READ: Matthew 13:36-43
36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.
37 He answered, The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man.
38 The field is the world, and the good seed is the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one,
39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels.
40 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age.
41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers,
42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
Holy Metaphor, Batman.
Here is Jesus talking along in parables. In Matthew 13:34 it says, "All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable." So we have a veritable list of things that represent other things:
Sower = Son of Man (itself a metaphor for Jesus)
Field = world
good seed = children of the kingdom (itself a metaphor for The Church)
weeds = sons of the evil one
enemy sower = the devil
harvest = close of the age (itself a metphor for the end of the world, or depending on your view of the end times, the beginning of the millenium or whatever)
reapers = angels (ambiguous word in greek. can mean either angel or some sent agent)
So far, Jesus hasn't been all that clear about what he means. Even his explanation needs an explanation. But assuming we've got all our terms correct here, I'm left wondering why so many people assume hell to be a place that is an actual fiery furnace. Didn't the Word just say that Jesus wasn't saying anything without a parable? How about just adding to the list:
fiery furnace = hell
What we know about hell from other biblical sources is that it is a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth, a place of outer darkness, a place of exclusion from the presence of God and the glory of his might, a place where the residents' "inner worm never dies", and where there is continually something eating-at-but-never-devouring them. Sort of reminds me of the Pit of Sarlac or whatever that thing was in Star Wars where you are digested over a period of 1000 years. So, given the other ways of expressing hell, I think a fiery furnace is probably a mild metaphor.
Pastoral Relief and Retreat
- Wethersfield, CT, United States
- I am Pastor at Poquonock Community Church, Congregational (CCCC) in Windsor, CT. My wife Jama and I live in Wetherfield, CT. We'd like to invite you to Terre Haute -- High Ground -- That's what Jama and I call the retreat space on our property. We offer free intentional get-away retreats. We'll feed you and house you and give you space to be with the Lord. All are welcome; no questions asked. This blog is my daily devotional journal. I write it because it is so easy to go for weeks without ever taking the time to be alone with God. Writing helps me develop a discipline I need.