by Charles E. Harrel
Bible-land shepherds often tended combined flocks, but they knew it was necessary to separate the sheep from the goats at particular times. The goats were headstrong, rambunctious, and preferred grazing the rocky foothills throughout the day. The sheep, however, needed specific times for rest and favored feeding in the grassy pastures.
Shepherds divided their flocks with a staff by tapping the sheep on the right side and the goats on the left. All the sheep would gather around the shepherd’s right hand, while the goats moved to the left. The sheep found food and relaxation, while the goats continued to clamber around restlessly.
A master Shepherd made this comment: “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’” (Matt. 25:31-34 nkjv).
With this word picture, Jesus portrays a scene from the final judgment. The righteous inherit a kingdom filled with eternal rest, blessed by the right hand of promise. Since the left hand carries no such promise or blessing, the unrighteous depart to a kingdom of everlasting turmoil without rest. There will be just one tap–on the right or the left. However, the choice is ours to make now.