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, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.—Matthew 13:47–50
The Just and the Unjust
Jesus here relates of matters of the heart that will be revealed on the final judgment day. The reward for each person will be according to his or her life—was there a desire to live by faith, or not? Christ will come to judge the “quick and the dead” at an unpredictable moment. Thus, once the call sounds there will be no more time to reconcile matters, but he who believes by faith will have Christ as his reconciliation victory (2 Cor. 5:19).
As a fisherman throws his net into the sea to catch every kind of fish, so Jesus pictures a net cast into the sea of people. This net has been gathering people from all races and nations since the foundation of the world (Rev. 7:9). Those that are caught in the net are revealed at the time of harvest. The angels will separate the “wicked from the just” and throw into a furnace of fire those who “hast a name that thou livest, and art dead” (Rev. 3:1). When the net is pulled to shore, everything becomes visible; all the evil deeds of men are revealed. Every person will one day face that moment. Will the answer from the Judge be, “I never knew you, depart from me,” or to one who is living by grace and truth, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34)?
Many hear the calling voice of the Good Shepherd at some time in life, but few heed the call. In the example of the ten lepers, Jesus asked, “Where are the nine?” (Luke 17:17). Only one had continued in faith to follow Jesus, giving glory to God. Jesus said to him, “Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole” (Luke 17:19).
The Pharisees demanded to know when the kingdom of God should come, thinking that with their eyes they would see a glorious sight revealing His kingdom. Jesus replied that God’s kingdom was already in their midst, or among them. Similarly, man’s eyes could not see the beauty of the inside of the ark, which only looked like tar and pitch from the outside. Eyes of faith see the fields already white waiting for the harvest at the end of this world.
Wait with Patience and Prayer
In faith, we must patiently wait for His Second Coming. Man would want to see results of the work now, even to quickly pull the tares from among the wheat, but Jesus teaches love and patience which is contrary to the mind of the flesh. Thus, with the mind of Christ, Paul said, “I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase” (1 Cor. 3:6). With patience and prayer, we say as the psalmist: “Hear me speedily, O Lord: my spirit faileth: hide not thy face from me…Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk” (Ps. 143:7,8).
The example of the rich man and Lazarus reveals how one who was rich with the things of this world ended up with a great gulf between him and the glory of heaven where the grace-beggar Lazarus sat, having reached the eternal shore of peace and beauty. Do not ignore the calling voice of the Good Shepherd.
Why can we both mourn and rejoice when a believer passes away? Especially when a dear family member or close one is called, we miss them and need to learn to live without their support and fellowship. However, when a heavenly testimony remains of one who passes away in faith, we know it is a great victory for them to enter the bosom of Abraham, and finally one day to the glory of heaven eternal. Therefore, we need each day to continue to believe, for we own the hope of heaven by faith. May we be found in the world, but not of the world, on the day that His angels come to harvest the grain for heaven.
November 2017 Voice of Zion