Parable of the Dragnet (continued) 09b

Mysteries of The Kingdom of the Heavens

Part 09b

Parable of the Dragnet (continued)



Let us continue the study of this last parable of Mathew Chapter 13. This parable begins by events occurring throughout the present dispensation (v.47) and then gives an account of events taking place after this dispensation has run its course, at the end of this present age (v.48-50) before the beginning of the coming age.

The eternal condemnation of the unsaved

“The furnace of fire” is mentioned twice (in verses 42 and 50) in this Chapter. “The everlasting fire” was prepared for the devil and his angels (Matt.25:41). All men born in this world are born in sin and are also destined to perish in or to be cast into “the lake of fire” to be tormented in it forever and ever (Rom.5:12; Rev.20:15). But God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). It implies that whoever does not believe in Him will perish. Man receives eternal condemnation not for his sins and trespasses, but for the lone reason of not believing in the only begotten Son of God. The eternal destiny of a person is decided by this one and only act of accepting by simple faith or rejecting the grace of God revealed through the great sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, on the cross of Calvary (John 3:18, 36). By grace are you saved through faith (Eph.2:5, 8).

Entry into the coming kingdom is the goal of the Word of God

As we have already seen, not only this Chapter, but the whole Word of God teaches predominantly about the coming age of the 1000-year Millennial Kingdom, dealing mainly with the saved in relation to their entry into or exclusion from the Millennial Kingdom. The saved man alone can understand and be edified and equipped by the Word of God and become worthy to enter into that kingdom (1Cor.2:14; 2Tim.3:16, 17; Acts 20:32). This is the purpose for which man is redeemed and it is the same purpose for which man was originally created (Gen.1:28). On the contrary we are accustomed to see only the eternal destiny of man in the Word of God. Because of this biased thinking we neglect these warnings which are specifically meant for us. We erroneously interpret them as if the unsaved man is being dealt with in relation to eternal life and eternal damnation by all these teachings.

When we study about “the furnace of fire” mentioned in these two parables (in verses 42 and 50) of this Chapter, we will find that exactly the same thing is dealt with by “Gehenna,” “outer darkness” and “the lake of fire” in related Scriptures.

The correct meaning of Gehenna

The Lord Jesus Christ used the word “Gehenna” (Geenna in Greek) 11 times in the New Testament (Matt. 5:22, 29, 30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15, 33; Mark 9:43, 45, 47; Luke 12:5). “Gehenna” is same as “Hinnom” appearing in the Hebrew Old Testament (Josh.15:8; 18:16). It is the name of a valley on the southern side of Jerusalem, the City of the Great King (Matt.5:35). This valley was used, at times, as a place where human sacrifices were offered during Old Testament days (II Kings 23:10; Jer. 7:31). It is the valley on the outer side of the City of Jerusalem where the refuse from within Jerusalem was discarded during the time of Christ. Even dead bodies were, at times, cast into this place; and the fires burned continuously.

In most of the English translations of the Bible, the name of this valley has been translated as “hell” and this has led to great confusion in the proper interpretation and understanding of these Scriptures. If you carefully check all these 11 references, you will find that Christ has never used this word in relation to the eternal condemnation of the unsaved. Rather, the word always appears in texts set within contexts having to do solely with the saved in relation to the coming kingdom.

Outer darkness

Christ used the expression “outer darkness” three times in Matthew’s Gospel (Matt.8:12; 22:13; 25:30). The use of “outer darkness” is simply another way in which the Lord dealt with the same issue. Those denied positions with Christ in His kingdom will find themselves in the place where the refuse from the city was discarded on the outer side of the city. Viewing the matter from the other perspective, those denied positions with Christ in His kingdom will find themselves in a place separated from the One Who said, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). Instead of occupying a position with Christ in His kingdom, they will find themselves in a place outside the kingdom, a place associated with darkness.

The lake of fire

The description of “the lake which burns with fire and brimstone” in Rev. 21:8 is another way in which Scripture deals with the same thing again. “The lake of fire” is the place where unsaved man will spend eternity (Rev.20:11-15). But it is also the place where saved men who do not overcome (the world, the flesh, and the Devil) during the present dispensation will find themselves during the Millennial Era. And this, of course, would be the same as saved man being cast into “the furnace of fire” in Matt. 13:42, 50.

Non-overcomers and second death/lake of fire

The same thing is seen in the promise to overcomers in Rev.2:11. Seven epistles written to the saved individuals in seven churches are recorded in Revelation Chapters 2 & 3. At the end of each epistle the Lord has promised rewards to the overcomers (Rev.2:7, 11, 17, 26-28; 3:5, 12, and 21). When we look at all these seven promises together, we can clearly see that, the fulfillment of these promises is Millennial in scope – will be realized in the 1000-year Messianic Kingdom alone. The promise given in Rev.2:11 is “he who overcomes shall not be hurt of the second death.” The second death is the lake of fire (Rev.20:14). This promise clearly implies that those who do not overcome will be hurt of the second death/lake of fire. This is same as what we see in 1Cor.3:15: If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet as through fire. In this verse, “saved” is Eternal, whereas “loss” and “fire” are Millennial.

The goal of all the revealed plans of God

In Genesis Chapter 1, God created man to rule over the earth. We see this purpose being fulfilled in Revelation chapters 21 and 22. Revelation 21 moves beyond the Millennium into the eternal ages, with the first six verses giving a complete picture of these ages ending with “It is done” in verse six. Then, beginning with the latter part of verse six and continuing through verse eight, overcoming and/or being overcome are again, for the last time, dealt with in this book. Then, the remainder of the book is simply a commentary for these eight verses. Revelation 21:9-22:5 forms a commentary for this part of the section (21:1-6a), which has to do with conditions beyond the Millennium. Then Revelation 22:6-21 forms a commentary for the section (21:6b-8), which has to do with conditions before and during the Millennium. We can see plainly that saved individuals who are non-overcomers and unfruitful will find themselves outside coming glorious kingdom of Christ.

Final word of warning/encouragement

The picture surrounding an association of non-overcomers with Gehenna and the lake of fire appears unmistakable. As Gehenna was the place of refuse for the earthly city of Jerusalem, the lake of fire is seen as the place of refuse for the heavenly city of Jerusalem. In John 15:6 and Heb. 6:8, saved individuals are spoken of in association with burning with fire. And the context in these two places has to do with either bearing fruit or not bearing fruit, which is exactly the same thing seen in the parables of Matthew thirteen. Whereas the overcomers will not be hurt of the second death, they will be allowed to ascend the throne with Christ, and they will rule as co-heirs with Christ over the nations (Rev. 2:11, 26-28; 3:21). It is at this time that Matt. 13:43 will be fulfilled: “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”