Before discussing the Sheep and Goats Judgment, let’s review the events immediately preceding it.
At the end of the “Tribulation”, Jesus will appear with His holy ones and defeat the armies gathered against Him at Armageddon. The antichrist and the false prophet will be thrown into the eternal lake of fire, and satan and the demons will be locked into the abyss for 1000 years. We see a picture of this courtroom scene in Daniel chapter 7:
“As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire issued and came out from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened. “I looked then because of the sound of the great words that the horn was speaking. And as I looked, the beast was killed, and its body destroyed and given over to be burned with fire. As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season and a time. “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed. (v9-14)
The elect remnant of Israel will then be gathered from among the nations:
31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. (Matthew 24)
27 And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. (Mark 13)
Some confuse this passage with the rapture. However, at the rapture, 1 Thessalonians 4:16, the Lord Himself will give a shout of command along with the trumpet sound of God and we will obey. Angels don’t do the collecting at the rapture. After the Second Coming, the angels collect the elect after being sent with a trumpet call. This reminds us of Zechariah 2:6, where God states that “I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heavens, declares the Lord.” Where He once spread Israel abroad via the four winds, He will now gather them via the four winds. “And so all Israel will be saved.” (Romans 11:26) The elect (saved by grace through faith in the Messiah Jesus Christ) remnant of Israel will go straight into the Millennial Kingdom.
After the judgment of the fallen ones and the collection of elect Israel, all remaining living humans are rounded up for judgment. This is the “Sheep and Goats” Judgment, and likely is a continuation of the courtroom scene we saw in Daniel 7. The Sheep and Goat categories determine where each person will spend the Millennial Kingdom:
“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)
The sheep are placed at Jesus’ right hand, and are given an inheritance in the Millennial Kingdom. They will enter in their physical bodies and repopulate a restored earth, enjoying long life and reversal of the “curse”. While not explicitly stated here, the sheep qualify for this inheritance by grace through faith in Jesus Christ – salvation (see John 1:12, Acts 15:11, Romans 3:22-24, Romans 4:4-8, Galatians 3:6-9, Ephesians 2:8-9). They demonstrate the authenticity of their faith through good works throughout the times of tribulation – a monumental task given that this will be the most difficult period humanity has ever faced. It will take true faith to share and give when resources are extremely scarce. Remember that the sum of the law and the prophets is to love God and to love others: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8)
We know from Matthew 12 that Jesus considers those who do God’s will to be His brothers and sisters – “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Thus, humanity will be particularly evaluated as to the authenticity of their salvation through how they tried to meet the needs of other believers (food, water, shelter, clothing, and prison visitation mentioned here). Whatever we do for a fellow believer (or a fellow human being and “potential” believer), we do for God Himself. The good works are not the cause of salvation, but the effect of salvation. Salvation is, as always, by grace alone through faith alone.
Those who do not have an authentic faith, or those who openly reject Christ, will demonstrate this by acting selfishly. Basic supplies will be limited and sinful human nature will struggle with “survival of the fittest”. Those who rejected Christ will be killed (sent to hell/the abyss) and await the general resurrection and Great White Throne judgment following the Millennial Kingdom.
Are you CERTAIN of your Salvation, beyond a shadow of a doubt? Do you KNOW that no matter when the rapture occurs, you will be counted worthy to escape? If not, please read What Must I do to Be Saved.
The Bible is infallible. I am not. Be a Berean – examine the scriptures for yourself to see if these things are so!