THE ETERNITY OF UNBELIEVERS
Good Fish, Bad Fish
Landlubbers, in the opinion of coastal dwellers, don’t really know what it’s like to eat fresh seafood—fresh meaning seafood that was swimming in the ocean just a few hours before eating it. As romantic and delectable as that sounds, catching that prized seafood is not as pure a delight as is eating it.
Anyone who has ever seen “shrimpers” at work, for instance, knows that when the giant nets are lowered into the sea there is no telling what they will bring up. Even when a rich bed of crustaceans is located and brought on deck, weeding out the “trash” fish is the first task at hand. For when the net closes, it brings up everything in its path. Crabs, flounder, eels, young sharks, stingrays, and a host of other sea creatures must be weeded out and thrown back. While these might have value another day, the shrimper keeps only one type of organism—that for which the net has been cast.
Jesus told a parable about the kingdom of God that used the fisherman’s net as an illustration. His disciples, some of whom had been fishermen before learning to fish for men (Matt. 4:18), easily understood His story. Every time they raised their nets on the Sea of Galilee, they would find bad fish mixed with the good.
So it will be at the end of the age, Jesus explained. It is as if God’s net is spread over all the earth at the present time and is slowly being winched up. At the end of the present age, God’s angels will come and will separate the righteous from the unrighteous. The righteous will be kept for God’s eternal kingdom, the unrighteous thrown into the lake of fire. God’s ultimate purpose in history is to remove the unrighteous from His presence and dwell forever with the righteous.
We do not see God’s net gathering us in, but it is. He pulls slowly, not wanting His angels to find any unrighteous (2 Peter 3:9). Now is the time, before the net is brought in, to make sure that you will be one for whom God’s net has been cast.
He will keep forever the righteous He finds at the end of this age.