12 Weeks of Prayer Week 5 Day 6
A Separation unto Salvation
By Pastor Mike Heil
Brothers and Sisters, if you will bear with me, I am going to involve myself in a little bit of “theological hair-splitting.” I know, I know, you weren’t expecting anything different from me. So, here it goes. The first principle or application of Biblical interpretation, right after Scripture will interpret Scripture, is context. Now what is context? Context is the setting of the Scripture: who is it written to, why was it written, was it applying to a specific timeframe, etc. Context tells us how we can make proper application of the scriptural passage. An easy example of context appears when we read 1 Corinthians 11:1-10, the portion of Scripture which talks about authority and the length of a woman’s hair. What that meant to the Corinthians in 55 A.D. would be vastly different from what it would mean to a modern woman living in America in 2020. So, context would be very necessary in this passage to understand how we would walk in faith towards God and His Word amid a different culture, with different moral problems.
So, let the “theological hair-splitting” begin by us looking at Matthew 25:31-46 so that we might understand what our Lord was saying about the separation of the goats and sheep. Let me make a simple list of the context.
1. Who is Jesus speaking to? For this we must go back to the beginning of Matthew 24 and follow it forward. In Matthew 24:1-3 we find out that the passage about the coming separation of the goats and the sheep was originally spoken onto his disciples, who were of course Jewish. The recipients of this initial information from Jesus were a private group of Jews who were his disciples.
2. What is the timing given to the passage? This is easily seen in Matthew 25:31 when Jesus says, "when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne." So, the timeframe is the future, at the end of the tribulation when Jesus appears in his glory. When Jesus, once again, walks upon this earth. Just before the millennial reign, there will be a separation of goats and sheep.
3. Who will be separated? Once again this is answered quickly and Matthew 25:32. Here Jesus states it will be a separation of the nations. This is especially important to comprehend, because most of the time this passage is primarily equated with a separation of individuals. However, if we read it within context, Jesus specifically says it will be a separation of the nations. I firmly believe that every nation that has ever been upon the face of the earth, dwelling in history, will receive judgment from God depending on how they have treated his people, Israel. In many places in Scripture, we see this happening, God judged Assyria based on how they treated Israel. God judged Babylonia based on how they treated Israel. Every nation is judged by the measuring stick of Israel, and in the future when God separates the goats and sheep, the nations that stand with Israel will be judged as sheep and the nations that have opposed and attempted to destroy Israel will be judged as goats.