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STAND FIRM: Church, We Must Get Israel Right – Be the Righteous Among the Nations

      I’ve been writing about us, as the church, getting Israel right since returning from Israel in July, and I’m ready to move to a new series, but I believe the timing was right on this series. Hopefully, through this conflict in Israel, you’ve been able to go back and review some of those articles. This last article (though it will be two parts) in this series is why I have been writing them and why I’m doing the live “Truth on Israel” events. I believe Matthew 25 shows that our treatment of Jews and Israel is a judgment issue. I don’t fully understand what that precisely means, but I believe it is something we need to consider.

      You’re likely familiar with the “sheep and goats” passage in Matt. 25:31-46, where Jesus says: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All 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. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left” (Matt. 25:31-33 NIV). Jesus explains that the nations are separated by their righteousness and what makes one righteous in this judgment. The long passage is the ending of The Olivet Discourse, which is in Matthew 24 and 25. This discourse is Jesus answering the disciples’ question about the signs of the end of the age. From the beginning of Matthew 24 through verse 31, Jesus walks through the signs of the end of the age in seemingly chronological order. In verse 32, He changes to the application of those signs. This application culminates into two larger parables in Matthew 25 that precede the “sheep and goats” passage. Because of these two parables, Matt. 25:31-46 is often called a third parable, but on closer examination, verses 31-46 aren’t a parable. Your Bible translation likely includes “parable” in the first two passages’ sub-headings but not in the third. Those first two passages also begin with a “like” or “as” statement, showing they’re a parable, while verses 31-46 don’t.

      Therefore, if the passage isn’t a parable, it tells what will actually happen. Interestingly, Matt. 25:31 picks up directly from the account in Matt. 24:31. Matthew 24:30-31 closes with the Son of Man (Jesus) returning and gathering the elect, then Matt. 25:31 continues, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him…” The action is connected.

      So, at the return of Jesus, He gathers the nations (Gentiles) and divides them according to their righteousness. Jesus goes on to explain what makes one righteous: “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. For 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, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 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.’ 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. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I 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’” (Matt. 25:34-43).

      Those considered righteous are the ones who took care of the “least of the brethren of Jesus,” while the unrighteous are those who didn’t. I have preached this passage many times. In those sermons, it was a call to care for the least of these. We know that is true throughout many teachings in Scripture, but I believe more is being said here.

      First, it is possible that this judgment, like the parables above, deals with how to be at the end of the age. Second, who are the “brethren” of Jesus? Now, we know that Christians are, but in the strictest sense, it is Jews. Third, and most importantly, Jesus wasn’t telling the disciples anything new. They already knew that when the Messiah came and defeated Israel’s final enemy, He’d gather the nations in the Kidron Valley — the Valley of Jehoshaphat. They knew this from the prophet Joel, who prophesied: “In those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will put them on trial for what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel, because they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land. They cast lots for my people and traded boys for prostitutes; they sold girls for wine to drink” (Joel 3:1-3).

      The disciples had this foundation from the prophet Joel, and I believe Jesus was just explaining more about Joel’s prophecy. If so, do you see the possible clarity that brings to Jesus’ words in Matthew 25? For here in Joel, it is foretold that nations would be judged according to how they cared for Israel after they had been brought back into the land. If that is what Matt. 25:31-46 is saying, it is important that we take heed. We also already have a precedence to what this might look like, which I will share in the next article.

      Don’t forget to register for upcoming Truth on Israel Events. Tickets are free, but these a ticket is required due to limited space! You can use the link for each event. For Central Arkansas, the event will be on Nov. 6 in Conway at Central Baptist College’s Community Room beginning at 6:30 p.m. (tiny.cc/TruthonIsraelConway). Then, for Northwest Arkansas, at Epic Church in Springdale on Nov. 7 at 6:30 p.m. (tiny.cc/TruthonIsraelSpringdale). We have just scheduled an event for Northeast Arkansas at Crosspoint Baptist Church in Brookland for Nov. 28 at 6:30 p.m.

      I’m also available to come to your church. My schedule is limited due to my pastoring, but it is free for any BMA of Arkansas church!

         — Jake is a state missionary and would love to share about the work in Northwest Arkansas and encourage your church to stand firm. (standfirmministries.com)