“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. ‘All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left” (Matthew 25:32).
Have you ever thought about why there needs to be a separation of sheep and goats? I remember the first time I heard that sheep and goats look alike, especially Middle Eastern goats and sheep. I found a fun article about how sheep and goats are similar and how they are different.
Sheep are grazers while goats are browsers and tend to be loaners and wander in the mountains. Sheep are bold and confident once they get over their initial fears. They are survivors and have the ability to evade predators by following dominant ‘lead sheep’. Sheep are hard workers (carry salt in Mongolia) while goats tend to be lazy and ‘lay down.’ Sheep are more robust than goats and tend to get fewer diseases. Baby sheep are called ‘lambs’ while baby goats are ‘kids.’
There are 63 references to goats in Scripture most of which are about sacrifice. There are the two goats used on Yom Kippur that are used for Israel’s atonement: one is sacrificed and one is the scapegoat. There is the ‘don’t boil a kid in its mother’s milk’ referring to a pagan worship practice. Rebecca uses goatskin on Jacob’s arms to deceive Isaac. Jacob uses animal husbandry to create a goat flock for himself.
There are 230 references to sheep. Many again are regarding sacrifice, but throughout the prophets, sheep are symbolic of God’s people, those who follow Him. In Isaiah 53:6 we are “all like sheep who have wandered away” and need a Shepherd. In Jeremiah 23 “false shepherds destroyed the sheep by leading them into the mountains” making them wanderers (browsers) which is contrary to their following nature. In Ezekiel 34:20, God will rescue his sheep ‘from the world’ and then judge between the fat sheep, thin sheep, rams, and billy-goats.
“He is like a shepherd feeding his flock, gathering his lambs with his arm, carrying them against his chest, gently leading the mother sheep” (Isaiah 40:11).
God gave Yeshua, the Good Shepherd to His people. In his teachings Yeshua utilized sheep as a symbol for God’s people. There are those who follow him and those who follow deceiving shepherds or “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (Matthew 7:15). There are “the lost sheep of the House of Israel” who are without a shepherd (Matthew 15:24). There is the ‘one lost sheep’ that needs saving because “the value of man’s life is greater than a sheep” (Matthew 18:12-14). There are “sheep in other pens that need to be brought into the fold” (John 10:16). He sends his disciples out like “sheep among wolves” (Matthew 10:16). He tells Peter to “feed my sheep” (John 21:17). As the Good Shepherd, Yeshua “lays down his life’ for his sheep (John 10:11-18).
“Yeshua answered them … ‘My sheep listen to my voice, I recognize them, they follow me‘” (John 10:25-27).
One woman knew the correct animal in the above picture said: “It’s all in the ears.” In these last days, what kind of ears do you have?
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