#4 – March 24th ~ The Harvest of the Kingdom (Judgment Day)
It should come as no surprise that the Kingdom of Heaven comes with an aspect of judgment. John the Baptist and Jesus have been using language that suggests judgment and punishment. Verses that we have already covered include Matthew 3:10-12, 8:12, 10:15. As we are looking at the seven parables of the kingdom of heaven located in Matthew 13, we see that two of them have the interpretation that the judgment will occur at the end of the age. Before we get to these two parables, though, let’s look at language that Jesus has been using about Judgment Day, or The Day of Judgment.
It seems that the phrase “The Day of Judgment” originated with Jesus. There are hints of it in the old testament scriptures, but the phrase “The Day of Judgment” simply does not appear there. Some scriptures that are worth noting are Psalm 76:8-9, Ecclesiastes 12:14, Daniel 7:10, Malachi 3:5, but especially Psalm 96:12-13 echoed by Psalm 98:8-9 (which Psalm 92-99 seems to be one grand psalm portraying the coming of the Messiah). John and Jesus introduced the preaching of the Kingdom of Heaven and along with that there is this event that Jesus terms The Day of Judgment. Matthew uses the phrase the most, but it is also used by Mark, Peter, John, and Jude, see Matthew 10:15, 11:22, 11:24, 12:36, Mark 6:11, II Peter 2:9, 3:7, I John 4:17, and Jude 6. Paul has a very close equivalent worth mentioning found in Acts 17:31. Before we get to the parables, let’s look at two key passages in which Jesus uses this language.
Matthew 11:20-24 ~ Jesus condemns Galilee. For context, this is after the twelve disciples go forth from town to town preaching the gospel. Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum were all located on the north side of the Sea of Galilee. These towns have had ample time and evidence to repent at the presence of the Son of God. Jesus describes a future judgment when cities which had experienced past destruction from God will be present as well. Tyre and Sidon had twice experienced God’s judgment. Isaiah 23 had foretold a destruction which came to pass in 722BC. Ezekiel 26-28 details a complete destruction which occurred at the hands of both Nebuchadnezzar II (a 13 year siege from 586BC-573BC) and Alexander the Great (332BC then later by Antigonus in 315BC). Sodom had experienced the wrath of God in Genesis 19. Given the wide time span here, how is it possible that all these cities will be present together on The Day of Judgment? Is it fair that Sodom was already punished by God but still must face The Day of Judgment? For those who want to study the cross reference of Ezekiel 26-28, there is a parallel language that Jesus uses to the language of Ezekiel. Tyre (Tyrus) was exalted to heaven, Ezekiel 28:12-19, but will be cast down to the lower parts of the earth, Ezekiel 26:19-21. Capernaum also was exalted to heaven but will be brought down to hades, or the realm of the dead.
Note: In the class it was generally agreed upon that the only way for all of these generations to experience judgment day together was the resurrection.
Matthew 12:38-45 ~ The Witnesses on The Day of Judgment. The cities that Jesus mentioned in the previous passage were recipients of God’s wrath. In this passage, the men of Nineveh escaped judgment because they repented. They will “rise in judgment” alongside the present generation to whom Jesus was speaking. They play the role of condemning the generation of Jesus. The Queen of the South refers to the Queen of Sheba which story is told in I Kings 10. She came from another country to seek out this king that God had set on the throne. The people of Capernaum didn’t have to travel anywhere, but instead the Son of God came to them. Jonah didn’t do one miracle, yet Nineveh repented. The Queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon and rearranged her entire kingdom to find out the truth. The people of Galilee heard Jesus speak and witnessed countless miracles yet were not repentant.
Based on these two passages, what will The Day of Judgment be like? How does Jesus describe it?
In the class I led an activity. I gave three different sheets of paper with facts on them about a certain person. The first person was someone who had lived in Nineveh and had repented at the preaching of Jonah. I asked them a series of questions like, “So you don’t know very much about God?” “Yet you heard this Jonah person preaching to repent, is that right?” “Why did you repent?” The responses were something like, “I thought this God might give us a second chance. I heard we were going to be destroyed.”
The second one was the Queen of Sheba. I asked questions like, “So you lived in a faraway land and traveled all that way? Why did you make that long journey?” “Didn’t that take a lot of time and effort to travel all that distance?” “What did you find once you got there?” “Did you feel your journey was worth that long trip?”
The third one was a person who lived during the days of Jesus but had never repented. “So you know who Jesus of Nazareth is?” “Did you ever witness a miracle?” “Have you ever heard Him preach?” “What was the message that you heard?” And of course, “Why didn’t you ever repent?” The answers were something like, “Yes, I saw a miracle. Yes, I heard Him say that we needed to repent.” “I never thought it was that serious of an issue.”
Then I turned to the man from Nineveh and the Queen of Sheba. What do you have to say about this person? Both of you went through repentance or traveling a great distance to hear the truth. This person had the Truth walking through their own neighborhood and never repented. Is there any reason to withhold judgment?
Matthew 13:24-30 ~ The Parable of the Tares. This parable has some things in common with John’s parable of the threshing floor. In John’s parable the separation was between the grain and chaff on the wheat. Here the separation is between wheat and tares. The tares are darnell which is fake wheat. In both parables there is a gathering of the wheat into the barn. There is also a burning of what is thrown away, whether chaff or tares. Does it seem reasonable to apply this parable to The Day of Judgment about which Jesus has been speaking?
Note: There is a clear connection between the preaching of John the Baptist and that of Jesus. They were both prophesying a judgment by fire, or about The Day of Judgment.
Matthew 13:36-43 ~ The Explanation of the Parable. Jesus defines each symbol. (Note: This is a SS lesson designed to get people to search the scriptures for the answers.)
The Man who sowed good seed –
The field –
The good seed –
The tares –
The enemy –
The harvest –
The reapers –
What is the destination of the wicked? What is the destination of the righteous?
Note that we have encountered resurrection language twice in these passages. The men of Nineveh and the Queen of the South will “rise up” as in a resurrection. Here the righteous shine forth like the sun in the kingdom of their Father, which would be the kingdom of heaven. Compare this with Daniel 12:2-3. This parable should give us great hope as far as our destination at the end of the age.
This parable seems to solve the problem of whether the kingdom of heaven was present during the ministry of Jesus or if Jesus was speaking of a kingdom that was completely in the future. The kingdom work is in the here and now in the field. Yet the kingdom is not completely pure. The judgment will occur at the end of the age and will include the righteous inheriting the earth while the wicked are cast out. The people of faith sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven but the wicked get thrown out into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. The answer to the question of whether the kingdom of heaven is present or future is yes.
Matthew 13:47-50 ~ The Parable of the Dragnet. We have another parable of the kingdom of heaven which occurs at the end of the age. This parable was designed for the fishing village in which Jesus was living and the surrounding area. At least four of the disciples of Jesus were fishermen. This would have been a familiar sight to anyone living on the Sea of Galilee. Jewish fishermen practiced the Jewish law and separated the clean from the unclean creatures, see Leviticus 11:9-12. Gentile fishermen did not do this, therefore Jewish fishermen had a larger clientele. Simon, Andrew, John, and James had walked away from a very lucrative business to follow Jesus of Nazareth. The good get gathered into vessels akin to the wheat being gathered into the barn. The bad are thrown away and the interpretation here is the same: they are thrown into a furnace of fire where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Again, the righteous (also termed the just) get to remain while the wicked are thrown out.
We are living during a time when the wicked and the righteous live side by side. How should these two parables affect our daily living? How should this future event affect our daily living? Have you ever had a time when you wished God’s judgment would come now? Do you think someone has wished God’s judgment on you? Is there anyone that you love that will experience God’s judgment on The Day of Judgment? How do you feel in the here and now knowing that some of your family and friends will be thrown out into the outer darkness? If you are called as a witness against someone that you love on the Day of Judgment, will you be able to say that you warned them? Based on everything we have studied today, what will the Kingdom of Heaven be like?
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman