individual. It is the fact that it was done. The question is not asked of the hungry, “Are you working to make ends meet?” or a response to that, “If you’re not working that’s your problem”.

The people of the nations who will be good to “His brethren” will be rewarded in that final day.

“And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.” Matthew 25:33 (KJV)

“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: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.” Matthew 25:41-45 (KJV)

The sheep on His right hand have been rewarded for their humility before Him, and for their kind deeds shown to His brethren. The goats on His left hand are going to be shown something quite different.

With the goats there has been no humility before the Son of man. They only come because they had to do so. They are now under His authority, and must give an accounting of their lives, and deeds. They may not have received the mark of the Antichrist, but they were not about to be marked by any other; even Jesus. They are their own person. They are individualists.

The individualist is without excuse before holy God. Those of us who work hard to make a living in this life have, and we ought to have, a respect for others who work hard to gain in this world; however, many of those same people who work hard at physical labor, work hard also to gain favor with God. That will not cut it. That is your way, not God’s way. God’s way is Jesus Christ His Son, and His death, burial and resurrection. Any work that the Christian does is from salvation, not for salvation.

Where the “sheep” needs good grass to eat, the goat will eat almost anything. They have been known for eating, at least, chewing on tin cans. How does this fit the analogy of the sheep and goats. Christians are given the Word of God for our eating nourishment, and pleasure, and we are to grow through the reading and study of what God has said, and minister to one another. The goat on the other hand does not have to have a set menu. Grass, straw, tin cans, any ole thing will do.

Like the people today who eat to live healthy, or gain healthy life stats; so too does the Christian eat that which is for their health and well being. When I use the word “eat” concerning the Christian, of course, I am using the analogy of Prophet Ezekiel, and the Apostle John when they are told to “eat the scroll” (Ezekiel 3:1-3; Revelation 10:9). Jeremiah the prophet also said, “Thy words were found and I did eat them…” (Jeremiah 15:16). The sheep, those who love God, and keep His word, His commandments; love His word, devour it, desire to know God and His Word better.

Like the goat, those who merely have a works based faith will still devour things that are not spiritually good for them, and neglect the Word of God. They may enjoy a good camp out, fellowship, working at a fund raiser for a needy family. They may give all their time and devotion to always being busy for good causes and things; however; they do not know God.

Jesus said to them, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels…”. The truth of this matter is that they did not care for the brethren of the Lord. That would be all those who will believe in Him, and could also be reference to the Jewish people.

“And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” Matthew 25:46 (KJV)

These are entering “everlasting punishment” because they have refused to give glory to the Lord. Though that may not be said specifically; it is definitely implied throughout all of Scripture – “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God”; (Romans 3:23) “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God…” (1 Corinthians 10:31); “…He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (2 Corinthians 10:17).

Paul has written to the Church of Ephesus saying, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 (KJV). If you will note the word “grace” and the phrase, “Not of works”, and the phrase, “Lest any man should boast”. If any one could gain heaven, God’s favor by good deeds, then the work of Jesus Christ would be meaningless, and unnecessary. Those boasting of their good deeds for salvation will be quickly cast into “everlasting punishment”. We must understand that every individual of every nation at this judgment will give an account through their nation; but no individual will go into “everlasting punishment” who has received the faith of Jesus Christ.

Let’s look at the term “everlasting punishment”. There are so many people who have the illusion that when this life is over, then, that is it. The Lord of heaven and earth, the Creator of all; and the One who inspired, breathed out the words we call the Bible, the Word of God, said, “everlasting punishment”, and that is what He means. Then, there are some who would try to tell us that God is too merciful to cast unbelievers into torment forever, that surely they only are tormented for a short time and then they are annihilated. God cannot destroy that which He created to be eternal. You and I are eternal beings. Eternal, from the foundation of the earth in the mind of God; eternal from conception in spirit and soul; without Christ bodily raised, cast into eternal torment; with Christ bodily raised and enjoying his presence and glory forever.

“Life eternal” is given to the righteous. We do not often think of this much, but all people are going to be raised bodily from their graves; the good and the evil. The good, which are those who have faith in Jesus Christ will go into His glory. The evil will be cast into eternal judgment with their eternal body. There is a verse in the Revelation which tells us this, “I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.” Revelation 20:12-13 (KJV). It could be said that eternal death is given to the unrighteous. Death does not mean annihilation, but separation. Eternal life given to those whose faith is in Jesus Christ will be a life of glory. We do not even fully understand what “Glory” is all about, but when we see Jesus face to face for the first time in His glory we will get a better understanding, and that will be glory.

-Tim A. Blankenship


3 thoughts on “The Judgment of Nations

  1. Pingback: Sermon Bites 09/07/08 « Carr Lane Baptist Church

  2. Great sermon! I appreciate your emphasis on the physical return of Christ, not spiritualizing it. While this is speaking of the Second Coming, I am, more than ever, looking forward to the rapture. Thanks for presenting a balanced, dispensational view of Bible prophecy.


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