Today, we come to our final study of the Olivate Discourse, arriving at that famous passage about the separation of the sheep and the goats.
When Jesus returns in His glory at the end of the Great Tribulation, it will mark the beginning of His thousand-year reign on earth, which we call the Millennial Kingdom.
At the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom, Jesus will resurrect all those who had been martyred during the Tribulation (Rev. 20:4). This is called "The First Resurrection." But the final judgment of those who have died apart from Christ will not take place until the end of the thousand years (Rev. 20:12). That is called "The Great White Throne Judgment" (Rev. 20:11).
But there will be a judgment at the beginning of the millennium, called "the Judgment of the Nations."
Remember that the circumstances surrounding Jesus' return to earth will be less than welcoming. The armies of the world's nations will be gathered against Jerusalem (Zech. 14:2) and assembled to make war against Jesus (Rev. 16:14; 19:19). Once they are destroyed (Rev. 19:21), it is left to Jesus to decide what to do with the citizens of those nations.
Should they all be destroyed, or should they be allowed to become citizens of the Millennial Kingdom? His decision will be to judge each of the nations individually. In the book of Joel, He says,
Joel 3:1-2 "For behold, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Yeh-ho-shaw-FAWT..."
This gathering of the nations will take place in the Valley of Yeh-ho-shaw-FAWT. Since we do not know of any place with this name, we have to assume that, because the Hebrew word "Yeh-ho-shaw-FAWT" means, "Yahweh will judge," the Lord is saying, I will bring them to "the valley where God will judge."
Now this judgment is going to take some time. It is thought by many that the first month of the Millennium will be spent judging the nations. We get this idea because in Revelation, we learn that from the Abomination of Desolation, Christ will return in...
Rev. 12:6 ...one thousand two hundred and sixty days.
But the angel had told Daniel that his count was a bit different. He starts from the same time...
Dan. 12:11-12 "From the time that the regular sacrifice is abolished and the abomination of desolation is set up, [there will be] 1,290 days. How blessed is he who keeps waiting and attains to the 1,335 days!
And so the number that Daniel is told is 30 days longer that what John is told. This seems to be set aside for the court of inquiry in the Valley of Yeh-ho-shaw-FAWT, the judging of the nations. However the timing works out, we know that whoever makes it to the 1,335th day, or 75 days after Christ's return, is blessed!
When the nations are gathered before Jesus at the Valley of Yeh-ho-shaw-FAWT, they will be separated, like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
Shepherds typically kept their flocks of sheep and goats together during the daytime. But as night approached, they would be separated into their different places.
What will determine whether a nation is included in the sheep or the goats? We get an idea as we continue reading...
In Jesus' statement, the King says the decision was based on their treatment of "these brothers of mine." We often interpret this as meaning the church. At times, Jesus did call the disciples "My brethren (Matt. 28:10), but we in the church are called sons of God (Gal. 3:26; 1John 3:1).
It would instead appear the phrase "these brothers of mine" refers to the physical brotherhood of Jesus - the Jews. Let's turn back to the book of Joel and see how this plays out.
After the nations are gathered in the Valley of Yeh-ho-shaw-FAWT...
Joel 3:2-8 "...Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; And they have divided up My land. They have also cast lots for My people, traded a boy for a harlot and sold a girl for wine that they may drink. Moreover, what are you to Me, O Tyre, Sidon and all the regions of Philistia? Are you rendering Me a recompense? But if you do recompense Me, swiftly and speedily I will return your recompense on your head. Since you have taken My silver and My gold, brought My precious treasures to your temples, and sold the sons of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks in order to remove them far from their territory, behold, I am going to arouse them from the place where you have sold them, and return your recompense on your head. Also I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the sons of Judah, and they will sell them to the Sabeans, to a distant nation, for the LORD has spoken."
What will be the standard of sheep/goat separation? How the nations have treated Israel. The ones that are judged will be judged because:
- They have scattered Israel among the nations (Joel 3:2,6)
- They have divided up His land (Joel 3:2)
- They have enslaved the Jews (Joel 3:3,6)
- They have stolen the temple treasures (Joel 3:5)
And so the basis of judgment will be, "Did they do harm to the Jews, or help them?" The nations that treated the Jews well will be allowed to enter the kingdom. But the nations that did not will be sent into the eternal fire. One of God's oldest promises to Abraham is still in effect:
Gen. 12:2-3 "And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse..."
The ones who are cursed go away into eternal fire. This is the place which Jesus says has been prepared for the devil and his angels (25:41). But as we see, the devil and his angles are not the only ones who end up there.
The destination of those who stand before the Great White Throne judgment will be that eternal fire. You see, the Bible says,
Rev. 20:14-15 ...This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
There are two deaths that many people will suffer: The first is physical, the second is spiritual. The first death occurs when your soul is separated from your body. The second death occurs when your soul is separated from God.
The second death is basically God granting people their earthly wish: to be apart from God. People who live their lives wanting nothing to do with God will spend eternity that way.
Now, if you don't want to die twice, you have to be born twice. Jesus said,
John 3:3 ..."Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
If you're born once, you'll die twice. But if you're born twice, you'll only die once.