A study by Gavin Finley MD
SCRIPTURE PASSAGE, MATTHEW 25:31-4631. "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.
32. 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.
33. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.
34. 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:
35. 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;
36. I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.'
37. Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?
38. When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?
39. Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?'
40. 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.'
41. 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:
42. for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink;
43. 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.'
44. 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?'
45. 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.'
46. And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
THE SHEEP AND THE GOATS ARE UNSAVED GENTILES. THEY ARE LEFT ON EARTH AT THE END OF THE AGE. THEY HAVE NOT BEEN PLUCKED UP IN THE END-TIME HARVEST OF THE WICKED. NOR HAVE THEY BEEN GLORIFIED WITH THE REDEEMED IN THE RESURRECTION-RAPTURE. AND SO THEY AWAIT SORTING OUT; . . . BY THE RETURNING MESSIAH.The Sheep-Goat Judgment is a teaching given to us by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse. It is a very important prophecy. Jesus is telling us what will happen to the gentiles or those who are still unsaved and remain in their mortal bodies alive on this earth at the end of this age. When Jesus returns we know that according to the parable of the wheat and the tares those who are judged to be blatantly wicked will be plucked up and carried off by the harvest angels of wrath. Jesus clearly and concisely tells us that the harvest of the tares comes first. See Matthew 13:30. The Elect are then glorified in the Resurrection-Rapture.
So who is left? Who are the people that will enter the Millennium of Messiah as mortals and will feed in green pastures under Messiah under a regime where no-one will make them afraid or stress them into the dysfunctional states we see in humanity today? During this time period of one thousand years the world system will be a wonderful peaceful ministry and rule under Messiah. In addition to that the devil will be chained in the Abyss, the bottomless pit. There will be many who remain on earth who are not the glorified Elect and also they are not wicked people. Clearly these unsaved gentiles must be sorted out for Millennial entry. And this is precisely what the sheep-Goat Judgment is all about.
The scenario laid out by Jesus in His explanation of the Sheep-Goat Judgment is very straightforward. People are either given blessing and allowed entry into the Millennium as a sheep. Or they are cut off and damned as a goat. This judgment will occur after the Battle of Armageddon at the end of the age and after the glorification of the saints. Untold hundreds of millions will be left alive on earth in their mortal bodies. And these people will be judged for entry into the Millennium of Messiah.
The Sheep-Goat Judgment is an awesome and sobering future reality. God's Elect and covenant people glorified out of this present age are not in the picture here. They will have been Resurrected or Raptured and are now in new spiritual bodies. But the people not judged, damned, and carried off to the fires are still alive and in their mortal bodies at the close of this age. Clearly they are in another category entirely. These mortals will face Messiah's earthly judgment. He will judge the heathen, (the nations or the gentiles), as a shepherd would separate the sheep from the goats.
So the sheep and the goats are unsaved gentiles. These are men, women, and children who have not yet come into the covenants of Israel. (Eph.2:12-13) They are not yet saved. These people have not made any personal commitment to Christ as Savior and Lord. They have not come into a direct covenant relationship with Messiah. They do not know Him. And He does not KNOW them. If they had known Him and He had KNOWN Him they would have been glorified at the return of Messiah at the Resurrection-Rapture.
So what happens in the Sheep-Goat Judgment? Some people are judged as goats. These may not be blatantly wicked people. But they are people who always did their own thing. The goats are separated out and cast away. But the sheep are led on into green pastures. And so they enter into the glorious Millennium of Messiah.
THE SHEEP-GOAT JUDGMENT IS NOT A JUDGMENT FOR ENTRY INTO HEAVEN OR INTO ETERNITY. NOR IS IT ANY SUPPOSED "BEMA JUDGMENT" OF CHRISTIANS FOR HEAVENLY REWARDS. RATHER IT IS A TEMPORAL MESSIANIC JUDGMENT OF PEOPLE WHO STILL HAVE MORTAL LIFE AT THE END OF THIS AGE. THESE ARE UNREDEEMED PEOPLE, SOME OF WHOM WILL BE BLESSED AND GIVEN MILLENNIAL ENTRY AND A WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY TO BE SAVED. THESE PEOPLE OF THE NATIONS WILL BE JUDGED, NOT FOR HEAVEN, BUT FOR A MILLENNIAL PASSPORT. THE SHEEP-GOAT JUDGMENT WILL BE JUDGMENT OF MORTALS AND HELD HERE ON EARTH.As we look at the scriptures in Matthew 25 concerning the Sheep-Goat Judgment we soon discover that this is not a judgment of disembodied souls before the throne of God. Nor is it the Judgment Seat of Christ, (commonly referred to as the Pearly Gates), up in the heavenly places. These people are still in their mortal bodies at the end of the age.
The first matter to establish is this. These people coming to judgment by the returning Messiah are not saved. They are not in direct first order New Covenant relationship with Messiah. And now, still in their mortal bodies, and having survived the Great Tribulation, they stand before Messiah right down here upon this earth. They stand at the threshold of the idyllic Millennial Age to Come. Will they get a passport to go in? Or not? That, dear saints, is the question.
The Elect, of course, will be glorified at the end of this age. The saints of this age are not in view here. They are not subject to this sheep-goat judgment. The saints, the living and the dead in Christ/Messiah will be raised up after the Great Tribulation. Those who are "in Christ", both the quick and the dead, both the Resurrected and the Raptured will glorified at the end of this age. They will be raised up/raptured/harpazoed into new spiritual bodies. This blessed company will be with Christ having met Him in the air. They will not be subject to the sheep-goat Judgment.
Now we have scriptural evidence that the saints will in fact be there as witnesses. The Sheep-Goat Judgment is a court case conducted by Messiah when He comes into this cosmos. The glorified saints in their new spiritual bodies will be there as witnesses on behalf of those being judged. (More on this later.) But they themselves will not be subjected to this judgment. This will be a judgment of unsaved, and in many cases the "yet to be saved", heathen gentiles. Oh yes, our God is far more merciful than we know. Yes, there is no second chance for those who die without Christ. But for those who are living at the end of this age? Now that is the issue we shall address in this article.
How about the abominably wicked? Are they in view here? The short answer is, no. The wicked tares will have been plucked up off the planet as the first order of business as Messiah returns. The the end-time harvest of the tares and the wheat is described by Jesus in Matthew 13 and He states quite unequivocally that the wicked will be plucked off first. See Mat. The wicked will be plucked up and carried off, kicking and screaming, by their angels, the angels of wrath. They will have been carried off in that terrible apocalyptic harvest. The grim reapers will have plucked these evildoers off the planet. The disciples asked Jesus, "Where, Lord?". His answer? To the place of the eagles/vultures. This hideous harvest of the wicked will carried out at the end of the age during the Day of the Lord. The grim reapers will be the destroying angels, hideous angels of wrath.
We see this awful plucking up of the wicked described in Holy Scripture. Jesus laid it out very clearly for us in the parable of the wheat and the tares. The tares, (that is, the wicked), are gathered up first. This is what Jesus Himself plainly states. His words are recorded in the Bible. (See Mat.13:30)
Then comes the harvest of the righteous, the Resurrection-Rapture.
And those who are "in Christ" are gathered up to meet the Lord in the air. (See 1Thes. 4:15-18)
So the Sheep-Goat Judgment concerns the people who are left in the nations after the 70th Week of Daniel comes to its end. These people who are left are the heathen gentiles, or the unredeemed, if you will. This judgment will take place here on earth. This is not a judgment of the dead. It is a judgment of the living, the survivors of the Great Tribulation. It is a judgment by Messiah of living mortals. They still have their lives before them, if the Messiah accepts them. He is entitled to accept or reject them. And so they await His judgment. He alone can decide whether or not they deserve entry into the coming glorious Millennium of Messiah. And so we have the separation of the sheep from the goats. It comes with the return of Christ at the end of the age. And it involves certain witnesses, as we shall see. And this is where this subject becomes extremely interesting.
Here in the Sheep-Goat Judgment we see individuals who are still outside the covenants of the God of Israel. These are unsaved gentiles who have not yet come into the Eternal Covenant with Christ/Messiah. For any number of reasons these people have not yet been saved. They have not yet found redemption under the covering blood of Christ, the promised Sacrifice Lamb. These people are survivors of the Great Tribulation. It will be a huge company that may include perhaps a billion children. They have come through earth's climactic history in the 70th Week of Daniel, and now they stand before the Son of Man.
Quite obviously some of the unredeemed heathen, even if they are not among the overtly wicked whom the angels of God's wrath destroys as tares at His coming, are nevertheless self-willed rambunctious people who care little about spiritual things. As the court cases unfold we shall see in this article just how it is that they are judged and condemned as the goats. In this Sheep-Goat Judgment they will be cut off from the land of the living. They will be sent away to damnation, along with the blatantly wicked.
Other mortal beings at the end of this age are more fortunate. They find favor with Messiah. These are judged as the sheep. Thus they are given entry into Messiah's Millennial Kingdom.
MESSIAH'S JUDGMENT OF THE NATIONS.The Sheep-Goat Judgment occurs upon earth shortly after the Second Coming of Christ. It is not a judgment based upon "works" as we have been told. It is a blood covenant matter first and foremost. As we shall see further along in this article, the Biblical study of the two turtledoves sheds some further light on the legal blood covenant issues that form the basis for this epic judgment. Because the Sheep-Goat Judgment is very much a blood covenant issue. The key issue being probed by the returning Messiah in this epic court case involving billions of people is the elucidation of evidence of total commitment in loving-kindness extended to those who belong to Messiah, even if this kindness is extended by a person who is yet unredeemed. The judgment is not on the basis of someone knowing and directly covenanting with Messiah. But nevertheless, a blood covenant connection is being looked for in this Sheep-Goat Judgment. So the connection to Messiah, while indirect, is nevertheless vital as far as Messiah is concerned. As we shall see, a favorable judgment is based upon a second order blood covenant. The connection to Messiah is enacted through, (and witnessed by), a third party, a third party who brings a favorable witness of the unredeemed person showing them lovingkindness.
IT IS NOT BASED MERELY ON GOOD WORKS OR ON PERSONAL VIRTUE.
IT IS A BLOOD COVENANT MATTER.
We as Western Christians, are under the black horse rider with the scales of the merchants, the bankers, and the lawywers. We understand contract law and how it can be made and broken. That is how we do business. But we do not understand blood covenant. Nor do we understand what the Bible refers to as "lovingkindness which is total absolute commitment unto death. This is too "heavy" for the "Christianity lite" we are subjected to in the mega-churches.
Here is another very important point. The Sheep-Goat Judgment is not based upon "good works" as many evangelicals erroneously assert. No man comes to God except by a blood covenant connection to the Savior. Blood covenant loving-kindness, even a commitment of a friend to a friend unto death, may express itself in good works. But the covenant connection we see spotlighted in the Sheep-Goat Judgment is the elucidation of evidence demonstrating a deep person lovingkindness or personal commitment of someone who happens to be in tribulation or in need at some point and is a friend of Messiah.
We can look at the end-time scenario and easily imagine the recurring scene. A friend of Messiah is going through some hard times in the Great Tribulation. Some people show mercy to this friend of Messiah. And some people do not. Now Messiah has returned to earth to establish His Kingdom. These matters of who did what to whom during the Great tribulation are being looked into, and quite understandably so. This is the judgment now faced by those who have shown themselves to be the sheep and those who have shown themselves to be the goats. Messiah has come back, just as He said He would. And now, it is payback time. See this YouTube video by Charlie Daniels.
The Sheep-Goat Judgment as we see it outlined in Mat.25:31-46 is surely a judgment on a blood covenant level of commitment. It is important to understand that the only way a person can come to God and find eternal salvation is through a personal blood covenant relationship with Him. And as we are beginning to see, a first order person-to-person covenant is not the only blood covenant relationship that Messiah recognizes. In this case the relationship is indirect. The blood covenant relationship is enacted through a third party. But it is a blood covenant relationship nevertheless. A second order blood covenant forms the basis for the returning Messiah's judgment of the people. These are people who have not been taken in the harvest. They are mortals left alive on earth at the end of the age. These unsaved people who have not been judged as wicked have not yet been judged by Messiah. Should all of them enter into the Millennium? Or will none of them enter into Messiah's Kingdom as our Evangelical teachers are saying? These are questions that need to be answered from Holy Scripture.
As we see it, the Sheep-Goat Judgment appears to be based on matters of heart attitude and character. These heart issues may in turn evidence themselves in works to be sure. But the heart issue revolves around blood covenant commitment to someone in trouble who happens to belong to Messiah. This is the lovingkindness Messiah is looking for and finds in the sheep. The Sheep-Goat Judgment is not a judgment of works as we have been told.
Some may suggest that the Judgment of Messiah upon the unsaved at His coming is just an objective measurement of personal virtue or maybe "core values". This is not true. The examination of souls we see Messiah prosecute at the Sheep-Goat judgment is not based on how good a person may have tried to be. We know from scripture that no man can please God on the basis of his good works alone. (See Eph.2:8-9). We are saved by grace through faith in the atoning blood of Israel's promised Sacrifice Lamb, our Lord Jesus Christ. A person's faith is the real issue and this in turn will determine what a person does. Faith is what determines a person's actions, and drives his behavior. And a person's blood covenant commitment comes out of that faith. And so faith determines what a person ends up doing and a walk of faith leads a person into his ultimate destiny. This vital blood covenant relationship is the real issue. In the Sheep-Goat Judgment Messiah makes His assessment, he ponders the human hearts.
A close look at the scripture in Matthew 25 shows us quite clearly that a human person to human person blood covenant loving-kindness is the central issue. One of those persons has been saved. He or she belongs to Messiah through a direct person-to-person blood covenant. This three way second-order blood covenant is what is being assessed in the Sheep-Goat Judgment. As we look at it we see that at its heart this is a personal relationship matter. It is also a life and death matter being worked out between two human beings who are friends, two doves in the wilderness, one of who goes away and is lost to the other. Hence the mourning dove. See the article on the two turtledoves. One of them knows the Messiah. The other one does not. But is the outsider cut off? No, he is not. He is given special favor! And why? Is it because he has tried to be virtuous by doing virtuous things? Is it because he has done some "good works"? No, not at all. The unsaved mortal is given special favor because he has shown blood covenant lovingkindness to a friend. He has shown himself to be a true friend to someone in tribulation and in trouble. But this person he has fed or clothed or shown some kindness to is no ordinary friend. The friend he has helped happens to know the returning Messiah!
A PROVISIONAL OR TEMPORAL BLOOD COVENANT RELATIONSHIP IS ENACTED THROUGH A THIRD PARTY. THIS IS THE SECOND ORDER BLOOD COVENANT WE SEE SPOTLIGHTED IN THE SHEEP-GOAT JUDGMENT. THE ULTIMATE ETERNAL SOUL SALVATION IS NOT IN VIEW HERE. BUT THE LOVINGKINDNESS HE HAS SHOWN TO A FRIEND OF MESSIAH IS ENOUGH FOR A FAVORED MORTAL TO GAIN ENTRY INTO MESSIAH'S KINGDOM.We also see that the Sheep-Goat Judgment is not two-way first order blood covenant. The judgment involves a triangle. Three parties are involved here. This is one thing that sets this judgment apart from the Eternal Covenant we see showcased first and foremost in scripture. This covenant assessment we see outlined for us in the Sheep-Goat Judgment is not made under the basis of a direct covenant with Messiah. These people are unredeemed heathen gentiles. So clearly there is no first order, person to person relationship with Messiah involved. The sheep and goats coming into judgment are outside the covenant of salvation. They do not have a saving knowledge and a relationship with the God of Israel. If they did they would not be left as mortals on earth and standing before Messiah as He establishes His Kingdom. They would have already been glorified. They would not be on earth as mortals and subject to Messiah's judgment.
So this Sheep-Goat Judgment is an indirect second order blood covenant relationship. It is based upon a record of blood covenant loving-kindness that had been ministered to a person inside the covenant by a third party, someone who is outside the eternal covenant. Now the returning Messiah is returning the favor. The covenant of the unredeemed person with Messiah is confirmed in the Sheep-Goat Judgment. And it comes through the sponsoring witness of a third party, someone who does know Messiah.
Here is the situation in a nutshell. A saved friend of Messiah has been helped in a time of trial by an unsaved person. Now Messiah has returned and takes stock of things. The Sheep-Goat Judgment will be a mega court-case adjudicated here on earth. The friends of Messiah, saved, redeemed and now glorified in a new spiritual body, are summoned as witnesses. They have many wonderful stories to tell. The glorified saint has a favorable report to make concerning a person on earth, a person they have known personally. This person is yet to be saved. But there he is alive on earth. He will stand or fall at the return of Messiah. Messiah holds court and takes note of evidence being given. The key evidence being brought forth is an account of blood covenant lovingkindness that was extended to His saints during their trials on earth during the latter days. Messiah loves His Elect people very dearly and He knows how they suffered in their trials and tribulations. He makes His judgment between the sheep that cared and the goats that didn't care. That is blood covenant matter that will be at issue when the Ancient of Days sits and judgment is given.
THE SHEEP-GOAT JUDGMENT IS NOT A JUDGMENT OF THE ELECT OF THIS AGE.It is important to understand that the Sheep-Goat Judgment is showcased here on earth. This is not the Final Judgment of immortal souls before the throne of God. Nor is this the Judgment Seat of Christ or an entry of departed souls into the pearly gates of heaven. The entry of souls into the heavenly realms is not in view here. The people in question here are those remaining on the earth in their mortal bodies at the end of this age. The saints, both the living and the dead, will have been raised up or rapturedbefore this judgment of mortals on earth. The saints will be there to be sure. But they will not be here in their mortal bodies. They will have already been glorified at the Resurrection-Rapture.
THE SAINTS OF THIS AGE WILL BE GLORIFIED AT THE END OF THIS AGE.
BUT EVEN AS THIS AGE ENDS GOD IS NOT FINISHED WITH THE HUMAN RACE.
MILLENNIALISTS ARE QUITE WRONG IN DENYING THE COMING MILLENNIUM.
CHRIST CONTINUES HIS DEALINGS WITH MEN IN THE THOUSAND YEARS TO COME.
And where will the glorified saints be as they come into their new situation? They will be in new spiritual bodies not unlike the sort of body Jesus was seen with after His resurrection. Remember the road to Emmaus? Remember Jesus walking through walls and ministering to His disciples and friends? Remember Thomas thinking that the glorified body of Jesus was not a solid spiritual body but just a ghost?
The Apostle John said that they will minister with Christ for a thousand years.
This is the time period of the Millennium of Messiah. (See Rev.20:4,5,&6)
Will the glorified saints minister to mortals living upon the earth in the millennium? Will they be ministering to people who had been judged as sheep, visiting with old friends once again? And might some of the glorified saints actually end up ministering to the very people who helped them during those awesome trials and tribulation of the 70th Week of Daniel the final seven years of this age? These are interesting questions for us to ponder. Our God, the Holy One of Israel, is forever leading His people into magnificent ever expanding horizons.
THE SHEEP-GOAT JUDGMENT IS A CIVIC MATTER.Our scripture passage shows us that the Sheep-Goat Judgment is not the judgment of souls for entry into heaven. Rather, it is a judgment of living mortal individuals here on earth. They are being processed by Messiah before being permitted entry into the earthly Millennium of Messiah.
IT INVOLVES ADMISSION INTO MILLENNIAL CITIZENSHIP.
AS THE MILLENNIAL AGE OPENS MESSIAH JUDGES THOSE WHO ARE LEFT.
HE ISSUES PASSPORTS INTO HIS MILLENNIUM TO WHOMSOEVER HE WILLS.
HE DOES THIS BASED ON THE PRINCIPLE OF SECOND ORDER BLOOD COVENANT.
This is a covenant matter between God and unsaved mankind at the end of this age. The returning Messiah is back on earth judging the nations. After the awful history of humanistic mankind during the Apocalypse Messiah has every right to come in judgment of the nations. Because man-centered government during the final seven years of this age will have brought this planet to the very brink of destruction.
Now there is an important principle here. God has every right to judge the heathen, the nations. Our Messiah spilled His blood to redeem the people of this planet. He came to this earth to save mankind, - that is if they want to be saved. And we know that when Christ returns multitudes are mourning. These people truly desire to be saved. And they will be saved. "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted." This is what Jesus promised in the Beatitudes. Those judged as sheep will be given entry into the green pastures of His coming Millennial Kingdom. Others, the self-willed goat people, will not have shown any interest in Messiah or shown any kindness to His witnesses as they go up to trial before profane men in the latter days. Messiah brings His sovereign judgment here. And He is the One who spilled His blood for our salvation. So He has every right to judge and to decide who will be admitted into His Millennial Kingdom. He can accept or reject whomsoever He wills.
The scriptures are quite clear as to what happens.
The goats will be rejected and taken off.
The sheep will enter in.
The Sheep Are Led In Green Pastures
during the Millennium of Messiah
Painting by English artist Margaret Tarrant, 1888-1959.
Here in this judgment we see certain mortals being given permission to pass into the Messiah's earthly Kingdom. The Sheep-Goat Judgment involves the gentiles or the heathen. Some were judged as "goats" and destroyed with the wicked. The others, judged as sheep enter into the new Millennial Kingdom.
Christian / Messianic believers, those who had been in direct personal covenant with Christ/Messiah are not in view here. At the time of the Sheep-Goat Judgment they will no longer be the earthbound mortals they are now. They will have been glorified. They will no longer be limited in their excursions by time or space. Messiah will have many wonderful projects for them to be involved in in the dual offices of Melchizedek. It may be that they will be operating from the mansions or dwelling places He has prepared in that great new three dimensional reality, the New Jerusalem.
Here is another very important point that opens our understanding of the Sheep-Goat Judgment. The Holy Spirit tells us it will be a judgment of the nations or a judgment of the gentiles. Just who are the gentiles? Believers in covenant with Messiah are no longer "gentiles". Those in Christ are no longer fit the description as "gentiles". In scripture the term "gentile" means "heathen" and always refers to persons who are outside the Eternal Covenant. Someone who knows the Redeemer of Israel is not gentile. He is not a heathen outsider to the covenants of Israel. Our Savior Jesus Christ is the Holy One of Israel. He is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. When a person is saved or "born again" they become a new creation in Christ. And so as we read in Ephesians 2:11-13, those who are under the atoning blood of Christ are no longer outside the covenants of Israel. What has happened to them? They have been brought nigh, to the citizenship or Commonwealth of Israel.
When a person becomes a Christian his basic spiritual identity changes immediately and his soul, heart, mind, and will begins to change from the inside out by a process of sanctification. His new identity is in Christ. Christ can and does travel down racial and family lines but the family of Abraham is not limited to DNA as the Pharisees thought. Christ, the promised Seed of Abraham is a Holy Spirit flow above and beyond DNA. And as we read in Galatian 3:29 when a person is in Christ he becomes one with the Seed of Abraham. And why? Because Christ IS the promised Seed of Abraham. In Him we find our ultimate identity. Christ is the promised "Light to the Gentiles". He is the Savior sent into this World, the Servant of Israel in whom we as Christian / Messianic believers have our citizenship and identity as new creatures.
A believing Christian is in blood covenant relationship with Messiah. Our Messiah is King of Kings. Messiah has crown rights over His covenant people. Christ's claim upon a Christian believer is far and above DNA. His called out people have entered into an allegiance above or any claims their nation, their king or prince, or their land has upon them.
Here are the facts of history. The best citizens of this world are those whose lives are under the control of the Prince of Peace. A Christian's national earthly allegiance is superseded by his spiritual allegiance to Christ. This has been demonstrated in the history of the early church. Allegiance to Christ was challenged by Rome in the arenas. But nevertheless, Christian faith won out over allegiance to Caesar. And will win out over any other earthly national ruler for that matter. There is no stronger bond than the covenant a Christian believer enters into with Christ. Upon his conversion he enters into the citizenship or Commonwealth of Israel. - Eph.2:12
As we shall see, blood covenant is the key to the Sheep-Goat Judgment. There is, in fact, a blood covenant condition imposed for entry of mortals into Messiah's future Kingdom here on earth. His divine rule will be established here on terra firma for a literal thousand years. Certain unsaved people, (likened to sheep rather than goats), are granted entry into His Millennial Kingdom. They are permitted entry on the basis of a 'second order' covenant enacted through the good graces of a third party witness and guarantor. This is plainly and simply outlined by Jesus in His teaching on the Sheep-Goat Judgment. (Mat.25:31-46) A close look at the scripture in red below shows quite clearly that the returning Christ grants clemency and divine favor to someone who in a time of trial has truly proven himself to be a 'friend to Messiah's friend' when he was in trouble. This is "second order" blood covenant.
THE SHEEP-GOAT JUDGMENT AS IT RELATES TO THE
BIBLICAL SYMBOLISM OF THE TWO TURTLEDOVES.
Please excuse the repetition in this article. But this subject is strange to evangelicals and difficult for many of us to grasp. But second order covenant is commonplace in any blood covenant company of people and demonstrated in many ways. Families, armies, gangs, all operate on a network of trust and total commitment, one on one. But that network of total commitment and loving-kindness occasionally extends outside the circle. And the fact is, whenever blood covenant friendship is demonstrated it is given witness to by someone in the group and recognized by the leader of the group. True friends show before witnesses that they are willing to give their lives for each other. That is the gist of blood covenant. Blood covenant loving-kindness is a demonstration of total commitment. And whenever it is seen, in love or war, whether it be Romeo and Juliet or the common soldier fighting alongside his comrades the drama sets up and establishes a new reality. And after the smoke clears and the dust settles that new friend is suddenly recognized.
"Two Turtledoves in lieu of a Lamb".
Click on the image above to go to the article.
So here is the main story behind this strange story of unexpected favor that is extended to the unsaved sheep people at the Sheep-Goat Judgment. There are occasions when blood covenant favor is extended to someone who is not a member of the fellowship. Sometimes special grace and favor is granted to someone who is an outsider. This new favored status involves covenant. It does not come easily and be terminated easily as we see demonstrated with the merchant contracts of mammon. The special favor is based on a record of faithfulness under trial. Because of an unexpected act of loving-kindness a "good word" is put in by the insider on behalf of the outsider.
What happened to bring up this matter of entry of an outsider into the group? Typically the story goes as follows. There have been trials and tribulations. And during this time of testing someone who is inside the group or covenant has been helped by someone who is an outsider. Through this act of lovingkindness the outsider has exposed himself to deadly peril. The person inside the group has come to know the person in question and to appreciate what they did for them. They have come to love them in a deep and personal sort of a way. The person outside the covenant has shown themselves to be a true friend of the person who is inside the covenant. They bring their witnes to the group leader on behalf of the outsider. And that suffices for the outsider to gain admission into the circle.
This covenant connection through a third party is something we might call "second order blood covenant". It is not at all unusual. Chinese Christians operate in it in the underground church. They do it all the time. But we as Christians in the West are pampered and at ease so we know little of these things. It is sad that a Christian writer has to resort to the Mafia to explain spiritual things to Christian believers. But here goes. Even the Mafia operates in second order covenant. Here is a classic quote."Any friend of Vinnie's is a friend of mine!"
THE TWO TURTLEDOVES IN THE DRAMA OF THE END TIME.We must face the facts of scripture and reality here. When this age comes to an end many of the unsaved heathen, (or gentiles), will have not been given had a fair chance to hear the Good News preached. The Great Tribulation period will be a time of end-time revival for Christians who have previously been lukewarm in their devotion. But it will not be a particularly peaceful time to conduct Gospel outreach among those who have not yet heard the Good News. There will not be many evangelical meetings held during the second half of the final seven years of this age. But here in this passage of scripture on the Sheep-Goat Judgment we can plainly see that many will have come into some sort of ad-hoc blood covenant connection, not with Messiah himself but with the people of Messiah. They will be coming into covenant with Messiah in a roundabout way to be sure. But for most of them it will prove to be a crucial first step in their pilgrimage into the knowledge and love of Messiah and into the Eternal Covenant. But in this first step they will be coming into covenant with Messiah indirectly through third parties, through certain covenant friends of Messiah. This seems strange. How will this happen?
AND THE REVELATION / UNVEILING OF HIDDEN MYSTERIES.
As the 70th Week of Daniel opens the situation for Christian believers will become increasingly difficult. Christians and non-Christians will enter the tumultuous 7 years of the 70th Week of Daniel, first under the harlot system and then under the direct rule of a false messiah. Jesus warned us about this very specifically in John 5:43. During that time, and especially during the final 3.5 years perilous times will come for God's covenant people. Many non-believers will give special aid and assistance to Christian believers who are in trouble, even at their own peril. During the Great Tribulation they will care for these persecuted tribulation saints. They will feed them, cloth them, shelter them, and visit them in prison. They treat them as true blood covenant friends. Then the two friends will be separated. The partner who knows Messiah may become a martyr of the faith as part of the man-child company. Some as the woman of Revelation 12 will be sent off into exile.
The two came to know ach other in a deep and meaningful way. But then as holy history unfolds they will be separated. The two friends, even as two turtledoves will then be alone in the wilderness. They will be out of contact with each other, but not forgotten. The storms of life have swept the two friends apart. And the outsider is the lonesome dove mourning out there, inconsolable, and in a howling wilderness.
Of course they still remember the those they left behind. And while they may be oceans apart their thoughts return to the former times, to the friends they once knew, and the things they learned when they were together. Now, they are alienated from each other, like two turtledoves cooing in the wilderness.
But nevertheless, in spite of the separation, they are still a pair. And as it turns out, they are treated as a pair by Messiah. Here at the Sheep-Goat Judgment one of them, the one who does not know Messiah, is on trial. Once again, Messiah'scourt is in session, and he is calling for witnesses. Again, the witness is given by the friend of Messiah. He brings his testimony on behalf of his friend, the one who is not in blood covenant relationship with Messiah. In this picture we can clearly see that the unsaved one is receiving special Messianic favor. At the Sheep-Goat Judgment a positive affirmation and a confirming witness has been made for the one who is outside the covenant, even as the blood of the 2 turtledoves is sprinkled against the altar. Inside the lovingkindness that has been shown the two friends are accepted by the returning Messiah as a pair.
This is truly marvelous. The Sheep-Goat Judgment when we study it out is just one more demonstration of the wonderful grace of Jesus. A person outside the covenant shows blood covenant loving-kindness to someone inside the covenant, Messiah's friend. That person is not yet in direct first order covenant with Messiah. But he is not forgotten by Messiah. He comes into Millennial citizenship paired up with, (or sponsored by), his buddy or his mate. His friend has connections. He is someone who is in direct covenant with Messiah. The non-covenanted person has come into the privilege of Messiah's covenant of grace for earthly citizenship in the Messianic Kingdom. It comes in a roundabout way by a blood covenant third party connection.
There is a lot of drama wrapped up in this story. The unsaved party, the one who is not yet in the covenant with Messiah, has cared for his Christian friend in a relationship of devotion and blood covenant loving-kindness. He looked after his Christian friend. He cared for him when he was in a wilderness experience of tribulation and need. He risked his life for him. There they were like birds in the wilderness. The one who was not in the covenant with Messiah cared for the one who was. He showed blood covenant loving-kindness. So Messiah receives and accepts both of them as a pair. And so ends the drama and the romance of the two turtledoves. It sheds some light on the Sheep-Goat Judgment. It is an important and tremendously inspiring part of the end-time drama. Unfortunately for most Christians at this point in history this is still an untold story.
The Sheep-Goat judgment presupposes a blood covenant relationship. It is a relationship of great depth and meaning. And Messiah, when He returns, quite clearly takes note of this lovingkindness. The one who is in covenant with Messiah, we must assume, had been in a spot of bother. He had, in fact, been in great need and suffered much under deadly persecution. He had been a witness to Messiah in a hostile world. During the 666 economic system the basic necessities of life had been in short supply. The servant of Messiah had lacked the basic things of life such as food, clothing, and shelter. Getting help to an outlaw and befriending them has always been a risky business. This will be increasingly so during the heightened electronic surveillance of the latter days. Lives are at stake and there is deadly peril for both of the two friends. Therein lies the blood covenant connection.
The drama moves on to its next phase. In the course of events the two covenant partners are separated. The non-Christian is bereaved. As the dramatic events of the Great Tribulation unfold his Christian friend is taken away. He is either martyred or exiled or he flies away as a refugee to another place. But during their time together his friend had come to know and love him. And so when his friend is taken away he experiences a terrible sense of personal loss. A lonesome dove is in the wilderness, cooing for his lost mate.
Now we can put some more pieces together. In the Beatitudes Jesus has said, "blessed are they that mourn". And "blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness. And so we come to the Sheep-Goat Judgment. And the outsider who is found mourning in the wilderness for his lost covenant partner will soon discover that all is not lost. In fact he has been truly blessed. As a direct result of his acts of kindness to his friend he in turn is about to be shown blood covenant loving-kindness under the new Messianic regime. Because the a powerful Friend of his lost friend has just shown up on the scene. And He is no ordinary friend. He just happens to be the returning Messiah!
Of course that is not all. There is even more good news. To cap things off, his mate, the one who had been lost, is not dead and gone forever after all. He is alive and well. And he has been found! What a glorious reunion this will be! And multiplied hundreds of millions of times over.
In this case we see that grace and peace with God came into the life of the non-believing person on the basis of a second order blood covenant relationship. For the lonesome dove who has shown kindness and devotion to his friend in the wilderness things have suddenly taken a turn for the better. His mourning turns into joy. His friend is now able to visit him on earth. And he finds himself ushered into the glorious 1000 year earthly Millennial Kingdom of Messiah!
THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST.In the Olivet Discourse Jesus had a private conversation with four of His trusted disciples. He told them what would happen at the end of this age. It would be after the tribulation that He will return to gather His elect. Here are the words of Jesus on the matter, for those to whom it is given to know of these things.
AND THE MANY UNSAVED WHO MOURN AT HIS COMING."Immediately after the tribulation of those days(Mat.24:29-30) Many will be mourning at the second coming of Christ. What about many of the unsaved people? What about those who mourn when the sign of the Son of Man is seen in the heavens and this age comes to a close? Many of the unsaved had connections with Christian believers. But they never actually entered into covenant with the Messiah. Now, He has returned. Many of them never had a proper opportunity to get to know Him. And now Messiah is here to judge. And all seems lost. It is too late. But is it?
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon shall not give its light;
the stars will fall from heaven
and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven,
and then all of the tribes of the earth will mourn,
and they will see the Son of Man
coming on the clouds of heaven
with power and great glory".
Lets look at the facts here. These people are still alive on this earth. They are not facing Christ at the pearly gates. The Sheep-Goat Judgment is a judgment of Christ to be sure. But this is not the judgment that people face before their ultimate entry into heaven or Hell. These people are still alive and they are still on earth. They are alive. They are in their mortal bodies are they not? And some of them are mourning over lost opportunities to have been saved. They were on their way to being saved. But in the tumult of the final seven years of the age it just didn't happen. But they did make some friends along the way. They showed friendship to those persecuted Christians before they were carried away into exile or wherever they went. Many of them had shown themselves to be true friends to Christians. And they had done so, ministering to them in their desperate need.
So here is the returning Messiah, on earth at the end of the age and about to set up His Millennial Kingdom. Multitudes of people are there before Him, many of them mourning. Yes, they are unsaved. But these are not all wicked people here. For evangelicals to characterize all the unsaved as wicked is just not right.
Who are we kidding here? We have not completed the Great Commission yet. Not by a long shot. And not as long as a mere 2.5 cents on the dollar from our church offerings goes outside our borders to overseas missions.
Here is another issue. There may be a billion children under the age of accountability left the end of this age. Is there still hope for them? Or are all these little ones destined to be damned forever? We need to answer this question carefully. Their angels are watching us and listening to what we say. And they have an audience with God Almighty Himself at His throne up in the third heaven.
Let us remember that we have a merciful God. He is just and righteous Ruler of the Universe. He is the Holy One of Israel and He watches over His people as a Good Shepherd cares for His sheep. Now some of the unsaved are wicked self-willed goat-like people. And yes, such people deserve judgment and removal from the face of Messiah. But many are not deserving of damnation. Many of these people have a wonderful opportunity of a a future life on earth before them do they not? And now, at the end of the age, we see them mourning and repenting. Will a God of mercy and grace cut them off, along with their little children because they are not yet saved?
Perhaps not. Messiah will apparently show favor to some.
If there happens to be a witness.
This is what the Sheep-Goat Judgment is all about.
Someone is vouching for this person in a very positive and decisive way.
Someone is bringing a "good word" concerning this person. And the returning King is hearing all about it.
So on the basis of this witness Messiah extends His hand of mercy. This is precisely what we see happening in the scripture record we see in Matthew 25:31-46).
BLESSED ARE THEY THAT MOURN.Our God is more gracious than we know. When we take a trip abroad we soon come to appreciate that there are multitudes of spiritually poor people who have not heard the Gospel. What about those who mourn at His coming? What about those people, particularly in foreign countries, who are "poor in spirit"? What about those who never had a chance to know about the Savior? They never got a chance to "cut the covenant" with Him personally. He is the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." (Rev.13:8) His blood was shed to bring men back into fellowship with God. But what about these people who mourn? And what about the children who never had a chance to know God? Are they all to be consigned to Hell?
BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT.
It is a sad fact that most people in the teeming millions of India and in the third world many have not heard the Gospel. Not even once. Many are still on their way to finding out. There is an emptiness inside of them that suffers the "angst" of separation from God. But has anyone shone the Light of God's Word into the place of their darkness? Can they hear the wooing voice of God if no one brings them the message of salvation? Who is reaching out to them and inviting them to accept God as their Savior and Friend? It is hard if they have not been presented with the Gospel. Have they had a messenger come to them and present this Good News? Alas, most of them have not.
Many people around the world are in the process of coming to God. Unfortunately many are under oppressive regimes or struggling to survive. Many do not get their basic needs met let alone get a chance to stop and consider the deeper realities of life. Half the children of this world go to bed hungry. Death and disease stalks the people between the latitudes 10 degrees north of the equator to 30 degrees south of the equator. Many poor people are stymied by a wicked political system.
There are three enemies of the Gospel. These are the world system, the flesh, and the Devil. During the coming Millennium two of these enemies will be eliminated. Satan will be bound for one thousand years. (Rev. 20:1-3) SO much for the Devil. And the kingdoms of this world will have become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ/Messiah. (Rev.11:15) So much for the world system. Both of these enemies currently help to prevent men from hearing the Gospel and coming into union with God. Only the third enemy, our own flesh nature, will stand in the way of the call of God to man in the coming Kingdom of Messiah.
This present evil age with its devil enshrouded spiritual darkness, along with its despotic regimes, its wars and famines have conspired to prevent or delay any evangelical awakening in the lives of most people on this planet. Many evangelicals are in a spiritual prison in Hindu and Muslim countries as well as under secular communist regimes. In spite of the claims of big ministries the vast masses of souls on this earth have not yet heard the Gospel. Due to our present inadequate Gospel and missionary outreach most have not yet come into a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Big ministries will try to give the impression that they have just about wrapped things up and are ready for Messiah to return. But the facts indicate otherwise. The Great Commission is far from complete. Even at the end of the coming Great Tribulation there will still be multitudes of such unsaved people who have not "taken the mark of the beast". Not all unsaved people will be initiated into the devotion of the Antichrist and entered into his 666 economic system.
We are not inclined to consider these things. In the western countries we are in a different situation. We hear the gospel message quite frequently. If we reject it or neglect it we shall clearly be without excuse. But many of these dear people in places abroad, especially children, have not heard the Gospel presented to them even once! Are we to lump all these in with those wicked ones who have taken the mark and who shake their fist at heaven and curse the returning Christ? If the scriptures say, "Blessed are they that mourn" are these people to be considered as just "too late" for any opportunity to go on with God into His coming Kingdom? If not them, then who will populate the Millennium?
ONE BILLION CHILDREN LEFT ALIVE AT THE END OF THIS TUMULTUOUS AGE.
AND THE RESPONSE OF JESUS TO THE LITTLE CHILDREN BROUGHT BEFORE HIM.
Let's take a look at Jesus and His attitude to the little ones who were brought to Him.
Painting by English artist Margaret Tarrant, (1888-1959)."Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them; and bless them but the disciples rebuked those who brought them.
10:14 But when Jesus saw it, He was greatly displeased and said to them,
'Let the little children come to Me,
and do not forbid them;
for of such is the kingdom of God.
10:15 Assuredly, I say to you,
whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.'
10:16 And He took them up in His arms,-Mark 10:13-16 NKJV
put His hands on them,
and blessed them."
TWO TURTLEDOVES:When the returning Messiah judges between the sheep and the goats He is judging the nations. This means He is judging Gentile/heathen people who have not come into the covenant and the Commonwealth (or citizenship) of Israel by grace through faith in Christ/Yeshua as Savior. (Eph.2:11-13) They don't know Him yet. Many of them have not had a chance to know Him.
AN ACCEPTABLE SUBSTITUTE SACRIFICE IN LIEU OF A LAMB:
A PICTURE OF SECOND ORDER COVENANT BETWEEN GOD AND MAN.
AN IMPORTANT KEY TO OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE SHEEP-GOAT JUDGEMENT.
THE ENTRY QUALIFICATIONS FOR THOSE COMING INTO THE MILLENNIUM OF MESSIAH.
Are all these yet unsaved people to be condemned? Are all of these people to be considered goats and sent off into outer darkness? Have every one of them, including the little children truly "had their chance"? Are they all worthy of death, the innocent along with the wicked?
If not, then might God be about to make a judgment here? Will He not give the sheep of His pasture a chance? These dear people have just been put through the Great Tribulation. Many will have been subjected to terrible deprivations and traumas. Wouldn't the Millennium of Messiah, a magnificent new age just beginning, provide a wonderful opportunity for a new beginning for them?
The coming Millennium of Messiah will be all about providing for those masses of mankind who are still lost. And yet there is great hope here. In their mourning there are huge multitudes of people who are truly ready to repent and come to know God. They will be given opportunity to rest in green pastures being fed the Word of God in the peaceful context of His coming Kingdom here on earth. He will bind up their wounds. He will comfort those who mourn. They will be given a wonderful new opportunity to come to know the Him. The sheep of His pasture will rest by the still waters. And there they will be fed the Word of Life.
Shepherds tell us that sheep will not drink from a raging river. They will only drink from still waters. At the end of this age there will be much political and military turmoil. Many will have longed to know God but never had the chance. They have not had the chance to rest by the still waters and drink from the waters of life.
Will they ever be given that opportunity? Will they be led by Messiah into green pastures? Will they be and spiritually fed by the still waters in the beauty of His restored earth? Or are these people who mourn at the sixth seal to be lumped in with the wicked? Are all those who mourn to be cursed rather than comforted and blessed? Are all who are not saved at the end of this age to be damned for ever?
What is our heart and our conscience saying? Do we know the heart of the Shepherd on this matter?
Fortunately we are not left to guess. No are we to use our own judgment or sentiment to rule in this matter. The Bible tells us what will happen. God will judge in righteousness in this matter. The goats will be cut off. They will be damned. But the sheep will stay on and find life.
Matthew 25:31-46 lays out for us the essential features of the sheep and goat judgment. It is a judgment of mortals here on earth at the end of the age. They are not saved. If they were then they would have been glorified. Now they appear here on earth before the royal authority of the coming Kingdom of God. The sheep-goat judgment is not a judgment of souls at the gates of heaven. It is
the Judgment Seat of Christ. (2Cor.5:10 And it is not the Great White Throne judgment seen at the end of the Millennium. (Rev.20:11-15) This is a judgment on the earth of living mortal human beings. This is very important difference.
Jesus even tells us how He will judge between the sheep and the goats. He tells us quite clearly in Matthew 25:31-46). The sheep are allowed entry into the Kingdom of Messiah based on how they treated His covenant people in their time of need.
In the onrush of events in the last days the open preaching of the Gospel by the saints will not be possible except for those who have been exiled in the Bozrah incarceration. The saints will be under the persecution throughout the entire 70th week. First it will come under the harlot system and then the 666 system of the Antichrist. John's vision of the woman of Revelation 12 suggests that large numbers of Christian believers may be sequestered away in a place where they can be nurtured in spiritual things. (Rev.12:6)
It seems that many people who have become inclined to respond to God never get the opportunity. But they did have an opportunity to show the Christians some kindness somewhere down the line. Then at the end of the age they see the coming Christ they will mourn. They will mourn over the opportunity they lost in the former era to have come to know the Savior. The sands of time have run out and now the last day of this present evil age has come and gone. As the heavens open up and the Day of the Lord begins they see the sign of the Son of Man. And on that Day many will mourn. They will mourn when they realize that Jesus/Yeshua was the Savior they really belonged to. And yet they had never really come to know Him.
The wicked will be carried off first as tares or weeds gathered for the fires. (Mat. 13:30 & Mat. 13:40,41,&42) The wicked will be destroyed on the awesome Day of His coming. (Isaiah 63) But what about these sorrowful people who are mourning? Will they receive words of comfort in that Day?
Perhaps they will. Because Jesus tells us quite clearly that at His coming some group of people, people He judges as sheep and not goats, will hear these words;
"Come, you blessed of my Father
You who are favored of God
and appointed to salvation
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you
From the foundation of the world."
"...........Inasmuch as you did it to the least of these my brethren,
You did it to me."
-Mat.25:40 AMP. (abbr.) The God of Israel is the God of love. He calls out His people at heart level. And He meets His people and communes with them at heart level. David even wrote a song about it. (Psalm 51)PSALM 51The poetry and the themes which run through scripture reveal a loving God. Even in the time of judgment He is continually wooing us at the level of our heart. Even in our tribulations as we are scattered into a howling wilderness our God is there beside us. He spreads a table before us in the presence of our enemies.
16 For You do not desire sacrifice,
or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart--
These, O God, You will not despise. (Psa.51:16-17)
Our journey with Him and into Him is a love walk. And He gives us a song in the night.PSALM 42
7. Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts:
all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.
8. Yet the LORD will command his loving-kindness in the daytime,
and in the night his song shall be with me,
and my prayer unto the God of my life. (Psa. 42:7-8)
Grace and peace to the saints.