Matt 13:48                                         The Dragnet                                     12/9/2007      ßà   

 

 

 

 

#1.       The Harvest on the Last Day (Matt 13:41,49,42,50)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#2.       The Judgment on the Last Day (Matt 13:48, Gen 15:16, Matt 19:28)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#3.       Vessels (Matt 13:48, Rom 9:22-23, 1Cor 15:51-58, 1Thes 4:13-18, John 5:28-29)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Gospel According to Matthew, Matt 13:47 (2X). We have come to parable number 7 in this great chapter, and we wonder how the Lord Jesus is going to end this series of eight parables. In the first two parables the Lord showed us that He is the man who sowed good seed in His field, and He knows where the seed falls. Both parables show us that God is sovereign, for Christ knows which soil is the good soil, and where He sows, and Christ knows which seeds He sows and which the Devil has sown. In the third and in the fourth parable the Lord showed us the germination and growth of the church, which initially starts very small, but then grows into something very large, and because of men’s pride and greed the church begins to harbor evil doctrines which shall lead many astray. In this prophecy we see God’s sovereignty in projecting the path that His church will take in history, and how it in the end becomes like Babylon. In the fifth and in the sixth parable the Lord showed us what was required of Him to bring the church into existence. It cost Him everything that He had, but in the process He purchased a Bride who will be with Him forever. Here we see God’s sovereignty in choosing the people who are representing the rich treasure, or the priceless pearl that He bought. Now we come to parable number 7, and here we will see what the nature is of this Bride that the Lord bought for Himself. We read in Matt 13:47-50,

Mt 13:47-49  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind:           Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.            So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just,

Mt 13:50  And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Is this not a frightening parable that the Lord Jesus told us here? It prophesies to us:

In verse 49 where we read “The end of the world”, the Greek text says actually, “the end of the age”, referring to the end of the NT era. It does not mean that there will be a Jewish age coming after this church age, for the NT is abundantly clear that God is finished with the nation of Israel as a special people before God. Moreover, this age is called “the last days”, and there are no more last days coming after these last days have expired. And so, when we read this parable, we read of the judgment process that occurs when the end of the world has come. And the picture that Christ uses in this parable is that of a dragnet. Therefore the title of this sermon is, The Dragnet (2X), for it refers not to any arbitrary dragnet, but to the specific dragnet that the Lord uses to gather His Bride, the church. This also is one of the parables which the Lord Jesus taught His disciples in private, away from the multitude, and we want to know why? We know for a certainty that the Lord Jesus was not afraid to tell the multitudes that Hell is awaiting all the wicked. Certainly, the Lord Jesus was not afraid to tell the multitudes that most of them were on the way to Hell. He told them this several times. But then, why did the Lord Jesus tell this parable in private to the disciples, as if these words are only destined to be heard by the saints? And so, what else is there in this parable? What is the first thing we always do when we read a text of Scripture? We pray that God will guide our understanding, and then we ask ourselves: “What did God say?” Here is a practical principle: To understand a passage in the Bible, quite often it is a good idea if we start out at the end, and then we work our way toward the beginning of the passage. Now, let us apply this principle to this parable of the dragnet:

#1.       The Harvest on the Last Day (Matt 13:41,49,42,50)

The wicked are separated from the just, and the wicked are judged for all they have done on the earth and they are cast into Hell. Now we recognize that this parable consists of two parts. Verses 49 and 50 are an explanation of verses 47 and 48, much like the second half of the parable of the wheat and the tares is an explanation of the first half. In fact, there is a great similarity between the ending of both of these parables. Let’s look at the ending of these two parables. We read of the ending of the parable of the wheat and the tares in Matt 13:41 (2X) where we read,

Mt 13:41  The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;

Now, is this not very similar to the ending of the parable of the dragnet? We read in Matt 13:49 (2X), “So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just”. In both verses the angels are called to do the separation. In both verses it is the wicked that shall be gathered or separated from the righteous. The next two verses are even more remarkable. We read in the parable of the wheat and the tares in Matt 13:42, “And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth”. The Greek text says not a furnace of fire, but the furnace of fire. There is only one furnace of fire in view, which is Hell. And we read in the parable of the dragnet in Matt 13:50, “And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth”. What is the reason why God has written the same words twice? God wants us to connect these two parables. It is as if God is saying, “Look at these two parables, they are complementing one another; the principles applied to the one also apply to the other. In fact, the sovereignty of God in salvation, which is so powerfully displayed in the parable of the wheat and the tares, is again powerfully on display in this parable of the dragnet. The seeds of the wheat and tares are wheat and tares from the beginning. And the good and bad sea creatures are good and bad sea creatures from their conception. Now, move up one verse, to Matt 13:48, and what do we see here?

Mt 13:48  Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.

This is the process of separation! The net was full, they drew it to shore, they separated the good from the bad, and then the Judgment followed. Immediately we can raise three questions: Who are these good fish and bad fish that they caught in the net representing? And who are “they” who are dragging the net? Paraphrased the Lord Jesus says: “Look in the parable of the wheat and the tares. In Matt 13:48 the good fish are the same as the good seed, they are the children of the kingdom; and the bad fish are the same as the tares, they are the children of the wicked one, the Devil”. And who are dragging the net? The Lord says that He shall send forth His angels to do this job. The next question: Is this process of separation only for that portion of the sea where they threw in the net? We already know the answer. Of course, it is the end of the world, it is the end of this age! Judgment day has come. The parable of the dragnet is only a picture of this process of separation, but it is going to be applied to the entire world. Now, move up one verse to Matt 13:47, and what do we see here?  We see the net and the sea! Matt 13:47, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind”. Well, this verse says that the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, is gathered together like a fishnet that was thrown into the sea, and it gathered all kinds of sea creatures. But the process of separation was not started until this net was full. So, what does this mean, and what would the sea represent? Put a sticker here in Matt 13, for we will return to this passage, and please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of Isaiah, Isa 57:20 (2X).

Paraphrased the Lord Jesus says: Look in the parable of the wheat and the tares. “The sea” is representing the world, like in the parable of the wheat and the tares “the field” is the world. It is this sin cursed world. It is the kingdom of Satan, because he is the prince of the power of the air. He rules over the hearts of man, because every person initially coming into this world is by nature a slave of sin and of Satan. Can we have confirmation from other parts of the Bible that the sea represents the kingdom of Satan? When we turn to Isa 57:20, we read there, “But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt”. The mire and dirt here represent the filth of sin. The wicked have no rest in this life or in the life hereafter. They will be continually plagued by their sins and by the consequences of their sins. Please turn in your Bibles to the Revelation of Jesus Christ, Rev 12:3 (2X). God knows that there are no physical dragons in this world, but in the Bible Satan, who is a spirit, is often portrayed as a dragon, sometimes called Leviathan. God gave us this picture of Satan to let us know that we can never take on Satan, and we can never outsmart Satan. Only Christ, who is God, is able to take on Satan. Here in Rev 12:3 we read,

Re 12:3  And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.

God portrayed Satan so large that he could draw the third part of the stars of heaven with him to the earth. Now that is very big. Can anyone be so arrogant to think by himself take on Satan? But look at how God describes him: as a red dragon with seven heads and ten horns. Please turn one page to your right to Rev 13:1 (2X), and there we see an image of Satan. We read in Rev 13:1,

Re 13:1 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.

This is a picture of Antichrist, who is the embodiment of Satan in human flesh. Satan is a spirit, and thus he needs a human body to perform his evil acts upon mankind. In fact, since he wants to exercise his dominion over the entire world he needs many human bodies who are indwelt by his fellow fallen angels. But notice where Antichrist rises from: out of the sea. This is the sea of wicked mankind that the Isaiah describes as “the troubled sea”. The Lord Jesus said in Matt 4:19: “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men”.  Therefore the fish in the sea typify people in the world. That is why we read many times both in the OT and in the NT about fishing ships that sail through the sea. These ships represent churches or other groups of people who are evangelizing the world; they have become fishers of men. Please turn again to the Gospel According to Matthew, Matt 13:47 (2X). What would the net represent? Let us now consider the characteristics of this net. Matt 13:47, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind”. There are three different words for “net” used in the NT, but the Greek word that is used in this verse refers to a dragnet. What is a dragnet? It is a net that reaches from the surface to the bottom, and scrapes the bottom of the sea, and it is very wide, so that two ships would drag it from either end. Perhaps if the net is very large you would place one or more additional ships in between the two at the ends. And so, this dragnet catches everything that is in its way. That is why the Lord says in verse 47 that it “gathered of every kind”. In the spiritual dimension we understand that this net gathered of “every kind of people”. In other words, the nature of the net in this parable is such that every human being on earth is caught in this net. There is no escape out of this net. And so, what could this net represent? It could not represent anything else than Death. And what did they do to every person who was caught in this net? They were judged whether they were good or bad. God says in Heb 9:27, “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment”. And so, this is the purpose of the dragnet to gather out of all mankind those whom the Lord chose to belong to Him, and to take us to be with Him into the NH&NE where only righteousness dwells. Physical death of the body is the stepping stone for every human being to step out of this life into eternity. Immediately after this body dies the saints will be with Christ in heaven, awaiting the inauguration of the NH&NE on the last day. But the judgment of the unsaved will take place only after every human being has been taken out of this life, and then all the unsaved shall stand before the judgment throne of Christ.

#2.       The Judgment on the Last Day (Matt 13:48, Gen 15:16, Matt 19:28)

Let us now go on to the next verse, Matt 13:48, where we read,

Mt 13:48  Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.

Actually the word “full” in this verse should have been translated “fulfilled”, which perfectly fit the spiritual meaning of this parable. When the entire task of this dragnet has been fulfilled, the judgment process can begin. But actually the word “full” that the KJ translators chose in this place is not so bad, for it conveys the meaning that God will judge the world when the sins of wicked mankind is “full”. Please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of Genesis, Gen 15:16 (2X). It reminds us of a promise to Abram that his descendants would come out of Egypt and occupy the land of Canaan, and thereby eliminate the Canaanites. This was God’s way of bringing judgment on the Canaanites for their idolatry. But God disclosed to Abram that this judgment on the Canaanites would take place hundreds of years in the future, and God gave the reasons for this postponement of Justice. God said in Gen 15:16, “But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full”. The iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full. Even though God knew the wickedness of the Amorites, and even though He knew what sins they would commit, God would not wipe them out immediately, for He is a just God. He will wait until the sins have actually been committed, and then He will bring judgment. Likewise in the last days, when the wickedness of the church shall increase, God will not bring judgment on the church because His calendar says it is time, or because God will have become impatient with the sins of the world. The world has reveled in sin from the beginning, and so this is nothing new. But God will bring judgment when the iniquity of the church is full. God will not bring judgment on faithful churches, because He is a righteous God. But woe unto those churches who imitate one another in false doctrines that are abominations to God. And this is coming to pass in many churches of our time. Please turn again to the Gospel According to Matthew, Matt 13:48 (2X). We should not lose track of the fact that we are in this parable of the dragnet. We read in Matt 13:48, “Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down”. This seems a little odd, for angels are spirits who do not need to sit down and rest. Angels do not have a derriere to sit down. When we examine all the places where this Greek word that has been translated “sat down” is used, we see that it always is used in the spiritual sense, for example of those who sit in judgment. For example, the Lord Jesus said to James and John in Matt 19:28,

Mt 19:28  And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Here the same word has twice been translated “sit”, where it refers to sitting in judgment. We should not imagine that Christ will actually sit on a throne when He will judge the nations. This is a description of an earthly judge sitting in judgment. But in the life hereafter God is not limited to earthly arrangements, for it is a little hard to see how Christ would sit on a literal throne, and a multitude of twelve billion people standing before His throne, which would each one be judged for each individual sin they have committed in their entire life, even as little as an idle word. But here in Matt 13:48 it is the angels who sit down and participate in the judgment process. And in 1Cor 6:2-3 God says also that the saints shall judge the world. But since Christ is the Judge, and since we as well as the angels shall participate in the judgment process where even each idle word shall be brought into judgment, we can see that this is going to be a court that is quite a bit different from what we are familiar with here on this earth. Let us now continue in Matt 13:48, and there we read “they gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away”. Who are the good and who are the bad?

Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Ephesians, Eph 1:1 (2X). We will first start with who are the bad. We must first come to grips with the question to whom this letter to the Ephesians was written. Most people do not read the first line of the Epistles. But God says here in Eph 1:1,

Eph 1:1 “To the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus”.

And so, this is what we should keep in mind. This epistle was written to the saints at Ephesus and to the faithful in Christ Jesus throughout the whole world, and that includes us, here in Bellflower. Please turn now to the second chapter of this Epistle, Eph 2:1 (2X). And there we read,

Eph 2:1 ¶  And you (hath he quickened), who were dead in trespasses and sins;

Eph 2:2  Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

Eph 2:3  Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

God says in verse 1, “And you, whom He has made alive, were dead in trespasses and sins”. We all were as dead corpses before God, because we were unable to do anything that pleases God. All we were able to do was sin that was pleasing to the Devil. God says in Rom 8:8, “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God”. We were unable to reach out to Christ and accept Him as our Savior. We were unable to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, because we were in the stranglehold of the Devil and were held there at his will. We were on the way to Hell, and we were unable to help ourselves. This must be clear from Eph 2:2-3, for there we read that we were in the clutches of the prince of the power of the air, Satan, and we liked it that way. And to whom does this apply? God says to us in verse 3, “we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh”, and “we all were by nature the children of wrath, even as others”. In other words, the saints who really are the apple of God’s eye and are the ones whom God loved from before the foundation of the world, the saints who are the seed that God planted in the world in the parable of the wheat and the tares, the saints who are the good sea creatures in the parable of the dragnet, yes these saints came into the world as enemies of God and were serving the prince of the power of the air. And even though the Lord Jesus Christ has suffered and died for us on the cross almost 2000 years ago, we still came into the world as wicked as all the rest of mankind. Because of our sins God’s righteousness demanded that we must also be under the wrath of God, even as others who never become saved. And so, if even the saints were coming into the world as wicked sinners, who then can be called good? God says in Rom 3:12, “There is none that doeth good, no, not one”. Let us read what God says in Eph 2:

Eph 2:4-5  But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,     Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

Eph 2:6  And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

Eph 2:7  That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

Can we see now that it was only by God’s mercy and grace that He has changed us from sinners into saints? For when He has “quickened us together with Christ” it means that 2000 years ago Christ has made the full payment to make us alive at a certain point in our life. It was then that we turned from “bad” into “good” creatures. This was the fulfillment of God’s promise at the cross. And even though we still commit sin, our sins are now of a different nature, and our sins are no longer counted, for Christ also paid for all our future sins. And so we see that it was only by God’s mercy and grace that we are now considered “good” in His sight. Therefore we read in Eph 2:8-10,

Eph 2:8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Eph 2:9-10  Not of works, lest any man should boast.                  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

We are saved by grace, and the faith that we have received is not a faith that came of ourselves, but it was a gift from God, a gift of the unmerited favor of God. It could not be a faith out of ourselves that saved us, for God says in verse 10, “Not of works, lest any man should boast”. Besides, since Eph 2:1-3 indicate that we were dead, and we were unable to do anything that pleases God, it is clear that we were unable to come up with a faith that pleases God. Let us now return to the Gospel According to Matthew, Matt 13:48 (2X). God, “for his great love wherewith He loved us”, made us alive before Him, because He had it so decreed from before the foundation of the world, and He had it so decreed at the time that Christ died for our sins at the cross. This explains who the good are and who the bad are in the parable of the dragnet. God’s sovereignty is on display in the Epistle to the Ephesians as well as in the parable of the dragnet. If we read the parable of the dragnet by itself, it seems that the angels are making a judgment on who is good and who is bad. But those who are in the category “good” have already been saved by God in the course of time, and thus the angels are not judging independently, for they are doing what God has already determined to be done.

#3.       Vessels (Matt 13:48, Rom 9:22-23, 1Cor 15:51-58, 1Thes 4:13-18, John 5:28-29)

What are these vessels that we read about here in Matt 13:48?

Mt 13:48  Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.

When we think of this process in earthly terms, we think of large vessels which can contain many of the good sea creatures. But that is additional information, which is not provided in this parable of the dragnet. In fact, if each of the good sea creatures was put in a vessel of its own, it would perfectly fit the description that is given here, and this is the direction we should take in this process of separation. When the Bible speaks of “vessels” it often refers to earthly bodies. These can refer to bodies of the righteous as well as bodies of the wicked. For example we read in Rom 9:22-23,

Ro 9:22-23  What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:                 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,

Although the bad are spoken of as vessels of wrath, in the parable of the dragnet the bad are not put in vessels. According to the parable of the wheat and the tares the bad are bound in bundles before they are cast in the furnace of fire. And here the last word in Matt 13:48, is translated as “away”, but it should have been translated “without”. In other words, the ending of verse 48 should read, “cast the bad without”, or “cast the bad outside”. They will be cast outside where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Please turn in your Bibles to the First Epistle to the Corinthians, 1Cor 15:51 (2X). But the good are put in vessels. When we search the Bible we find that the saints on the last day shall be resurrected with glorified bodies that are patterned after the body that Christ presently has in His glorified body. We can read in 1Thes 4:13-18 about the resurrection of the saints on the last day, which is called the rapture. And we read in John 5:28-29 that the resurrection of the saints occurs at the same hour as the resurrection of the wicked for judgment. We must keep these things in focus when we read this passage in 1Cor 15:51-58, where we read,

1Co 15:51 ¶  Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

1Co 15:52  In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

1Co 15:53  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

1Co 15:54  So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

1Co 15:55  O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

1Co 15:56  The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

1Co 15:57  But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1Co 15:58 ¶  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

Verse 51 begins to say, “we shall not all steep”. In the Bible physical death is often pictured as sleep. In other words, there will be saints alive when the Lord Jesus Christ returns on the clouds of glory, and they will be raptured together with the saints who will be resurrected with a glorified body. At the last trumpet call, the dead in Christ shall be raised incorruptible, and those who are still alive in Christ shall also be changed at that moment. This passage does not speak of the resurrection of the unsaved, for the only bodies that are spoken of are incorruptible, and that cannot be said of those who will be resurrected and stand for judgment. We do not know what an incorruptible body looks like. God says here in this chapter that the bodies which are put in the grave are as different from the bodies that the saints shall receive, as a little seed is different from the plant that comes out of the ground. But then God says, “Death is swallowed up in victory”. Why victory? The church militant shall be transformed into the church triumphant. Each saved individual shall receive a new glorified body, and these are the vessels that are spoken of in the parable of the dragnet. Then God says in verse 56, “The sting of death is sin”. People will fear death because they fear that there will be retribution for the sins they have committed. They have transgressed the Law of God and they know it, and that is why we read, “the strength of sin is the Law”. But when we have become saved we do not fear physical death, for it is only a stepping stone to our presence with the Lord. Only the pain of death is something that we worry about. And so we remember that:

Please turn again to the Gospel According to Matthew, Matt 13:30 (2X). We read in 2Tim 2:19,

2Ti 2:19  Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

Christ knows those that are His. Both in the parable of the wheat and tares and in the parable of the dragnet Christ knows which seeds are His planting, and which sea creatures belong to Him. This is something that stands sure, for God’s decree from before the foundation of the world shall stand. And so, when we look at these two parables in perspective we want to ask what the difference is between these two. We have already seen the similarity between these two parables. But the difference can be summarized as follows:

The double focus of the parable of the wheat and the tares is: “Let both grow together” and the “judgment on the last day”, reflected in verses 30 and 41.

The double focus of the parable of the dragnet is: “Death” and the “judgment on the last day”, reflected in verses 47 and 49. This is what we clearly see in the nature of the dragnet. And this leads us to the nature of the Bride that the Lord is gathering for Himself. This Bride, consisting of the saints of both the OT and the NT periods of time is the treasure that He purchased for Himself on the cross, and thus this Bride has been saved entirely by grace. This is the nature of the Bride of Christ, and if we have been truly saved we also will recognize that we have been saved entirely as a gift from God. Nothing that we have ever done on earth can make this less than a 100% gift from God, for if we claim that we have contributed 0.0001% to this salvation by accepting Christ as our savior, we have totally lost it. God says in Rom 11:6, “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work”.

AMEN.                 Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.