The Sheep and the Goats, Part 3

The Sheep and the Goats, Part 3

 

sheep-and-goats

The gradual work of separating sheep and goats will require all of the Millennial Age for its accomplishment. During that age, each individual as he comes gradually to a knowledge of God and his will, by conforming or not conforming thereto, takes his place at the right hand of favor, or the left hand of disfavor accordingly as he either improves or fails to improve the opportunities of that golden age. By the end of that age, all the world of mankind (not the present Church) will have arranged themselves, as shown in the parable, into two classes. As in nature, sheep are far more numerous than goats, so we doubt not that with the perfect knowledge then possessed, the sheep company will far outnumber the goats. (This in contrasts with the present age in which the goats far outnumber the sheep).

With the end of that age comes the end of the world’s trial, or judgment, and the final disposition made between the two classes. The goats who have not developed the element of love–the law of God’s being and kingdom–are not counted worthy of life, and must be destroyed, while the sheep who have developed, and by deeds (works) exhibited God-likeness (love) are to be installed as the rulers of earth for future ages.

The work of restitution will not be quite complete until the great mass of mankind, having been restored to the perfect condition, is re-invested with the dominion of earth as possessed by Adam before sin entered, as God had said, “After our likeness let him have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, over the cattle and over all the earth,…and over every living thing that moves upon the earth“–a ruler over earth, like as God is ruler over all things. And the Psalmist expresses the same idea, saying, Thou hast made man a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor; thou made him to have dominion over the works of thy hands. (Psa 8:5-8) The dominion is not to be over each other, for when the law of love controls human hearts, there will be no necessity for dominion over one another, though by mutual consent, prompted by love, regulations may be made among themselves for the common good and blessing of all.

This, then, is the kingdom that has been preparing for MANKIND from the foundation of the world. It was expedient that man should suffer six thousand years under the dominion of evil (“The Permission of Evil”, which see), to learn its inevitable results, misery and death, and in order by contrast to prove the justice, wisdom and goodness of God’s law–love. Then it requires the seventh thousandth year under the reign of Christ, to restore him from ruin and death, to the perfect condition, thereby fitting him to inherit the kingdom prepared for him from the foundation of the world.

This kingdom in which all are kings, will really be a GRAND REPUBLIC, whose stability and blessed influence will be assured, by the perfection of every member, which result now so much desired is an impossibility. The kingdom of the saints is on the contrary a Theocracy, which will rule the world (during the period of its imperfection and restoration) without regard to their consent or approval.

But the righteous will inquire why they are crowned with such glory, honor and dominion. And the Lord’s reply:

I was hungry, and you fed me; thirsty, and you gave me drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in; naked, and you clothed me; I was sick, and you visited me; in prison, and you came unto me.” “Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, and fed thee? Or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? Or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?” “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

Let us notice who these are that Jesus calls his brethren, and in what sense the deeds here named may be true of them. We observe, first, that Jesus is addressing all the sheep or the righteous class, at the end of the millennial age. By then all of that class will have had opportunity to minister to the necessities of the Lord’s brethren.

Jesus calls the Church of the Gospel age his brethren (Matt 12:49, 50) but all of the sheep class then addressed, will not have had opportunity to minister to those brethren. Millions of the sheep class will be of those who lived before the Gospel Church had an existence; and others will have been born during the millennial age, after the Gospel Church has been exalted and no longer needs their ministry.

The brethren of the Gospel Church then are not the only brethren of Christ, all who at that time will have been restored to perfection, will be recognized as sons of God; sons in the same sense that Adam was a son of God (Luke 3:38) —human sons. And all of God’s sons whether on the human, the angelic, or the divine planes, are BRETHREN. Jesus’ love for these, his brethren, is here expressed. As the world now has opportunity to minister to those who are shortly to be the divine sons of God, and brethren of Christ, so they will have abundant opportunity during that age to minister to (each other) their human brethren.

The dead nations when again brought into existence will need food, and raiment, and shelter. However great may have been their possessions in this life, death will have brought all to a common level; the infant and the old man, the millionaire and the pauper, the learned and the unlearned, the cultured and the ignorant and degraded, and all will have an abundant opportunity for the exercise of benevolence, and thus they will be privileged to be co-workers with God lifting each other up out of the mire of sin and degradation. We are here reminded of the illustration given in the case of Lazarus: Jesus only awakened him from death, and then permitted the rejoicing friends to loose him from his grave clothes and clothe him and feed him.

Further, these are said to be “sick and in prison,” (more properly, under ward or watch.) The grave is the great prison where the millions of humanity have been held in unconscious captivity; but when released from the grave, the restoration to perfection is not an instantaneous work. Being not yet perfect, they may properly be termed sick and under ward. They are not dead, neither are they yet perfect; and any condition between those two is properly called sick. And they will continue to be under watch or ward until made well –physically, mentally, and morally perfect. During that time there will be abundant opportunity for mutual helpfulness, sympathy, instruction and encouragement.

Since mankind will not all be raised at once, but in separate ranks or orders (1 Cor 15:23) during the thousand years, each new rank will find an army of helpers in those who will have preceded them. The love and benevolence which men will then show to each other (the brethren of Christ) the King will count as shown to him. No great deeds are assigned as the ground for the honors and favors conferred upon the righteous; they have simply come into harmony with God’s law–love–and proved it by their works. “Love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom 13:10), and “God is love,” so, when man is restored again to the image of God, declaredvery good” –man also will be love.

Then follows the message to those on the left–“Depart from me ye cursed (condemned)“–condemned, as unfit vessels for the glory and honor of life, who chose not to yield to the molding and shaping influences of divine love. When these my brethren (the world of mankind then raised) were hungry, and thirsty, naked, sick, and in prison, ye ministered not to their necessities (failed to perform the necessary “works”, acts of benevolence, love then prerequisite for those being fitted for the everlasting kingdom), thus continually proving yourselves out of harmony with the heavenly city (kingdom) for “there shall in no case enter into it anything that defiles.”

The decision and sentence regarding this class is, “Depart from me into everlasting fire [symbol of destruction, the second death] prepared for the devil and his angels.” Elsewhere (Heb 2:14) we read in plain language that Christ “will destroy…him that has the power of death that is the devil.” And the lake of fire is defined to be the second death (Rev 20:14).

And these” [the goats] “go away into everlasting punishment” [cutting off–Diaglott–cutting off from life] “but the righteous into life eternal.” The punishment is as lasting as the reward. The reward is everlasting life; the punishment the opposite, everlasting death; a death from which there will be no redemption, no resurrection.

To the sheep it is said, Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” But though God give it to man at first, and designs restoring it to him when he has prepared him for the great trust, we are not to suppose that God intends man to rule it except as under or in harmony with his supreme law. Thy will be done in earth as it is done in heaven,” must forever be the rule. Man henceforth will rule his dominion in harmony with the law of heaven–delighting continually to do his will “in whose favor is life, and at whose right hand [condition of favor] there are pleasures forevermore.” (Psa 16:11) O who would not say, “Haste thee along ages of glory,” and give glory and honor to him whose loving plans are blossoming into such fullness of blessing.

 

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