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In the mid 1950’s a TV series named “Dragnet” aired for several years. It was about a group of detectives in the city of Los Angeles who used a serious of measures to sweep through the streets and bring people in to be either found guilty or acquitted before the law. In this final parable to His disciples about a dragnet Jesus illustrates that in the present form of the kingdom of heaven men both believers and unbelievers are for a time allowed to co-exist. But the time is coming when God will make the separation between the two and the wicked will be judged.

Jesus just as in previous parables relying on something very ordinary and common compares the kingdom of heaven to a dragnet that was used by the fishermen to catch an enormous amount of fish. This analogy was well understood by His disciples because fishing was normal part of for many of them. This method of fishing required a lot more effort and was usually accomplished with more then one person, but brought in the most fish. Not only did our Lord gave them the parable but He also identified some of the element that made up this parable. First, the fishermen were the angels who at the end will do the act of separating between the good and the bad, the righteous and the wicked. Second, the fish are the people who live in this present form of the kingdom. Third. even though not directly identified  by the Lord, probably refers to the world just as in field/world comparison vs.38. Fourth, is the dragnet which most likely refers to the process of gathering men for the final assessment and the judgment of God.

One of the reasons for this parable was to correct the disciple’s understanding of the kingdom of God. Based on the Old Testament in their mind when Messiah finally came He would set Israel free, set up His throne as King in Jerusalem and purge the wicked from the righteous. Jesus in effect affirmed this understanding, but also said it will take place not now but at the end of the age. For right now the righteous and wicked are allowed to live their lives together in the same world enjoying all the benefits of God’s common grace. Even though in this present age God is patient with the sinners and calls them to take advantage of the salvation provided for them by His Son, He will ultimately judge those who persist in their wickedness.

Perhaps no other person ever alive spoke so much about hell as Jesus did. Here again we see Jesus repeats the ultimate end that awaits the wicked. After the separation Jesus says they will be thrown into the lake of fire where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Even the slightest look at the text will reveal that that hell is a not a place where you’d want to end up. It is clear that it is a place of tremendous suffering. Other texts of Scripture tell us that this suffering will last forever. It is a place where both body and soul will be suffering.

The reality of eternal punishment should and the period of grace right now should encourage us to be more active in reaching out to the lost of this world with the message of the gospel. It should also compel us to take a serious inventory of our own lives and standing before God.