Saturday, July 4, 2009

Goats and the Kingdom of God

"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 o​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...

"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. " (Matthew 25:31-34 & 41)
This is the second post in a mini-series on why I think the Kingdom of God is not something that can be said to be here now, or at hand (as it was during Jesus' early ministry).

The first post was an argument based on the binding of Satan as part of the establishment of the Kingdom.

Today I would like to take a look at another thing that Jesus says will occur as a part of the process of erecting the Kingdom.

In the passage cited above, Jesus teaches that when the Son of Man comes one day to establish the Kingdom, He will first separate the sheep from the goats. The sheep will enter into the Kingdom, but the goats will be sentenced to hell.

I think it is important to note here that the judgment upon the goats is due to their own choices, but pronounced by God Himself. So it seems that God is the judge, not man. In one sense, the choices of the goats did not condemn them and they did not send themselves to hell or create a metaphorical living hell for themselves. Rather, their choices made them guilty and therefore worthy of condemnation. But they are not the judges. God is the judge, and God is the one who pronounces the sentence.

I also think it is relevant that hell is a place where the Son of Man will send the goats. This implies that hell is a netherworld and unless one has the power to travel across time or dimensions or whatever it is that separates this world from hell, one cannot claim to be able to send oneself to hell.

Finally, the result of the Sheep and Goat Judgement is that there will be no more goats afterward. To put this more formally:

1. When the KOG has been established, it will be true that "there are no longer any goats".
2. It is currently not true that "there are no longer any goats".
3, Therefore, it is currently not true that the KOG has been established.

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