EXODUS 15 & REVELATION 1:20 (2 witnesses are already here)

esus separating people at the Last Judgement, by Fra Angelico, 1432-1435.

The Sheep and the Goats or “the Judgment of the Nations” is a pronouncement of Jesus recorded in chapter 25 of Matthew’s Gospel in the New Testament. It is sometimes characterised as a parable, although unlike most parables it does not purport to relate a story of events happening to other characters. According to Anglican theologian Charles Ellicott, “we commonly speak of the concluding portion of this chapter as the parable of the Sheep and the Goats, but it is obvious from its very beginning that it passes beyond the region of parable into that of divine realities, and that the sheep and goats form only a subordinate and parenthetic illustration”.[1] This portion concludes the section of Matthew’s Gospel known as the Olivet Discourse and immediately precedes Matthew’s account of Jesus’ passion and resurrection.[2]

This story and the parable of the ten virgins and the parable of the talents in the same chapter “have a common aim, as impressing on the disciples the necessity at once of watchfulness and of activity in good, but each has … a very distinct scope of its own”.[3]

Jesus asserts that he, 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”. The form of the announcement is in part based … upon the vision of Daniel 7:13:[4]

Behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom.

Text of the passageEdit

The text of the passage appears in Matthew’s Gospel, and is the final portion of a section containing a series of parables. From Matthew 25:31–46:

“But 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. Before him all the nations will be gathered, and he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will tell those on his right hand, ‘Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat. 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.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you; or thirsty, and give you a drink? When did we see you as a stranger, and take you in; or naked, and clothe you? When did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?’

“The King will answer them, ‘Most certainly I tell you, because you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Then he will say also to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you didn’t give me food to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and you didn’t take me in; naked, and you didn’t clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’

“Then they will also answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and didn’t help you?’

“Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Most certainly I tell you, because you didn’t do it to one of the least of these, you didn’t do it to me.’ These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

InterpretationEdit

The common futurist explanation of the discourse is that it tells of the Last Judgment, and the division of all the world’s people into the blessed, on the Right Hand of God, who are welcomed by the Father to inherit the Kingdom and eternal life, and the cursed, who are cast into the eternal fire along with the devil and his angels. The division seems to be based on the acts of kindness and mercy done by people to their disadvantaged fellow people; Jesus identifies such kindness with kindness towards himself.

An alternative interpretation, put forward by Calvinist theologian John Gill, is that the disadvantaged spoken of are actually fellow Christians. Instead of the division between blessed and cursed being based on good works, it is based on one’s response to the people and message of Christ’s Church. Associate professor of Biblical Languages at Union Presbyterian Seminary, E. Carson Brisson, says, “Let it be noted that this list of afflicted and needy individuals is, at first glance, a list of the very ones who appear to be bereft of God’s favor. These are ‘the least.’ These are truly ‘other.’”[5]

From Matthew 25:31–46: “But 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. Before him all the nations will be gathered, and he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.


Verse 6-8, Thy right hand, O LORD, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O LORD, hath dashed in pieces the enemy.

I.   There are many passages that speak of the right hand of God revealing His majesty and power.

A.     Some examples:

1.       Ps. 16:11 – “Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”

2.       Ps. 18:35 – “Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great.”

3.       Rev. 1:16, & 1:20 – The churches of the Lord Jesus Christ are held in His right hand. 

a.       Rev. 1:16 – “And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.”

b.       Rev. 1:20 – “The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.”

4.       Matt. 25:31-46 – At the judgment of the nations, the sheep are on Christs’ right hand and the goats are on his left.

5.       Acts 7:55,56 – When Stephen was being stoned, he saw Jesus standing on the right hand of God.  “But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 56   And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.”

6.      Without going into further examples, the right hand of God is a place of great favor, strength, and comfort.  (Look up the phrase “right hand” on the computer program, On-Line Bible.)

B.     On the other hand, the use of the left hand of God metaphorically speaks of the condemning power of God.

1.       See Matthew 25:31-46 – At the judgment of the nations, the sheep are on Christs’ right hand and the goats are on his left.

2.       Mark 10:35-40 – James and John asked to sit on the right hand and the left hand of Christ.  This was definitely a sign of authority and rulership with Christ.

3.       Look up the phrase “left hand” on the computer program, On-Line Bible, for more examples of the left hand of God.

 

Verse 7-10, And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee: thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble. And with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together, the floods stood upright as an heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea. 9, The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them. 10, Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty waters.

I.   Here is a comparison between what God can do and what man thinks he can do.

A.     Man decides they will destroy their enemies.  Note the various things man says he will do.  Egypt didn’t fulfill what they said.

1.       I will pursue.

2.       I will overtake.

3.       I will divide the spoil.

4.       I will satisfy my lust (anger and vengence).

5.       I will draw my sword.

6.       I will destroy them.

B.     Notice what God did.

1.       God overthrew those that arose against him.

2.       God’s wrath consumed them as stubble is consumed.

3.       God didn’t attack them personally, but used his power to control waters in an unexpected way, thus they were drowned in the sea.

4.       God used that which is necessary to life to bring death and destruction.

 

Verse 11-12, Who [is] like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who [is] like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful [in] praises, doing wonders? 12 Thou stretchedst out thy right hand, the earth swallowed them.

I.   “Among the gods” – there is a just and final comparison of the gods of stately Egypt compared to Jehovah.

A.     Ps. 86:8 – Among the gods there is none like thee.  “Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works.”

B.     Deut. 32:16,17 – When Israel attempted to serve other gods, they discovered (through chastening) that Jehovah is the only God.  “They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger. 17 They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not.”

 

Verse 13, Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation.

I.   Moses speaks as if Israel were already in the promised land.

 

II.   Notice that the recognized leadership of God comes after redemption.

A.     There is an unrecognized leadership of God.

1.       This is the wooing of the Holy Spirit in the heart and life of the unbeliever.

2.       If the Holy Spirit didn’t work in the heart of the unbeliever, they would never be saved.

3.       If the lost person comes to the knowledge that God is actually drawing him to Himself, nothing is changed except the knowledge of the lost person.

B.     Recognizing the leadership of the Holy Spirit is very important in the life of the believer.

1.       If His leadership is not recognized, the believer will always have doubts about the will of God.

2.       The believer won’t have proper leadership for his life if he never realizes Holy Spirit leadership. [1]

 

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