“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
(Matthew 13:47-50 ESV)
Today we finish up the last of Jesus’ seven parables about the kingdom of heaven and once again Jesus uses a common activity of the day, fishing, to explain a spiritual truth. Today’s truth regards the judgment associated with God’s kingdom.
One of the methods used by fishermen back then was to cast a net into the sea. This net would trap fish of every kind. But this would include both good fish, which would be put into containers, and bad fish, which the fishermen threw away.
This, Jesus tells us, is a metaphor for the end of the age. By “end of the age” Jesus is referring to that time at which He will judge the dead [Revelation 20:11-15]. At this time angels will separate the evil from the righteous.
Until that time believers and non-believers will coexist on this earth, as the parable of the wheat and the tares taught us [Matthew 13:24-30]. But someday life on this earth will cease as we know it and God’s judgment will take place. Those who have not had their sins forgiven and are therefore not viewed as righteous by God the angels will throw into the fiery furnace.
The concept of hell is not easy to accept. But it is undeniably true. Jesus spoke about hell often; more often than He spoke about love. He spoke more about hell than anyone else in the Bible. Jesus spoke about hell not because He wanted to make people feel bad about themselves. He spoke about it because it is real and He does not want people to experience it.
God loves people more than they realize, and does not wish for them to suffer the eternal punishment that awaits those whose sins are not wiped clean. Therefore, He speaks in horrible terms about hell.
Notice that in hell there will be weeping. Some people in hell will realize they made a tragic and irreversible mistake by rejecting Jesus. There will also be gnashing of teeth, suggesting that some people in hell will harbor extreme malice towards God and will blame Him for their fate.
But the blame will lie solely with them. God takes no pleasure in the eternal death of the wicked nor does He want anyone to perish in hell [Ezekiel 18:23; 1 Timothy 2:3; 2 Peter 3:9]. Jesus wept over Israel because they would not believe in Him and be saved [Luke 19:41-42]. But, as we’ve learned, very few people will choose to take the path to heaven [Matthew 7:13-14].
Over and over Jesus warned about hell in the most graphic language, pleading with people to follow Him into eternal life (i.e. heaven). He described hell as destruction, a fire, and darkness [Matthew 7:13, 19, 25:30]. Hell will not be fun. It will be not be a party. It will be eternal horror where people live forever permanently separated from the only source of possible good [James 1:17].
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