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Saturday, 14 May 2005

CHRIST JUDGES NATIONS ON THEIR TREATMENT OF THE NEEDY

A Bible Study Lesson on Economic Justice

By Jim Jordal

CONTENT: READ ALOUD MATT. 25:31-46.

BACKGROUND:

This judgment is not the same as the Great White Throne judgment referred to in Rev. 20:11-15, since this one occurs at the beginning of Christ's millennial kingdom when He returns to set up His rule. Some believe that what is being judged is Gentile nations based upon their treatment of Israel, while others spread the net more widely to include all nations being judged on their treatment of the poor and oppressed of society. However, the message seems clear that in order to participate fully in Christ's kingdom nations must deal justly with the poor and marginalized of the earth, since by so doing they also serve and obey Christ.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION:

  1. At what period in time does this action take place, and what is the occasion? (see 25:31-32))
  2. Upon what criteria does Christ separate the sheep and goat peoples?
  3. What is the reward for the sheep people on Christ’s right hand?
  4. Did the caring behavior of the sheep make them righteous, or did they behave as they did because they were righteous? (v. 37)
  5. If they behaved as they did because they were righteous, then what does that say to those of us who profess righteousness, concerning our behavior toward the less fortunate of society?
  6. What nations in the modern world do you see coming closest to what sheep are to do? Who seems furthest from this goal?
  7. Verse 46 declares everlasting punishment to those goats refusing aid to the needy, and life eternal to the sheep who answered Christ’s call. How then can so many Christians discount the need for such obedient action?
  8. In what ways could our church best begin to implement these requirements of Christ?

PRINCIPLES FOR CONSIDERATION:

  1. National performance regarding economic justice for the needy does make a difference to Christ.
  2. Posturing, platitudes, and promises are not sufficient: Action is required.
  3. Some nations do the right thing even if they do not realize it.
  4. Others think they do Christ's will when they do not.
  5. This is not a matter of individual grace. This is national obedience to God's will.

REFERENCES:

Matt. 19:23-30; Ezek. 34:16-27; James 2:1-9; Isa. 58:6-7; Isa. 1:11-17; Amos 8:4-5; Mal. 3:5.

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