Do goats have big teeth, with long fangs and clawed paws?
No. A goat is not a wolf. In fact, goats are quite harmless.
Do goats have secret agendas, with sly plans and smooth tongues?
No. A goat is not a fox. Again, goats are quite harmless.
But if goats are so harmless, why are they assigned their portion in the “eternal fire” under “eternal punishment” (Matthew 25:41, 46)? Why are they punished so painfully and unendingly?
According to Jesus, it is not due to anything that the goats did.
Now certainly, we would understand the situation better, if the goats had done things worthy of death. Murder, adultery, theft—these are deeds worthy of hell, and certainly they are, as Jesus Himself tells us in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:21ff). In the judgment, Jesus will say to many, “Depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matthew 7:23). There, it is simple. If we do lawless deeds, we are barred from the kingdom of heaven, and banished into outer darkness. Only those doing the will of the Father enter in (v. 23)—and thankfully, the empowering to do His will is a gift of grace, given to every true believer through the blood of the eternal covenant (Hebrews 13:20-21).
Again, let’s be clear. If you do bad things, you go to a bad place. But the goats did nothing.
Wolves act violently. Foxes speak deceitfully. But the goats—they do nothing.
It is this sin of omission that will catch many by surprise someday.
Can you hear the goats talking?
“Oh, he never hurt anyone!”
“She would never hurt a flea!”
Goats—all of them. (Incidentally, true love often hurts, but it never wrongs.)
Can you hear Jesus talking?
“Then He will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’
“Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’
“Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:41-46).
The will of God must be done. It is what the goats leave undone that will someday undo them.