Exodus 19:1-9 (NRSV)
Then Moses went up to God; the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the Israelites: You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation.”
Matthew 25:31-46 (NRSV)
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the 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 people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’
Devotion – The Great Judgement
In the Old Testament God has favored a special people, Israel. He has just delivered them out of the land of Egypt to the wilderness of Sinai and is about to offer them the Ten Commandments. He calls Moses and offers a Covenant: if you follow my rules (eventually numerous and governing much of their daily existence), then you shall be a special and holy people favored by me.
In the New Testament, Jesus seems to propose a new Covenant: if you do unto others – whether in a good or bad way, so shall you be deemed to have behaved toward Jesus and God. Jesus has said, “that anyone who loves me, will obey my teaching.”
Doesn’t this mean that, in the overall moral scheme of life, it is our behavior toward others by which we make ourselves into the good sheep or those deplorable goats? God has made the rules – the ethic – but it is up to us as individuals to try to live up to the teachings of Jesus, which emphasize loving our neighbor as ourselves. There are many times in our lives when we fail to be good Christians but pray for guidance to strive to do better. When we open our ears to hear what the Spirit is saying, we allow our hearts to be encouraged, thereby allowing the Holy Spirit to work within us.
Our father, please give me a humble heart to yield to your instructions and to listen to your Word. Help me to obey you and listen for the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Let me follow where you lead and be willing to receive your blessings. Amen.