The parable of the dragnet is the seventh and last in the series of the Lord's parables recorded in Matthew 13. These parables reveal what Jesus calls "the secrets of the kingdom of heaven," which are the mysteries of what God is doing behind the scenes of history in the present age which began with Jesus' first coming to earth and will end with his second coming to earth.
Through these parables we can see the history of this age as God sees it and we can understand something of what He is accomplishing as we are still involved in it.
Jesus told us the gospel would spread and grow in this age and also many false gospels would be spread along side of it. The good news is that the way of reconciliation back to God is still available to all humanity.
Matthew 13:47-50. "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth."
The kingdom of heaven is like a huge dragnet cast into the sea. Itís pictured as a huge fish seine. The sea often refers to the population of the world in scripture. Itís a picture of the work of the professing church, and like the professing church, there are the bad fish who represent the lost souls who are numbered among the professors of faith in Christ and the good fish who represent the true believers in Christ.
When the dragnet is full, which will be at the end of this age, the net will be drawn to shore and the good and bad fish separated from each other.
This isnít the end of the world that is in view, itís the end of the Tribulation period which will come at the end of the present age of grace. This will precede the ushering in of the kingdom age in its fullness. We have not reached that time on Godís calendar as yet. The time spoken of here is the end of the Tribulation period, the time of the Second Advent of Christ.
Letís summarize the meanings of the different elements in the parable again. The dragnet let into the sea represents the nations. The good fish are the righteous; that is, saved people, both Jews and Gentiles. The bad fish are the unrighteous; namely, unbelieving people of all races. A separation takes place. The separating of the good and bad is done by angels. The righteous enter the kingdom of God, their Father, while the unrighteous are sent to a place of fire where "there is wailing and gnashing of teeth." This is not the final judgment, this will take place at the end of the Tribulation and the Millennial reign of Christ will follow immediately. The final judgment for the unsaved will take place after the thousand year reign of Christ is completed.
The parables of the Wheat and the Tares showed both the good and bad side by side at first and then divided. Jesus explained this in the words, "So shall it be at the end of the age."
Both the Dragnet and the Wheat and the Tares describe the work of the angels in separating the wicked from the just; both describe the fact that the wicked will be judged and they will be cast into the fire where there shall be "the wailing and the gnashing of teeth." Each parable, then, has this one central and distinguishing fact.
Taken together these two parables teach that in the professing Church the good and evil are intermingled and that God has set a day of separation.
In the parable of the dragnet, along with the three previous parables, the Lord revealed the hidden aspects of His Kingdom to believers in Jesus. These truths had not yet been made known to men as they were seen from God's point of view.
To understand these parables properly itís important to know that the present dispensation of Grace, beginning with Pentecost and terminating with Christ's Second Advent, is frequently described as "the Kingdom of Heaven." Matthew 11:12. ďAnd from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence.Ē
The sea represents all of fallen humanity. The sea would appear to stand for the Gentile nations because in this present dispensation God's mercy is turned to the Gentiles, but God loves the world and that includes all souls, whether Jew or Gentile.
The net gathered some of every kind. When the Gospel is preached it does not have the effect of bringing all who hear it into the professing Church. There are some out "of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nations" that hear and believe, but there are also many who hear and reject the message or only profess to believe. Since the true church, the Bride of Christ, will have been raptured before this time, my understanding is that these who are pictured here as taken up in the dragnet are from the Tribulation period. Revelation 5:9. ďAnd they sang a new song, saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.Ē
The parable states that the fish were of "every kind," "good" and "bad." These parables symbolize the mixture of saved and unsaved in professing Christianity. There was a Ham in the Ark, a Judas among the Apostles; and Esau and Jacob still struggle together in the womb of the visible church of Christ. They are not all Israelites who are of Israel. Many say they are Christians but are not. Belonging to a visible church does not necessarily include membership in the true Church. People may be religious yet not regenerated, baptized yet never washed in the blood of Christ; professors yet not possessors. Matthew 7:21. "Not everyone who says to Me, ĎLord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven.Ē
In spite of religious affiliations, there are only two kinds of fish: good or bad. If a person is not God's wheat then he must be Satan's tares.
Throughout this dispensation of grace, the Holy Spirit is actively forming the true Church, the Bride of Christ, and the believers, as fishermen, are occupied with the gospel net.
At the close of this dispensation, Christ will receive His kingdom on earth. He will have taken all the good fish, or wheat, and left all the bad fish and the tares behind.
That will result in the good being left to enjoy our Lord's millennial reign while the bad will have been taken to the place of fire and brimstone. The Angels who do the sorting will make no mistakes. "He will take out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their father." Matthew 13:41.
The true Christian is the fisherman of today, and, as such, we are to warn sinners of the Great White Throne Judgment which will determine the eternal condition of the lost.
There will be no net spread from the shore of the Judgment Day. No good souls and bad souls to sort. Today is the day of grace when the lost can be saved, but to those who refuse to take Christ as their Savior, their condemnation is already pronounced.
Donít be among those who refuse to come to Christ.
He is awaiting your decision right now.
Just accept Him as your Lord and Savior
and enjoy the peace of mind
that comes with knowing you will
spend eternity in heaven with Him!