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Summary: Jesus gives 1) A vivid picture of judgment (Matthew 13:47–48), 2) A brief explanation of the principle of judgment (Matthew 13:49), and 3) A sobering warning about the peril of judgment (Matthew 13:50).

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Francis Chan’s new book, Erasing Hell, will be on the shelves from July 5 countering Rob Bell’s recent work, Love Wins. Bell acknowledges hell’s existence on earth but finds it difficult to believe that it is forever and that God can punish non-Christians for all eternity. Chan, on the other hand, says while most people wouldn’t want to believe in the reality of hell, the Bible clearly speaks about it.

Randy Alcorn, director of the Eternal Perspective Ministries, reviewing Chan’s book on his blog Wednesday said: “You can almost feel him (Chan) trembling over the issues at stake. He recognizes this debate is about God, His nature and His authority. I sensed both humility and prophetic power in this book,” .Chan honestly admits that when it comes to Matthew 25:46 – “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life” – “Everything in me wants to interpret it differently, to make it say something that fits my own view of justice and morality,”. Alcorn, said too many Christians had chosen to believe “whatever makes them feel good,” ignoring, denying, or reinterpreting Scripture to suit culture’s current definition of love and tolerance. “Hence, culture and the reader of Scripture become the authority, rather than Scripture itself. Faith becomes merely a collection of fleeting opinions, always subject to revision.”

In an interview with Relevant Magazine, Francis Chan said he was surprised to discover that the passages on hell were written to believers. “Usually we only talk about hell in this evangelistic, ‘I’m going to preach the gospel’ and ‘Hell, fire and brimstone’ to these unbelievers, but these passages really were written to those who called themselves the church. It’s a very sobering thought, and a very interesting warning,” he was quoted as saying (http://www.christianpost.com/news/francis-chans-coming-book-on-hell-gets-reviewed-51561/).

In the previous parables Jesus illustrated the nature of the kingdom, the power and influence of the kingdom, and the personal appropriation of the kingdom. Now He focuses again (v. 42) on the judgment connected with the kingdom. The parable of the net (Matthew 13:47-50) found only in Matthew is a frightening warning about what happens to the wicked when they are separated from the righteous in the last days. Here Jesus gives 1) A vivid picture of judgment (Matthew 13:47–48), 2) A brief explanation of the principle of judgment (Matthew 13:49), and 3) A sobering warning about the peril of judgment (Matthew 13:50) .

1) The Picture of Judgment (Matthew 13:47–48)

Matthew 13:47-48 [47]"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. [48]When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. (ESV)

The seventh parable in this great parable chapter of the Bible is the fifth parable similitude in the chapter. This parable, like the previous two, begins with “Again” (Matthew 13:47; cp. Matthew 13:44, 45). It is the lesson that says we need repetition in the learning process. The flesh does not like the “again” business. But if you are going to learn anything well or do anything well, “again” must be part of the process. In studying the Scripture, you must study “again” and “again”....Christ taught the people parables to help instruct in spiritual matters (Butler, J. G. (2008). Analytical Bible Expositor: Matthew (231). Clinton, IA: LBC Publications.)

On the Sea of Galilee three basic methods of fishing were employed, all of which are still used there today. The first was with a line and hook, which was used to catch one fish at a time. That was the type of fishing the Lord instructed Peter to do when they needed money to pay the two-drachma tax (Matt. 17:24–27). The other two types of fishing involved nets. One net was a small, one-man casting net called an amphiblçstron. Peter and his brother Andrew were taking turns casting an amphiblçstron when Jesus called them to become “fishers of men” (Matt. 4:18–19). The folded net was carried over the fisherman’s shoulder as he waded in shallow water looking for a school of fish. When the fish were near enough, he would hold the center cord in one hand and with the other hand throw the net so that it opened into a large circle and came down over the fish. Weights around the perimeter of the net caused it to sink and trap the fish. The fisherman then pulled on the cord, which was attached to the center of the net and drew it around the fish like a sack. When the net had been pulled closed, the fisherman would haul his catch to shore.

A second type of net was the sagçnç, a very large dragnet, or seine, that required a team of fishermen to operate and sometimes covered as much as a half square mile. It was pulled into a giant circle around the fish, dragged between two boats or dropped offshore by boat and then dragged to shore with ropes. With floats at the top and weights at the bottom, it blocked the passage of anything larger than the gauge of the netting. These formed a wall of net from the surface to the bottom of the lake. It could be located in relation to sightings of shoals of fish or known feeding areas, but it was otherwise totally indiscriminate in what it gathered up. The ‘haul’ could include junk and weeds as well as a wide range of sea life and fish of every kind. (Nolland, J. (2005). The Gospel of Matthew : A commentary on the Greek text (568). Grand Rapids, Mich.; Carlisle: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press.).

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