A Voice in the
Wilderness

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" Sheep vs Goats "
    "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. And all the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides the sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.

    "Then the King will say to those on His right hand, Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

    "Then He will also say to those on the left hand, Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire having been prepared for the devil and his angels:" (Mt25:31-33,34,41)

First of all, before we get into the topic of this article, let us understand that this lesson is not about the same topic Jesus was proclaiming in Matthew 25. In this passage Jesus is talking -to- 'Israel', about when He comes to sit on David's throne in the end days, and how the "nations" treated Jesus' "brethren" (vs40), the Jews. In this parable the sheep are not the Church. The reward is the "kingdom" where the saints (including the Church) "reign with" Christ on this earth "a thousand years" (Re20:6) The "sheep" are the "nations" who treated Israel well, who get to survive and enter that -earthly- kingdom at the end of the 70th week, Jacob's trouble. Those who didn't, the goats, are destroyed.

But this comparison of sheep vs goats -also- can apply symbolically to Salvation vs Lostness, in the eternal scheme of things, as it relates to -all- the Saved or Lost throughout history. There is an imagery, here, that equates -sheep- with "righteousness", and -goats- with "wickedness". That's the symbolism we wish to use for this article.

The righteous are equated as the "sheep of His pasture" (Ps100:3) And on the other hand, the heathen sacrificed "to goats" (Le17:7), as Israel would do to the "satyrs" when they strayed from God. (2Ch11:15)

Indeed, sheep are typically portrayed as cuddly 'cute' animals. In local TV ads for "Serta" mattresses, they have had a whole series of cartoon animations about the "counting sheep"; animations with wide eyes, big smiley teethed faces, and numbers painted on their bodies. These sheep would come around to complain when a person bought a Serta mattress because the person is now sleeping soundly and no longer requires their services (to "count sheep"); putting them out of business. There is, of course, "Mary had a little lamb...its fleece was white as snow".

On the other hand goats are portrayed as being animals that will 'butt' anything in sight, will eat anything. And indeed, for those connected to satan worship, the inverted pentagram is associated with the goat: the lower point matching the goat's beard; and the two upper points, the goat's horns.

Sheep are portrayed as being "clean and white", and goats as being filthy and evil. Any of you ever actually -been- around sheep or goats? Do you know what the facts are? I haven't been around that many goats, but I did spend a couple years of my youth on the farm where my uncle had sheep.

Sheep are among the MOST -FILTHY- animals I've ever been around. Once they've been outside for any length of time, their fleece is NOT "white as snow". And as the fleece grows, and they do their periodic bodily functions, their backsides become quite grotesque. Lambs usually have their tails bobbed to lessen the filth.

Perhaps this will explain the cleansing process in the OT, when somebody had become "unclean". They were to wash in water, and also 'shave' the hair off their bodies. Hair is a collector of all sorts of filth.

Goats, on the other hand, having shorter fur, the few times I've been around them, have always seemed like they were 'cleaner'.

So why are sheep pictured as 'good', and goats as 'bad'? Inrinsically, are they not equal? ...or perhaps the goats are better? For sacrifices the guidelines were...

    "Your lamb shall be whole, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats." (ex12:5)
If either a sheep -or- goat could be used in sacrifice, there is no intrinsic difference.
    "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, each one to his own way; and Jehovah has laid upon Him the iniquity of us all." (Is53:6)
Aaah! Herein is Truth!

I don't know if goats are this way... cattle certainly are... but if sheep would find the slightest opening in the fence, the lead sheep would rear up, butt its head toward the opening, and charge through. And once the lead sheep was through, the rest would follow. And try to get out there and herd them back into the corral? Good luck! The gate could be opened for them to re-enter, and you could have several people around the outside of them, herding them in... they come to the open gate... and do you suppose they go through peacefully? NOT ON YOUR LIFE! They get to the open gate, and dart wildly to the sides; ANYWHERE -BUT- 'in' the gate..!! Cattle, if they got out, and you've been herding them back home, when they get to the gate, for the most part they know where 'home' is, and readily go through the gate. But NOT sheep!

So, why are 'sheep' an example of the righteousness of the Redeemed? We, like sheep, have gone our "own way". And what? God laid on Jesus Christ our iniquity.

It is as God said to Israel...

    "Therefore understand that Jehovah your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stiff-necked people." (De9:6)
As God describes Israel to the prophet...
    "And He said to me: Son of man, I am sending you to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have transgressed against Me to this very day....they are a rebellious house...they are a rebellious house...they are most rebellious...like that rebellious house (Ezk2:3,5,6,7,8)
It is "God...my righteousness" (Ps4:1)

Whether sheep or goats,

    "there is none righteous, no not one" (Rom3:10)

    "The fool has said in his heart, There is no God! They are corrupt; they have done abominable works, there is no one who does good. Jehovah looked down from Heaven upon the sons of men, to see if there were any who understood and sought God. They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, no, not one." (Ps14:1-3)

    "Yea, truth fails; and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey. And Jehovah saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice. And He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor. Therefore His own arm brought salvation unto Him; and His righteousness, it sustained Him." (Is59:15-16)

When a person is Saved, it is not their own faith which saves them. It is the "faith -of- Christ" (Ga2:16, Php3:9)

It is not...

    "...our righteousness, but... [God's] great mercies" (Dan9:18)
Again, as God said to Israel...
    "Jehovah did not set His love upon you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because Jehovah loves you, and to keep the oath which He has sworn to your fathers, Jehovah has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage...Therefore know that Jehovah your God, He is God, the faithful Mighty God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments" (De7:7-9)
That is why 'sheep', all smelly and filthy as they are, are held in esteem before God. It is not because we are "sheep", but because of God's mercy.
    "Through Jehovah’s kindness we are not consumed, because His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. Jehovah is my portion, says my soul; therefore I will hope in Him. Jehovah is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him." (Lam3:22-25)
Wherein is Salvation? How does a filthy, stinky sheep become "white as snow"? (Is1:18) Our -own- worthiness? Or that of Jesus Christ?
    "Therefore, if anyone is IN CHRIST, he is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are FROM GOD, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ..." (2Co5:17-18)
Jesus has "loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood" (Re1:5)

Amen!


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