QUESTION: Matt. 25:31. How do you see this separating actually taking place and over how long of a period of time? 9 billion people, 5 minutes each = mega waking hours.
First, we should not suppose that there will not be a drastic population reduction when the horses of the Apocalypse are unleashed. According to Revelation fully one-quarter of mankind will be cut down to Hades. The good news for them is that a resurrection is possible.
But following the sword, famine and pestilence that are destined to come about, the judgment phase will last some three and a half years —not coincidently, the same length of time as Jesus’ earthly ministry. Immediately prior to that forty two-month period, those who are called into the Kingdom are judged. And it is at that point, after the judgment is accomplished, that those approved become the brothers of Christ.
In context, the illustration of the separation of the sheep and goats was the very last thing Jesus related in response to the apostles’ question regarding “when will these things be?” Leading up to his parable regarding the treatment of those whom Jesus calls his brothers, Christ spoke about the faithful and discreet slave who would be appointed over all of his belongings as a reward for his having actually been faithful to his original appointment and also how the wise and foolish virgins would part ways, and how the slaves entrusted with the master’s money would be called to account.
The series of illustrations deal with the ultimate disposition of the called ones —some being approved and others rejected. What is noteworthy is that Jesus does not refer to the called ones as his brothers. On the contrary, they are referred to as slaves. Indeed, the apostle Paul frequently referred to himself and his brothers as slaves of Jesus —not his brothers. And Jesus himself says that the purpose of the scroll of Revelation is to show his slaves the things that must shortly take place.
Needless to say, there is a significant difference in status between being someone’s slave and being their brother. The brothers of Jesus have a different relationship with him than those who are designated as his slaves; although, obviously, they are the same individuals. What changes?
Given the fact that in the series of illustrations already mentioned the brothers of Christ only come into consideration after the slaves are judged, the brothers are those who are received into the Kingdom.
Jesus referred to this phenomenon as well in his illustration of the wheat and the weeds —when the righteous will shine as brightly as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father —Jesus’ Father.
Also, considering that the slave appointed to feed his master’s household is called to account, this signifies the end of the Christian era —the end of the worldwide teaching and disciple-making work. That is why when the master arrives it will no longer be necessary for the slave to provide food at the proper time.
Although persons who are anointed by holy spirit are said to be adopted by Jehovah, the adoption is a process. As already noted, some adoptees do not pan out.They do not become full-fledged sons of God, nor brothers of Jesus. But prior to the death of each adopted one God must determine if they have successfully run the course to the finish. If so, then they are sealed. Apparently, immediately before his death the apostle Paul received some sort of confirmation that he had been sealed. That is why he wrote in his second letter to Timothy: “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my releasing is imminent. I have fought the fine fight, I have run the race to the finish, I have observed the faith. From this time on, there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me as a reward in that day, yet not to me only, but also to all those who have loved his manifestation.”
According to the seventh chapter of Revelation a final sealing takes place of the remaining ones of the 144,000. Their sealing results in their becoming the brothers of Christ —sons of God. And it is at that point that the revealing of the sons of God will take place. This is the phenomenon about which Paul wrote in the 8th chapter of Romans, saying: “For the creation is waiting with eager expectation for the revealing of the sons of God.” As Paul wrote in context, the sons are heirs of God, but joint heirs with Christ —making them Christ’s brothers.
Obviously, the “creation” that is in eager expectation of the future revelation of the sons of God does not mean all creation. Most people do not wish to be ruled over by God or Jesus or anyone whom they appoint. Only a small portion of “creation” are receptive to the Kingdom and hope to enjoy the glorious freedom of the children of God here on earth. That is why Jesus said that the road leading off to life is narrow and few are the ones finding it.
So, the revealing of the sons of God is in relation to those who are in eager expectation of the coming of the Kingdom. That means they have knowledge and faith prior to the coming of Christ. Those who recognize the sealed ones as God’s sons (brothers of Christ) and who support them in their tribulation will be rewarded with salvation. Those who do not recognize the sons of God become guilty of having common cause with the killers of the sons of God.
To be sure, all of the brothers of Christ on earth after the parousia will be killed. Although Jehovah is often accused of being a bloodthirsty bully, why should God not avenge the murder of thousands of his sons? The fact is, the appearance of the sealed sons of God on earth draws the world into accountability before God. That is what Jesus was illustrating when he said the following: “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will put the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.”