"Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction, that he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man. He [the Lord] keepeth back his [man’s] soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword. He is chastened also with pain upon his bed, and the multitude of his bones with strong pain; so that his life abhorreth bread, and his soul dainty meat. His flesh is consumed away, that it cannot be seen; and his bones that were not seen stick out. Yea, his soul draweth nigh to the grave, and his life to the destroyers. [Thus describing the miserable condition of humankind] If there be a messenger [the Christ, the Messenger of the new covenant] with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to show unto man his uprightness, then he [the Lord] is gracious unto him [man], and saith, Deliver him from going down to the grave [thus showing that not all are to be sent into death. Then man is represented as saying]: I have found a ransom. [The result then is pictured in the next phrase when the Prophet says concerning man:] His flesh shall be fresher than a child’s; he shall return to the days of his youth.”—Job 33:16-25.
PUNISHMENT OF THE WICKED
The Scriptures clearly indicate that some stubborn, proud, disobedient ones will refuse to hear the word of the Lord and to obey his righteous laws. The loving kindness of the Lord is manifested when his long-suffering is shown in the fact that he does not immediately destroy all such, but gives each one a full and fair opportunity, the Prophet showing that each one shall have at least a hundred years of trial; and if at the end of that time he is persistent in disobeying the Lord, he shall be counted accursed and cut off in everlasting destruction. (Isaiah 65:20) St. Peter corroborated this in his statement concerning restoration times, saying: “It shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people".—Acts 3:23.
Again the testimony of Jesus is to the effect that at the beginning of his reign the nations and peoples shall be gathered before him in the sense that they will be instructed concerning his reign. In parabolic phrase he pictures them being separated as sheep are separated from goats. A goat is an animal that is unruly, disobedient. It refuses to stay in the pasture where it is placed, but insists on getting outside and destroying things where it has no business. The goat, therefore, pictures an unruly or disobedient class. Sheep are docile, submissive, and in Oriental countries they are led by the shepherd. They know his voice and follow him. The Lord used this to illustrate the ones who are obedient to him. The goats, therefore, picture the wicked class; and concerning them the Lord said: “These shall go into everlasting punishment”; whereas the sheep picture the obedient class, and of them he says that they shall go into everlasting life.—Matthew 25:41-46.