The Second Coming: Separating the Sheep and the Goats
Taught July 23, 2023
Scripture: Matthew 25:31-46
Golden Text: (v.46)
Table of Contents
Watch & Listen
In our lesson last week, we got to take a peek behind the curtain to see life on the spiritual plane through the death of the rich man and Lazarus. Our lesson this week continues down the road of looking at what will happen when life, as we know it, comes to an end. This week’s lesson takes a look at God’s judgment of the world.
The Coming of Christ
Our lesson this week opens up by focusing on when the Son of Man comes (v.31). Now, I need to make sure I properly set this setting for you to understand when this takes place. There are two comings of Christ that are shared with us in scripture. Let me fully explain what I mean by the comings of Christ, because there is a great difference between His comings and His appearances.
The difference between His appearances and comings
Several times throughout the Old Testament we see the appearances of the pre-incarnate Christ as He was referred to as the Angel of God. (I believe it was Fall Quarter 2022 where we had a few lessons with mentions of the Angel of God). The coming of Christ speaks to Christ setting foot in the world, and this occurs two times in scripture.
The first time that Christ set foot in the world is when He was born in the flesh through Mary; this was the first coming of Christ that was prophesied by the prophets. The second coming of Christ often gets confused with the Rapture. The Rapture will be more of an appearance by Christ because He will not set foot on the world. Christ will appear in the heavens with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God to call all sincere believers to Him (1 Thess. 4:16).
The second of Christ is what we will be taking a look at in our lesson for today. The second coming of Christ will come with Christ actually setting foot on our world for the first time since His ascension. It is during His second coming where the Millennial Kingdom will be set up and take place.
The scripture of our lesson today will take a look at the Lord’s judgment as to who will be a part of the Millennial Kingdom – the 1,000 year reign of Christ in the world (Rev. 20:1-6). Prior to this 1,000 years, in the book of Revelation, we will see where Satan will be bound and thrown into the bottomless pit for the entirety of the 1,000 year reign – this is not the devil being cast into the lake of fire as shown later in this chapter.
Second coming of Christ
The second coming of Christ will begin with Christ sitting on His throne with all nations gathered before Him (v.32). To be clear, when we say that all nations will be gathered before Christ, we should understand that this means all the people that will be living at that time. Again, the time period that this takes place will be at the end of the Great Tribulation period. The Great Tribulation, takes place following the Rapture; it lands in between the Rapture, the Millennial Kingdom, “Armageddon”, and the Great White Throne.
Here’s a mapping of the ages of time that I shared in my “The Last Days” study series that may help you understand the timing:
I also want to make it clear that the throne that Jesus will sit on to judge all the nations, is not the same as the “Judgment Seat of Christ”. The “Judgment Seat of Christ” is reserved for those of sincere faith that lived during the age of the Church – that is us believers of today. This throne of judgment is reserved only for those of the Great Tribulation; you and I as sincere believers will have already been rewarded by this point.
Now, at this throne of judgment, we are told that Christ will divide his sheep from the goats. During the Great Tribulation, the gospel will still be available as, I believe, the work of the Church will live after the Church is called to Christ. The gospel will still be available through scripture, and I even believe all of the books and recordings will still be available as well. After the Rapture, I believe there will be quite a few that search the scriptures and listen to those old messages, by that point of time, and begin their walk of faith with the Lord.
Those who walk in faith during the Great Tribulation, they will be Jesus’ sheep as well and become known as Tribulation Saints. We are told that the sheep will be set on the right hand of Christ, whereas the goats, those who will still live in rejection of God during the Great Tribulation, will be set on the left (v.33). Again, this is the judgment to determine who will be let into the Millennial Kingdom.
Jesus’ judgment of the Great Tribulation survivors
To those who were of faith and will walk in faith during the days of the Great Tribulation, Jesus tells them to come and inherit the kingdom prepared for you (v.34). The Tribulation Saints will be blessed — made content in their soul. The kingdom that has been prepared for them is the Millennial Kingdom; Jesus’ second coming is for the Tribulation Saints. Yes, the Tribulation Saints will inherit the heavenly kingdom but heaven is for all believers.
Now, those who will be allowed to enter into the Millennial Kingdom because they moved in faith. Jesus tells them that they helped Him in His time of need; when He was hungry, thirsty, a stranger, sick, and didn’t have clothes on His back or shoes on His feet. They will ask Him, “when did we see You [in need]?” Jesus will respond, “inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to Me (vss.35-40).”
We often speak of this scripture as if Jesus is saying those things to us, though, in the context of scripture/time, we know He says those things to the Tribulation Saints. Even though these things are said to the Tribulation Saints, you better believe that this is how Christ judges us who are of the age of the Church. We should know this because Christ has commanded us to love the Lord and our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matt. 22:36-40; Luke 10:25-28).
So, I would say to you today, even though we will not face this particular judgment at that time, we are already being judged by how we carry ourselves. Therefore, we should mistreat nobody; we should do our best to move in the love of God and love all people.
I say this because in His speaking of the Millennial Kingdom judgment, we see what happens to the goats. Again, the goats will be those that choose to live in rejection of God during the Great Tribulation. Those on the left, the goats, Jesus will say to them, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devils and his angels (v.41).”
This statement from Christ is a very interesting statement because of when it is made. This statement is made before the Great White Throne judgment. You see, while some will have a change of heart after the Rapture, those whose heart does not change during the time of the Great Tribulation will never have a change of heart. So, sin is set in stone in the hearts of those that come through the Great Tribulation; they will never repent and turn to the Lord.
Because they will never turn to the Lord, their judgment is also set in stone (v.46); they will not be allowed in the heavenly kingdom, nonetheless the millennial kingdom. You see, this is why those that go before the Great White Throne won’t be able to plead their case before the Lord: they will have chosen to live wickedly after every opportunity was given to them to change (vss.44-45).
To show you how set in stone they are in living in rejection against the Lord, they will stand with the devil in his final stand against the Lord after the millennial kingdom (Rev. 20:7-9). At the end of the millennial kingdom, they will surround the saints with pure evil intent and be completely wiped out by the Lord.
Their wickedness will be put on the table for the Lord to judge and the wicked will be unable to make any excuses. All of the wicked that are in torments in the waiting place of Hades will also face the same judgment; the Lord will cast them into the lake of fire. The wicked, along with Satan himself, will be cast from God’s presence for eternity.