“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 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 drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, 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?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
(Matthew 25:31-46 ESV)
When Jesus returns to earth at the end of the seven-year Tribulation He will divide all those alive into two groups. One group, who He refers to as sheep because of their peacefulness, will be shown favor. We saw this yesterday. Today we see what will happen to the other group, who Jesus refers to as goats because of their stubborn nature.
Rather than being called blessed as the first group was, this group is called cursed. Rather than being invited to enter into His earthly kingdom as the first group was, this group will be told to depart from Him into the eternal fire. These people, who lived during the Tribulation are sent straight to hell. Why?
To understand we must understand what will occur in the Tribulation. This will be a seven-year period during which the entire planet is ruled by one man, known as the Antichrist. This man will come on the world scene rather quietly and will be viewed as a man of peace. He will even bring peace to the Middle East for the first time in history by making a seven-year peace treaty with Israel [Daniel 9:27].
But half way through this treaty the Antichrist’s real motives will be revealed. He will turn against Israel, Jews, and anyone who believes in Jesus, persecuting and killing them mercilessly for three and one-half years (known as the Great Tribulation). This will be the most gruesome, violent, and bloody period in all of human history.
During this time there will be some people who will have compassion on these persecuted followers of Jesus to whom they will provide food, drink, clothes, and shelter. These kind people will be rewarded with life in Jesus’ earthly kingdom as we learned yesterday.
However, there will also be people who do not help these persecuted believers. They will give no food or drink or clothes. They will not visit those who will be unjustly imprisoned for what they believe. And by neglecting these people they will unknowingly be neglecting Jesus.
Two thousand years ago an ambitious young man named Saul persecuted and killed followers of Jesus [Acts 7:54-60, 8:3, 9:1]. What He didn’t realize was that He was persecuting Jesus by persecuting Jesus’ followers [Acts 9:1-5]. Jesus confronted Saul who changed His ways (and changed His name to Paul). He ended up writing several letters that are part of the New Testament.
No such second chance will be given to the “goats” at the end of the Great Tribulation. They will go away into eternal punishment. Notice that these people didn’t necessarily harm Jesus’ followers. They simply didn’t care about them.
This may seem harsh but there are a couple of things we need to consider. First, as we’ve seen, the 3½ years of the Great Tribulation will not be an ordinary time. The absolute worst of human nature will be on display. There will be people who will be in tremendous need of the basic necessities of life. To ignore such people will be heartless.
We also need to realize that Jesus’ words here are a warning to those people who will be alive at this time. All people have to do is read their Bibles so they can understand the future and take action to ensure that they end up in the “sheep” group rather than in the “goat” group.
But, sadly, these people won’t read their Bibles. So they won’t realize what will happen to them. They will think they are doing the right things to make the world a better place. But in reality they are simply being duped and used by the devil and his angels with whom they will spend eternity.
The Bible tells us how to avoid hell and enter heaven. Anyone who ignores it will have only themselves to blame.
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