“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Yeshua said to [His disciples], ‘Have you understood all these things?’ They said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord.’ Then He said to them, ‘Therefore, every scribe instructed concerning the Kingdom of Heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure new and old.'”– Matthew 13:47-52
“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes of milk is unskilled in the word of righteouness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Messiah (the ‘old’), let us go on to perfection (the ‘new’), not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of the resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.” – Hebrews 5:12 – 6:2
The fire in the Carmel Forest [in 2010] presented a vivid reminder of the first parable of the Sower: some trees survived while others around them were destroyed. There would be three primary reasons why the trees were burned up:
1) all things/people can die from such disasters;
2) some of the trees were not well-rooted, and so fell in the heat of the fire;
3) some looked well on the outside, but inwardly were rotten—had no inner strength to survive.
Those trees which withstood the blaze while all around others burned up obviously had much strength of ‘character’ that enabled them – by the grace and sovereignty of God – to stand victorious in the day of evil. Some have no ‘fruit’ left on them after the testing by fire, while others are still capable of producing more.
This last parable of the net (and of the learned teacher of the law) is similar to the second parable of the tares, in that Messiah teaches that in God’s Kingdom now, there will be a final separation of the bad from the good, and this will be done by angels at the end of the age.
In this final parable of this series which Yeshua taught to instruct His disciples in the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven/God, all kinds of fish from the sea – different people from every nation – the composite pearl – are gathered in by fishermen by the preaching of the gospel of the Kingdom of God and of His salvation. Yet, there are good fish, and also bad fish brought into the full fishing dragnet. Not until the end of the age will the final separation take place, and this will not be done by us, but by the angels of God.
When Yeshua had finished these parables, He asks His disciples if they understood everything. They, like us often times, said ‘Yes’, when they should have said more honestly and humbly, “Not really, Lord”. But taking them at their word, He says “therefore”, if you do understand these teachings of God’s ways and of righteousness, you should be able to discuss things both old and new, as an owner of treasure in your own house. Brethren, the Son of God has brought us into His Father’s house, which is also ours through Him! I could ask a little like Jesus did: “Do we really understand this?!”
What an honor and a privilege it is to be called children of God! What a responsibility we have as stewards of the mysteries and of His Kingdom! What a treasure we have – the Bible! Where our treasure is, there will our heart be. Is our treasure in this world, or is it in Messiah and the world to come?
In the Letter to the Hebrews, the writer exhorts us to grow up in our knowledge of the true faith. He speaks of principle things and of going on to new things. One of the elementary things of the faith, which this parable of the net and the parable of the tares make clear, is that there is a final judgment at the end of the age, and the wicked or bad will be separated forever from the righteous or good. There is everlasting judgment – whether to be with God, or whether to be cast out from His presence forever. To teach otherwise is not to be instructed concerning the Kingdom of Heaven/God, and/or to be immature in our faith.
The major responsibility of a pastor and teacher, according to the Word of God through the apostle Paul in the letter to the believers in Ephesus, is to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Messiah; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the Head – Messiah – from whom the whole body . . .causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love”.
It is my strong hope and prayer that some of you, at least, are benefitting from these teachings – as well as others – and that you can apply them in your own life as a believer generally, and as being able to help others know the thoughts and ways of our Lord and God, and not merely know laws and commandments, or stories. We want to know God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, and to be led by the Holy Spirit into all truth. Yet we must always remember that we are saved by grace through faith, and love covers a multitude of sins.
What are some lessons to learn from these parables of Jesus about God’s Kingdom on Earth at the present time?:
–The Father loves us. Jesus loves us. He tells us all things that the Father wants us to know, and gave His Spirit to teach us. We are His children; we are His friends; we are His brothers and sisters.
–With that secure love, the Lord wants us to fear God and not to take His love for granted. We show our faith and love for Him by obeying Him willingly out of a humble and thankful heart.
–These parables help keep us on the narrow road which leads to life, and to guard ourselves from certain doctrines which sound good, but are not necessarily so:
–once-saved-always-saved as a cliché (the Sower)
–Mankind in general, and Christians in particular, can succeed to make the world better before — or without — Jesus coming again. (Tares; Mustard seed; Leaven; Net)
–that the believers – the ‘wheat’, the ‘good seed’, the ‘good fish’ – will be taken before the end of the age (Tares; Net)
–universalism: everyone is eventually ‘saved’ (Sower; Tares; Net)
–There is no hell, no eternal conscious judgment. (Tares; Net)
–Every person is inherently ‘good’. (Tares)
–Where God is ruling, evil can not be there, whether in the world or within the church. (Tares; Mustard Tree; Net)
–We were saved because we looked for Jesus, and so earned God’s favor for our salvation. (Hidden Treasure; Pearl of great price)
–that God has ‘finished’ with Israel, His treasured people (Hidden Treasure)
–that somehow God has ‘lost control’ and is not able to ‘get it back’ (all of the parables)
–As we study and learn the truths that we have in the Scriptures, we will be able to bring out of such wealth which our Father has given us in Christ, things from the Old Testament and from the New. As Jesus told the apostle John in the Revelation, we can speak of things which were, which are, and which shall be. It is all about Jesus – the King of the Kingdom of God!
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, December 11, 2010, and reposted with permission.
This is part seven in a seven-part series of articles on the parables in Matthew 13.