A Daily Word from the Word for Thursday, September 5, 2013
“All the nations will be gathered before Him [Jesus], and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left” – Matthew 25:32-33
Have you ever thought about what Jesus meant when he referred to people as either sheep or goats? I must admit, I haven’t either until the Lord pointed it out to me. We do know that Jesus is often called “The Good Shepherd” and those of us who belong to Him are considered His sheep.
The Greek word for “shepherd” as used in this verse is poimen (pr. poy-mane) which is “a literal or figurative shepherd, a pastor” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance). Keep this in mind as we continue with our study.
“Sheep” as used here is probaton (pr. prob-at-on) meaning “something that moves forward, a literal or figurative sheep, advance.” Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines “advance” as “to make progress.” Some characteristics of sheep (as reached by general consensus) include: dependent in their shepherd, and are the same everywhere (gospelcentric.org).
When we receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we take on His original image and likeness; therefore, all of God’s children are the same everywhere because we bear His image. God’s sons and daughters are soberly aware of their need to be dependent on The Good Shepherd; and in truth, would not want it or have it any other way. Children of the Most High Father understand their spiritual condition; and therefore, submit to Godly spiritual authority.
The word “goat” used in the first instance actually is a completely different word and meaning than its second occurrence. When Jesus divided His sheep from the goats (notice He doesn’t refer to the goats as “His”, only the sheep); the “goats” come from the Greek word eriphos (pr. er-if-os) which means “through the idea of hairiness, a kid.” Webster defines “hairy” as “difficult to deal with.” I realize that the Greek meaning of “kid” is referring to an actual goat; however, it brought to mind a human kid. When we think of a kid, we generally think of someone who is young, inexperienced, thinks they know everything, rebellious, defiant toward and unwilling to submit to authority, and difficult to deal with. Never your kid, right J? Yeah, mine neither (I can’t even keep a straight face, as I am shaking my head).
The second instance of “goat,” after they have been separated from the sheep, is eriphion (pr. er-if-ee-on) meaning “symbolizing a wicked person.” Why do the goats go from being “difficult to deal with” to “wicked” after being separated from the sheep? The Greek word for “separate” is aphorize (pr. af-or-id-zo), which means “to set off boundary, limit, exclude, sever.”
God warns that if an individual refuses to come out of their sinful and worldly ways; and after many years of unheeded convincing by His Holy Spirit, that “since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, He gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done” (Romans 1:28).
For the sheep, the true believers, God has caused the boundary lines to fall in pleasant places; thus making their lots secure in Him (Psalm 16:6). The goats are placed outside of these boundary lines, as they are left to their own warped devices, their own ungodly ways, and their own twisted mentality because they refused to submit to God’s spiritual authority. God will not violate our free will.
The “right” Hand of the Father is dexios (pr. dex-ee-os) which means “to receive, accept.” The “left” Hand is euonumous (pr. yoo-o-noo-mos) which is “the lucky side among pagans.” This is a place of spiritual rejection; for God makes no room for pagan worship or pagan worshippers.
Some of the widely-accepted characteristics of goats are: independent, violent tendencies, and have a pecking order within the herd (Molly Nolte, fiascofarm.com).
John Ritenbaugh waxed beautifully about the children of God as sheep, when he wrote “the true love of God is seen in the sheep. As the sheep respond to their brother's need, they are united in their distress and at the same time unwittingly, unconsciously, without hypocrisy, align themselves with Christ. Apparently, they are not even aware of what they were doing. This is a kind of love that cannot be faked or put on. ‘By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another’ (John 13:35).”
And of the goats, Ritenbaugh laments “The reaction of the goats is quite different. They have little sympathy for God's way and remain indifferent, Laodicean, to their brethren. In so doing, they reject their Messiah, their King, since He lived in the people whom they would not serve. The goats are condemned because of their sins of omission.”
Tired of being subjected to the violent tendencies and pecking order of the world? Then come into the fold where the grass is green, the lot secure, and the ‘Son’ shines forevermore.
Father, thank You that we are your sheep. Thank you for ushering us into Your presence and into your fold. Most Loving Shepherd, we submit to Your spiritual authority because we know our need, and our need is for You and in You; because You are our Savior. In Jesus Name, we thank You that You keep us securely and permanently in your pasture. Amen and Amen.
Take action! Challenge your thinking! Choose to be a sheep and forsake the goats. Choose to become more like a sheep and less like a goat everyday by submitting your will to the Will of the Father. Choose to graze securely and contently in the green and pleasant pasture of the Good Shepherd. And continue to fight the good fight of staying in the fold; for God, your Great Shepherd, has already given you the victory!
If you have never received Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, I encourage you to do it today, right now, by saying this prayer out loud: “Jesus, forgive me for my sins. I am sorry. I truly desire to be saved and reconciled back to God, my Father, through You. I receive Your sinless Blood as payment in full for my sins—past, present, and future. I now call You my Lord and Savior, and invite You to live within my heart, and to permanently live within me. I make You Lord over me and over my life from this moment on. Amen.” Congratulations! You are now a child of God, made whole and made new, by the Blood of Jesus Christ!
God tells us that we are blessed to be a blessing (Genesis 12:2). Be a blessing to someone by sending them this word of encouragement. If God did not already put someone in your spirit and on your heart that needs to read this uplifting message from above, simply ask your Heavenly Father who to bless on today. Forward this message right now by email, facebook, or twitter.
Jesus is coming soon!
May God Bless you and keep you always.
With warmest regards,
And, in service of The Most High King,
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All references to Hebrew and Greek words and meanings, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance © 1990 by Thomas Nelson Publishing. All dictionary references are taken from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary © 2013, unless otherwise noted.