Posts Tagged ‘Tares’

Matthew 13:36-43 – HELL, GOD’S WASTE MANAGEMENT CENTRE – Part 11

Hell

I watch as hell is washed inland with the momentum of an earthquake behind it, a wave of burning cars, buildings and debri. And in its wake the devastation of thousands lost. Earthquake, tsunami, nuclear explosion.

In the Valley of Hinnom, outside Jerusalem, refuse was burned continually day and night. It was called Gehenna, the city dump. Jesus uses it as a picture of HELL. I know that Hell is regarded as a foolish ploy of religious people to instill fear, or a metaphor of retribution, but the Bible is very clear about it being a LITERAL AND DEFINITE place, originally prepared for the devil and his angels and not us (Matthew 25:41).

We are concerned for the lives lost in Japan. What is even worse is the thought of people being separated from God for ETERNITY. As reluctant as I am to speak about hell, Jesus isn’t. Perhaps today, rather than pointing to Gehenna, Jesus would point to the smoldering, twisted rubbish dump, like a lake of fire and smoke that once was Northern Japan, and say that it is a portrait of hell. It’s an incredible waste. But Imagine God thinking that my life is a waste such as this, not only on earth but also for eternity. No wonder hell is described as “THE SECOND DEATH”.

Imagine in Japan a helicopter offering to lift someone from the path of the Tsnami. Imagine them saying “I don’t need your help”. Lots of people do that with Jesus. They say “Well, I’ve lived a pretty good life. I don’t need Jesus. I don’t need to be saved!” The arrogance that deceives me into thinking that somehow I DESERVE heaven rather than accept that Christ died for my sins to keep me from hell may be a prevalent concept today, but it is totally ego centric and highlights how spiritually blind I am. I am choosing to live on a waste dump. Or as we choose to call it a Waste Management Recycling Centre.

As I speak on this day 14th March 2011, Hell walks through the battered remains of New Zealand, Japan and threatens people at Gunpoint in Libya, but Matthew 10:28 (NLT) says “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

The Bible says God is life. Those who choose to separate themselves from God separate themselves from that life for eternity, an unimaginable existence.

When Jesus gives an explanation of the parable of the WHEAT AND WEEDS being separated at the harvest, He uses strong terms. He says in Matthew 13:41-42 (NLT) “The Son of Man will send His angels, and they will remove from His Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. And the angels will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” A comedian said if you don’t have teeth then teeth will be provided, but somehow it doesn’t seem so funny when you think that teeth gnashing describes the terrifying torment and anguish of such retribution.

Jesus is looking at some very religious people as He speaks and says “There will come a time when it will be sorted out”. The day of judgment is coming! He is simply stating it as a fact, and He is not trying to be some street preacher wearing a placard saying “Turn or burn!” Far from it. He is saying “NO-ONE ELSE has come to save you.”

John 3:17-21 (NLT) says “God sent His Son into the world NOT TO JUDGE the world, BUT TO SAVE the world through Him. There is NO JUDGMENT against anyone who BELIEVES IN HIM. But anyone who does NOT believe in Him has ALREADY been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light…”

These are words of life, not death. God loves you. He IS love. The invitation is clear. God offers us life in Christ. Jesus is the only way, truth and life. Choose life.

Pastor Ross

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Matthew 13:24–30 – SMOKING WEED – Part 10

Smoking

The world is amazed as a corrupt president is removed from power in Egypt. The people who protested on the streets of Cairo are hailed as heros. In the midst of their jubilation we hear of a reporter being raped and beaten as she seeks to cover the story on the streets of Cairo. Like the parable in Matthew 13:24-30, the world is full of WEEDS. So is my garden at the moment but that’s not the topic of this parable.

Amidst the devastation of flood waters in Australia heros are born. SES workers rescue people from rooftops, Churches open their doors of their meeting places as evacuation centres and send out work parties to clean up homes from the mud and debri. Yet looters thieve the pickings of people who have lost everything. WEEDS AMONG WHEAT?

Rapists among the heros. Looters, like vultures among those trying to help the weak and helpless. Child traffickers among those who build orphanages to protect the children of Cambodia. Self righteous hypocrites among genuine followers of Christ. WEEDS AMONG THE WHEAT. “Why does God allow evil people, hypocritical people and people who apathetically look on while evil happens in the world to exist?”

Why doesn’t God force everyone to believe and to honour one another and Him? Way back in the Garden of Eden why didn’t God snuff out Adam and Eve the moment they sinned and start again? In the parable Jesus tells, even the angels don’t quite know what to do. “Should we pull out the weeds?” they ask (Matthew 13:28). 

I’m with the angels in this parable. I just want to get rid of all the evil in the world. I’m not sure where to draw the line with this, but there’s some obvious people who deserve to be UPROOTED first. Let’s get rid of all the religious hypocrites while we are at it. But Jesus says “‘No, …, you’ll uproot the wheat if you do.” (Matthew 13:29).

Jesus identifies the fact that we have an ENEMY who works against God’s kingdom purposes. We CO-EXIST with all kinds of evil people (sin has tainted our world) and to make hasty, malicious, unfounded judgments about them and try to uproot them would damage us. The reason is that I am tainted with sin too. I am hardly equipped to judge without taking the log out of my own eye (Matthew 7:5). How do I know who is righteous and who isn’t? My flawed judgment is likely to pull up the wheat with the weeds.

Besides, ALL of us deserve to be uprooted and thrown into the fire (What a horrible picture that is). Romans 3:23 (NLT) says “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” But in God’s grace He let’s “both grow together until the harvest. Then” He says “I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’” (Matthew 13:30 NLT). It puts a whole new slant on smoking weed.

Of course the intention of this story is not to say that God wants to BURN THE WEEDS – those who don’t know Christ! The intention of the story is to show that He is allowing plenty of time BEFORE He judges the world. 2 Peter 3:9 (NLT) says “The Lord isn’t really being SLOW about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being PATIENT for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” It seems even weeds have a chance to be transformed (Now that’s the kind of miracle I need in my garden at present).

Jesus is saying that the only hope for an evil world is found in a holy God and because of Him we have an ancient invitation, a time capsule rediscovered again and again in John 3:16 (NLT) “For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that EVERYONE who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” He is still the only Way, Truth and Life we have (John 14:6).

Pastor Ross