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What the Bible says about Separation of Sheep from Goats
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Ezekiel 20:37-38

Notice that the sheep pass under the rod. Besides being an instrument of both offense and defense—the rod was, in effect, a two-foot club—it also functioned as a tool, under which the sheep passed. What does this picture? First of all, it pictures counting. The shepherd would count the sheep in his flock to make sure they were all present and accounted for.

It pictures something else too. As the sheep passed under the rod—a symbol of the Word of God—they would undergo a close scrutiny. The shepherd would run his rod backward or across the grain, as it were, of the wool. The rod separated the wool, allowing the shepherd to look down onto the sheep's skin. He was then able to see both the quality of the skin and of the wool.

God is illustrating that by means of His rod, He is giving us careful, close scrutiny for two reasons: One, it gives Him the opportunity to evaluate the quality of His sheep. Two, it provides a means of separation. Quality and separation are the two reasons for His scrutiny of us.

Recall Matthew 25 and the separation of the sheep and the goats. The rod aids in identifying or making sure of possession. Sheep's ears were often bored through or distinctively notched as a mark of identification. Sometimes, since the shepherds could not always see that identifying mark due to several flocks being mixed together in the pasture, they would make the sheep pass under the rod. When they did, the shepherd would flip back the ear to see the mark of possession. Again, it also gave them a chance to evaluate and determine the relative health and quality of that sheep.

We are all under the rod right now. Now is the time of our judgment (I Peter 4:17), and we are under evaluation to determine to whom we really belong: God or Satan. Who is our shepherd? The rod is a vitally important instrument for a shepherd. No good shepherd would be without one.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Psalm 23 (Part 3)

Luke 6:44-45

Sanctification will be seen and heard "for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks." If the heart has been impregnated by the Spirit of God, the mouth will begin to speak like God does! A person's works produce the fruits, and the heart then is known by what it produces.

This produces a peculiar effect within the converted person. While good fruit is showing, the converted person sees himself thoroughly encompassed by weakness. For instance, whenever Moses came down from the mount, after being with God, his face radiated the reflected glory of God. But he was not aware of it that his face was glowing!

There is a New Testament equivalent of this in Matthew 25. In the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, Jesus separates the sheep on one side and the goats on the other. What do the sheep say to their lord and master? "When did we feed you? When did we clothe you?" They were not aware that they were producing the right fruit and reflecting God's glory in their lives.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part Nine)

Titus 1:10-16

The New King James titles this section "The Elder's Task." It covers instructions to the ministry in their job to protect the church from false teachers. In this section is the famous verse 12, "Cretans are always liars," and then he talks about those who are preaching Jewish fables and teaching the commandments of men.

Paul is giving general guidelines to Titus, the pastor on Crete, to help him to read the motives of the people who were affecting the congregation. One might say he was helping Titus to read their fruit. Does not scripture say, "You will know them by their fruits?" This is one of Christ's prime teachings in the Sermon on the Mount so that we would know the wolves that come among the flock. Paul is doing this same with Titus except putting it into different words.

He is telling the ministry that they have to get inside the heads of the people to sense the type of people that they are. Ministers have to be able to "read their minds" by observing what they say and do. This is not a Gestapo action, but an exercise to protect the flock. Among a minister's primary jobs is to ensure that no one has entered the flock who does not belong there, and to usher him out, if need be, to protect the rest of flock.

Oftentimes, goats come in among the sheep, and the goats need to be chased off due to their contrary influence on the sheep. Matthew 25 is clear about where the sheep end up, and where the goats end up.

Paul is instructing Titus in how to do his job—how to protect the flock of which he was made leader.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Is God in All Our Thoughts?


 




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