When God's Kingdom Closes In On Your Life
Sunday, September 29, 2013 -
Matthew 13:47-50 - “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind.  When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad.  So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous  and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
The parable of the seed and the soils (13:1-9) focuses on the necessity of hearing the Word with a ready and willing heart. How we hear determines the fruitfulness of the Word in our lives. Most, three out of four, don’t hear deeply and sincerely enough.
The parable of the wheat and the tares (13:24-30) highlights the need for patience and endurance while the enemy opposes the Kingdom of God in this world. It also underscores the church’s mandate to keep spreading the gospel rather than deceive herself that it is her responsibility to pull up and root out the forces of wickedness in this present world. Jesus says we mustn’t do that. He will do that when He comes again.
Then we studied the parables of the treasure buried in a field and the pearl of great price (13:44-46). The central idea in these two parables is clear. The kingdom is easy to find. But it is costly to possess. If one is to discover the thrill of the treasure of Christ in his life, he must, first of all, recognize that Christ can’t be one of many or one of several treasures in the heart. Both the farmer and the pearl merchant were forced to part with all other possessions before they could find their heart’s desire. The decision to salvation must be a huge, radical decision or it really hasn’t been made at all. Kingdom talk and kingdom ideas won’t purchase the kingdom.
So now we come to the parable of the dragnet. We aren’t very familiar with the central picture of this fishing concept. Yet it is central to understanding the main idea in the story. The dragnet was typically operated by at least two men. The net was a long rectangle, weighted on the bottom, with floats attached to the top. One man would stand with the net firmly in hand on the shore. The other would slowly let his end of the net down into the water from a boat farther out in the water. From that position the boat would move in a semi circle, letting the net down and sweeping around to the shore father down the beach. Finally, both men would be on the beach, putting the net, irreversibly toward the shore. This is key to understanding the point of the parable. The fish have only one direction in which to move. They can freely and easily swim away from the net, but only by moving closer to the beach.
1) THIS PARABLE IS DESIGNED TO TIE UP THE LOOSE ENDS OF THE PREVIOUS PARABLE OF THE BURIED TREASURE AND THE PEARL OF GREAT PRICE
Those parables both teach the preciousness of the saving kingdom of Jesus Christ. Jesus really is like the greatest treasure you can ever find. He really is like a rare gem - a pearl of unbelievable beauty and value.
Those parables also teach the cost of the kingdom. In Jesus’ story, both the farmer and the merchant were willing to part with everything else to obtain the joy of knowing Christ.
This final parable of Jesus in this chapter underscores the urgency of not missing out spiritually. People can choose to sacrifice all for Christ or choose not to do so. But the fruit of either decision won’t be properly evaluated right here in this earthly life.
2) THERE IS COMING AN INEVITABLE DAY OF SEPARATION AND JUDGEMENT
Matthew 13:49-50 - “So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous  and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
This is quite a different concept for much of the church. We aim everything we do at personal fulfillment. Jesus aimed everything at eternal glory. And there is all the difference in the world in those two goals. There are many things in life that, at least on the surface, seem personally fulfilling that, in fact, will turn out to be eternally damming.
Conversely, there are many things in this world that seem to be personally confining and difficult and costly that, in fact, turn out to be glorifying to God and eternally rewarding.This is what Jesus meant when He said that all true disciples must lose their lives to find them in His Kingdom.Remembering the goal of judgement day will streamline the rest of life. At least it should. Here’s how the saints fixed their attention to this theme in the Scriptures:
1 John 3:2-3 - “Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.  And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”
1 Peter 1:13-16 - “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance,  but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,  since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy."
Jesus says this is thinking that is seriously defective and blind. If someone could take us - transport us - right from where we are now, up to judgement day and just give us a glimpse of what will happen then, and then bring us back to live the rest of our lives, we would probably do very few things exactly the way we did before. No wonder Jesus closes this judgement parable with the words, “Have you understood all these things?” (13:51). If this isn’t understood, nothing else will be right in the life. We will be earthbound, short-sighted, and blind to our own dangerous condition.
3) THE CONSUMMATION OF GOD’S KINGDOM CLOSES IN ON EVERY LIFE IN A WAY THAT IS USUALLY UNPERCEIVED
You don’t have to make a wise, positive response to God in this world if you don’t want to. Like these fish, who first feel the brush of the net, people can just swim away. But only in one direction. You never get around the voice of God. You never escape. You only delay. Everything is moving irrevocably toward the beach. Not one fish will be missing. There is an unescapable part of God’s Kingdom. You have to face Him one day. The apparent freedom to ignore God is only apparent freedom. It isn’t real. Those fish swim away from the dragnet thinking they have avoided it. But they’re only fish and they’re only deceived. They’re all heading for the same beach.
So the Lord, by His Word, talks to you today about some point of stubborn rebellion, some area where you are avoiding dealing with Him. And then the service ends. You go out with your friends. You soon forget that your conscience has been violated once more. Or, the Lord shows you the idols on the inside of your heart. He shows you where you’re living for the wrong ends and trying to please the wrong crowd. But you choose not to yield and tomorrow things are back to normal. Or, there’s some part of your life that is a lie. You’re two-faced. You’re one thing with certain people and something else with others. There seems to be such freedom to continue on like that for as long as you can pull off the con. But that freedom isn’t real. We will all soon be caught up in God’s sovereign plan. His rule is unstoppable.