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The Parables of Jesus Part 11
Matthew 13:47-52; Hebrews 10:26-31 - What type of fish are you? Are you prepared for the judgment of the Living God?
““Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind; and when it was filled, they drew it up on the beach; and they sat down and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away. So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
“Have you understood all these things?” They *said to Him, “Yes.” And Jesus said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old.””
Matthew 13:47-52 NASB1995
The final parable in the long chapter of parables in Matthew 13 hearkens back to the parable of the wheat and the tares and teaches the same lesson. Jesus talks about the kingdom of heaven being like a dragnet cast into the sea and gathering fish of every kind. The dragnet is brought up on the beach and the fishermen gather the good fish into containers and throw the bad fish away. Jesus goes on to say that this is what will happen at the end of the age: Angels will come forth and pull out the wicked from the righteous and throw the wicked into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Precept Austin cites John MacArthur on this compelling vision of all types of “fish” gathered in the dragnet. We are all in the dragnet whether we believe in Him or not; most spend their time oblivious to the things of eternity:
During the present era, which is the church age, God permits unbelief and unrighteousness. But the time is coming when His toleration will end and His judgment begins. The first phase of judgment will be the separation of the wicked from among the righteous, the tares from among the wheat. The dragnet of God’s judgment moves silently through the sea of mankind and draws all men to the shores of eternity for final separation to their ultimate destiny—believers to eternal life and unbelievers to eternal damnation.
Men move about within that net as if they were forever free. It may touch them from time to time, as it were, startling them. But they quickly swim away, thinking they have escaped, not realizing they are completely and inescapably encompassed in God’s sovereign plan. The invisible web of God’s judgment encroaches on every human being just as that of the dragnet encroaches on the fish. Most men do not perceive the kingdom, and they do not see God working in the world. They may be briefly moved by the grace of the gospel or frightened by the threat of judgment; but they soon return to their old ways of thinking and living, oblivious to the things of eternity. But when man’s day is over and Christ returns to set up His glorious kingdom, then judgment will come. (See Matthew Commentary)
Yet again in the Gospels, Jesus talks about Hell, the place of eternal destiny for those who do not believe. The book of Hebrews warns us about this judgment:
“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
Hebrews 10:26-31 NASB1995
So I’m not trying to imitate of one of those “fire and brimstone” preachers who thunderously warns of the judgment to come (or am I? Hmmm - it does sound that way). This judgment is real, however, I believe in it and and it IS coming for everyone. This is one of the biggest stumbling blocks for non-believers and for many Christians (it was for me for a long time) - the idea that God would eternally condemn people to suffering in Hell for not repenting of their sins and turning to Jesus in this short, mortal life. Many denominations and preachers have turned to the idea of annihilationism to get away from the terror - that the souls of those who are condemned are destroyed. The passages in Hebrews (above) have been used to support the idea of consummation of the adversaries. But this is a consuming fire that is eternal. Once again, Precept Austin has noted superb commentary on this issue by John MacArthur:
Perhaps no doctrine is harder to accept emotionally than the doctrine of hell. Yet it is too clear and too often mentioned in Scripture either to deny or to ignore. Jesus spoke more of hell than any of the prophets or apostles did—perhaps for the reason that its horrible truth would be all but impossible to accept had not the Son of God Himself absolutely affirmed it. It had special emphasis in Jesus’ teaching from the beginning to the end of His earthly ministry. He said more about hell than about love. More than all other teachers in the Bible combined, He warned men of hell, promising no escape for those who refused His gracious, loving offer of salvation.
When an interviewer asked a young punk rock singer what she was looking forward to at the end of her career, she replied, “Death. I’m looking forward to death.” When asked why, she said, “I want to go to hell, because hell will be fun.” Such deception is tragic beyond words. Nothing could less describe hell than fun. The human mind cannot begin to conceive of the eternal horror that is hell. Even the biblical figures related to hell are only suggestive, because the finite mind cannot comprehend infinite pain and torment any more than it can comprehend infinite joy and bliss.
Sorry to wake everybody up today, but Christianity is anything but a comfortable and cozy belief, heard about on Sunday and forgotten about for the rest of the week. Hell is not the funny place in the Far Side cartoons. It is not a big gathering of unrepentant sinners (the self-described “fun” people) who sit around and drink beer in a large hall and revel in the sins they committed and sneer at God. It is a place of both unremitting darkness and consuming fire. It was initially meant for Satan and his angels, but many people happily choose to go down the path to hell. In fact, they brag about it in this day and age.
“It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of a living God” (from Hebrews, above). God is love but He is also the God of judgment. I never recall hearing about hell once during the thirteen years that we attended a mainstream church; I’m not sure I hear about it very much now, even though our church is centered on the cross. Thinking about this fate for others is an urgent call to humility, to repentance, and to evangelize and get people to be the right kind of fish.
Jesus ends His parable preaching in Matthew 13 by asking His Disciples if they understand what He said. They reply “Yes”, so He takes them at their word and tells them that they are scribes and are like the head of a household, who brings out treasures old and new for others to understand. I’m turning to Enduring Word for some commentary on this passage:
Every scribe: Jesus used the term here simply to describe a teacher. “The scribes amongst the Jews were not only clerks, that were employed in writing, but teachers of the law; such a one was Ezra (Ezra 7:6).” (Matthew Poole)
The main idea is that the disciples – who had just claimed to understand what Jesus taught – are now responsible to bring forth their understanding to others, as if they were distributing from the storehouse of their wisdom and understanding. This storehouse contains things new and old.
“After you have been instructed by me, you have the knowledge, not only of the things you used to know, but of things you never knew before, and even the knowledge which you had before is illuminated by what I have told to you.” (William Barclay)
“A small degree of knowledge is not sufficient for a preacher of the Gospel. The sacred writings should be his treasure, and he should properly understand them… his knowledge consists in being well instructed in the things concerning the kingdom of heaven, and the art of conducting men thither.” (Adam Clarke)
“Ministers of the gospel should not be novices, 1 Timothy 3:6, raw and ignorant men; but men mighty in the Scriptures, well acquainted with the writings of the Old and New Testament, and the sense of them; men that have a stock of spiritual knowledge, able readily to speak a word to the weary, and to speak to men and women’s particular cases and questions.” (Matthew Poole)
I am not worthy of being described as a scribe yet, but I am certainly learning and am happy to share what I glean from Scripture in these devotionals and the many commentaries that I read. Comments are always welcome.
My next devotional examines the parable of the Lost Sheep, found in Matthew 18:12-14 and Luke 15: 3-7.
Heaven on Wheels Daily Prayer:
Dear Lord - I pray that I can find more fish that can become good before Your eternal judgement comes to pass in this world. I am praying for the many lost souls that they can realize the true path in Jesus. Amen
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. lockman.org
Commentary from Enduring Word from David Guzik is used with written permission.
The personal testimony from Bruce Hurt at Precept Austin is found Here.