Sunday, November 04, 2012

The sheep and the goats: Where have we heard that before?

In recent posts I have looked at times when Jesus quoted Old Testament passages about the LORD in reference to himself. Here is another one that deserves consideration: 
As for you, my flock, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: ‘I will judge between one sheep and another, and between rams and goats.’ (Ezekiel 34:17). 
Compare this to what Jesus taught about the last day, referring to himself here, as at other times, as "the Son of Man": 
When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory. And all nations shall be gathered before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates his sheep from the goats. (Matthew 25:31-32)
Ezekiel’s prophecy is lengthy; it is well worth reading all of Ezekiel 34 in this context. It ends with “David” (King Messiah) ruling over the people. In Ezekiel’s prophecy, "David" the Messiah may simply be God's right hand: when God says “I do this”, the Messiah is actually the one through whom God works. The distinction is not always clear between God's actions and the Messiah's.

Here again, when Jesus refers back to that prophecy, he places himself as the judge -- and as the only one in all of human history in that position.Plainly enough, Jesus' claim to be the one who, at the end of history, will judge the world is a claim to uniqueness. But it goes beyond mere uniqueness. In the passage Jesus refers to as background -- a passage which would have been known to those who originally heard him -- it is the LORD -- God himself -- who is said to be the judge. Again, to say the least, the distinction is not always clear between God's actions and the Messiah's.

1 comment:

Martin LaBar said...

I think the Trinity is beyond our understanding.