After Sean left the nursing home, he felt an urge to visit and care for his sister-in-law, Tanya, so he called her out for lunch.
“How are you in the past few days? Could you sleep well? Don’t be too sad, there is a time for everything, when one has to go, one has to go! This is God’s will. Steven has already accomplished his mission on earth, you should be proud of him!” Sean was sipping his coffee and pouring out his words at the same time.
“Thanks for your concern, Sean,” Tanya replied calmly, “I understand this is out of God’s will, and I am also willing to submit to His plan. I felt very peaceful in the past few days, there was a spring of joy gushing out deep down inside my heart. This was really a tragic news out of the blue, but thank God He granted me a quiet and still heart to face it. Steven should have got all the credits, since he used to encourage and teach me to trust and rely on God no matter what; he also taught me to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and think less about myself, for sure God will have a plan and prepare for everything…..” Tanya’s speech stirred up Sean’s questions at the back of his mind, “I know Steven loved God and always strived to serve the Lord, I used to tease him for making too much unnecessary sacrifices for the Lord. To me, I always think that God wants us to lead a happy life, because He does not want man to suffer; however, Steven’s death gave me a second thought. I reflected upon the purpose of life and discovered that I am too superficial. I don’t lead a decent quality life, I only aim for fun and enjoyment, but did not receive genuine joy and satisfaction…….” Tanya agreed strongly by nodding her head, “Steven is really an exceptional spiritual man of God; he did not just talk, but walked a godly life. He practiced the teachings in the Bible and revealed God’s love through his daily life. Not only did Steven go to short-term mission during his annual leave, he also cared about the homeless people, besides, he visited the prison every month in order to lead Evangelical Bible Study, and even against my wish, he provided foster family care to some problematic kids from the CAS (Children’s Aid Society). He really brought me up one spiritual level and opened my eyes for how to advance the Kingdom of God. He helped me jumped out of my comfort zone, stimulated me with a worldview vision and aspired me to do great things for God!”
Sean dropped his head so low that his chin almost touched his chest. He felt extremely shameful. Although he and Steven were twins, they differed entirely in terms of their mission and determination. Sean vowed to carry on Steven’s last wish, and decided to beat him. He determined to lead the rest of his life for God fabulously and stunningly!
Your Initial Response
What is your mission for your life? How will you live the rest of your life?
31“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.
32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,
36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?
38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?
39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,
43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31–46 NIV)
1) “Eye” (“i=Eye”)
iEXP Bible Study Method
1 Draw a question mark at the place where you have difficulty of understanding.
2 Circle the phrase “the Son of Man”.
3 Underline the acts of the Son of Man and number them in ascending order.
4 Put the reasons that the sheep got their rewards in boxes and number them in ascending order.
5 Use a highlighter to emphasise the reasons that the goats got their punishment and number them in ascending order.
2) “Expound” (E)
iEXP Bible Study Method
Jesus Christ talked about His second coming and He will reward and punish two categories of people respectively, namely sheep and goats as representatives. What will happen when the Lord Jesus comes again? His second coming has what kind of impact on your now?
1 Who is “the Son of Man”?
2 What do the sheep and the goats represent (25:32)?
3 When will this judgment happen (25:31-32)?
4 How come humankind could earn eternal life by works (25:46)?
The Background of the Second Coming of Christ
The Second Advent of Christ will take place after the Great Tribulation. Before the second coming of the Lord, a beast ruler will be given satanic power to rule all nations (Rev. 13:7). After the gathering of all nations at Armageddon (Zech. 14:2; Rev. 16:13–16), Christ will return to judge (Rev. 19:11-21). Righteous Gentiles will enter His realm (Matthew 25:31-34), and minister to Him eternally (Dan. 7:14; Rev. 21:24-26).
The Reason for the second Coming of Christ
First of all, He comes to defeat the Antichrist and the nations assembled at Armageddon (Rev. 19:17–21). Second, He comes to gather, regenerate, and restore faithful Israel (Isa. 43:5-6; Jer. 24:6; Ezek. 11:17; 36:28; Amos 9:14-15; Mic. 7:18-19; Matthew 24:31). Third, He comes to judge and punish faithless Israel (Ezek. 11:21; 20:38). Fourth, He comes to separate the sheep from the goats (Matthew 25:31-46). Fifth, He comes to raise the Old Testament saints and the saints who died in the Great Tribulation to life (Job 19:25-26; Ps. 49:15; Isa. 25:8; 26:19; Dan. 12:2; Hos. 13:14; John 5:28-29; Heb. 11:35; Rev. 20:4-5). Sixth, He comes to judge fallen angels (1 Cor. 6:3).
The Company of the Second Coming of Christ
As the Messiah returns to the planet earth, He will be attended by a host of angels, adding to the splendor and glory of His second advent (Matthew 25:31)
The Parable of Christ
1 The Form of the Parable
Though people regarded it as a parable, it is not an illustrative story, but a vision concerning the future.
2 The Background of the Parable
The Characteristics of the Sheep and Goats:
Sheep and goats mingled during the day in the countryside. The shepherds separated them at night, for sheep could tolerate the cool air, but goats had to be herded together for warmth. Furthermore, sheep were more valuable than goats.
The Characteristics of the Left and the Right
The right is the preferred side in ancient literature. In several scenes of judgment where it occurs, the right side is for the righteous and the left for the wicked.
3 The Explanation of the Parable
Many scholars sought to find out who these brothers were, below are the five common explanations (Matthew 25:40):
They are the hungry, distressed and needy people.
They are apostles and other Christian missionaries.
A scholar states that they are three mutually exclusive groups. The first group is those outside the Christian community who think they are part of it. The second group holds that they are involved in the community but not the “little ones”. The third group is the “little ones” within the community.
These brothers are the disciples of Lord Jesus.
These brothers refer to the Jews during the Great Tribulation. During this period, it is a common practice to persecute the Jewish people. If a person is willing to accept the Jews, this indicates that they endorse the identity of the Jews as the chosen people, showing that they hold the Biblical conviction. This kind of interpretation best explains the incidents within the context (24:3).
4 The Emphasis of the Parable
To Gather the Nations
Many English translations translated this as “all the nations”, and some translated it as “all the Gentile nations”. A scholar stated that it should be translated as “the Gentiles.” That is to say, they are not Jewish people but those who live through the Tribulation period (cf. Joel 3:2, 12), and they will be judged individually.
When the Son of Man comes, He will surely separate the sheep from the goats as a shepherd did. With reference to the context, “separate” is related to judgment and punishment (25:32, 46). After the separation, the sheep on the right side will receive eternal life, and the goats on the left will perish.
5 The Content of the Parable
The Time of the Judgment
This judgment was different to the Great White Throne Judgment at the end of age (Rev. 20:11-15). However, some scholars combine both passages and term this “the general judgment,” but the Scripture has never mentioned a “general judgment” before. Both judgments are very different. This judgment is only connected with living human beings, but the White Throne Judgment is designated for the resurrected dead people. Furthermore, a gap of one thousand years separates both judgments. Finally, this judgment takes place on earth immediately after the Battle of Armageddon. When Christ comes again to earth, there will be no opportunity for people to receive Him as Messiah.
The Venue of Judgment
It mentioned about the glorious seat of the Messiah here, but when will this judgment occur? With reference to Joel 3:2, it will occur at the valley of Jehoshaphat, judging these gentiles.
The Basis of the Judgment
The Meaning of “Brother”
In a narrow sense, it implies “physical brotherhood”; in a broad sense, it might mean “spiritual brotherhood” of Israelites or Christians. The brothers are possibly the Jewish remnants who have turned to Christ during the Great Tribulation and they have been severely persecuted by the Antichrist.
How to Treat the Brothers
The Actions That Were Nice to the Brothers of Christ (25:35, 36, 40)
When brothers were hungry, thirsty, have no place to stay, naked, sick, and in prison, these Gentiles would take care and help them, meeting their needs. Such act of kindness was done to the brothers as if they were serving Christ.
The Explanation for Being Nice to the Brothers of Christ
The basis of judging will be the treatment by these Gentiles of a group which the Lord Jesus called “my brethren” (Mt 25:40). Who these are can be determined by a process of elimination. Since Christ is present as judge, since the church has been raptured before the tribulation begins, since living Gentiles are being judged, the only group left would seem to be the Jews of the tribulation times (His “brethren” according to the flesh). They will be the objects of intense persecution during those days, so that anyone who befriends them or does any act of kindness to them will himself come under great suspicion. People will not feed, clothe, or visit Jews simply for humanitarian reasons during that time. To do these things will involve a real risk of one’s own life, so doing these things will therefore be evidence of new life in the doer’s heart. In other words, the works of kindness which these Gentiles will have done for the Jewish brethren of the Lord will prove the regenerated condition of the Gentiles. Being regenerated saves them; doing these good works proves that they are regenerated. Why will these Gentiles come to Christ? The reason is very simple, this is because during the Tribulation, the Jews carry on the evangelical mission (24:14); as a result, some Gentiles will accept the message that they preach and will be saved.
The Prophecy of the Judgment
In the future the Gentiles will be gathered to the valley of Jehoshaphat, where they will receive the judgment of Christ, this kind of prophecy has already been recorded in the book of Joel (Joel 3: 12-14; 3: 16-17).
The Result of the Judgment
Sheep symbolise the saved Gentiles, and goats correspond to the unsaved Gentiles. Deeds take place from the heart; in that case, those who possess genuine faith will definitely reveal proper action. Owing to the fact that some Gentiles have received the Gospel, they meet the needs of the Jews, even though they have to face repulsion and persecution, but they pay no special attention to these treatments. These actions reveal their genuine faith and love. The rest of the Gentiles have never cared about the brothers of Christ, this reveals their fault, and becomes an evidence for their eternal punishment.
3) “Exercise” (X)
iEXP Bible Study Method
1 Jesus Christ decides the destiny of the goats according to their actions and decisions; a warning that is worthy for believers to pay attention.
2 Christians are the spokespeople and witnesses of Christ on earth. We must try our best to care for those around us, extending the Lord’s compassion and love to them.
3 Memorise Matthew 25:40.
40“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:40)
4 Resolve to treat the people around us nicely.
5 Everything we do for the Lord will be remembered by Him; Christians should have the determination and deeds to care for the needy.
6 Gentile believers care for the Jewish believers who are in the midst of suffering, an example that we should follow. There are a lot of people expecting help from other people in this day and age. We should extend our helping hands to them, easing their pain accordingly.
7 The gentile believers do not expect the Lord to count their good works as deeds done directly to Him. Christians should do good works naturally and these are seen as deeds done directly to the Lord.
4) “Proclaim” (P)
By applying the biblical truths to their lives, believers would experience God. When the Bible students experience God and His truths, they should follow the example of the early Christians of testifying to non-believers and believers boldly. By means of speech, we witness to non-believing friends and to edify believers alike. The fourth step of the iEXP Bible study is “Proclaim”.
iEXP Bible Study Method
After finished studying the text, try to apply the truths to your daily living, family life and church life, and pray that you will experience the truthfulness and power of God’s Word. Grab the opportunity to share your experience with non-believers and believers, in family altar, small groups and social gatherings, as a way of witnessing the power of the gospel to non-believers and edification of believers.