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Why did Jesus compare believers and non-believers to sheep and goats?

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.” Matthew 25:31-33

            In Jesus’ parable about heaven and hell, he wanted to give a black and white sort of division between believers and non-believers.  He used an image that most people of that time would understand.  Sheep and goats seem very similar (they have four legs, stink and they’re noisy), but they have very different needs.  Goats are more curious while sheep respect fencing and generally stay with the flock.  They eat some similar food but have different nutritional needs.  Goats eat whatever is in front of them and sheep love grass and clover.  Goats have horns and can hurt the sheep.

            All this helps us understand that in the last days, the separation of believers and non-believers is based on their nature and needs.  Believers need Jesus.  Non-believers don’t and only need themselves.  When someone gives their life to Christ, they become a new creature, with a new identity.  It’s like a goat becoming a sheep.  Right now, believers and non-believers live together.  One day those identities will be separated forever.