The Parables of the Hidden Treasure, the Pearl of Great Price and the Fishing Net

To Be Like Yeshua Means – To Understand the Parables of the Kingdom

We have been looking at the parables of Yeshua from Matthew 13 for the last five posts.  In this post, we will look at three more of His parables the hidden treasure, the pearl of great price and the fishing net

The Parable of the Hidden Treasure

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. A man found it, hid it again, then in great joy went and sold everything he owned, and bought that field.” ~ Matthew 13:44

To teach the inestimable value of the Kingdom of Heaven and of being part of that kingdom, Yeshua described it as a treasure hidden in a fieldThe man who found the treasure would have been a day laborer who could get possession by quitting his job and then returning to recover his find.

According to rabbinic law, if a worker came across buried treasure in someone else’s field and lifted it out, the treasure would belong to the owner.  In this story, the laborer was careful not to lift out the treasure.  To obtain this treasure, which far surpassed the value of everything he owned, he would have to sell everything so he could buy the field.  He did this joyfully.  The man who discovered the treasure in the field stumbled upon it by accident but knew its value when he found it.  Some have wondered about the morality of a man obtaining a treasure in this way, but Yeshua was not teaching a moral lesson.  He was merely showing the value of the treasure that is worth every sacrifice and commitment to obtain.  The Kingdom of Heaven is more valuable than anything else we can have, and a person must be willing to give up everything to obtain it.

Once again, the symbolism in the Tanakh assists us in our interpretation.  One commentator[1] suggests that the treasure is the nation of Israel (see Exodus 19:5; Ps. 135:4).  Israel was created to bring glory to God, but it failed.  It became a nation hidden, a treasure not being invested to produce dividends for God.  Yeshua gave His all to purchase the whole world in order to save the nation (see John 11:51).  On the execution stake, Yeshua died for the whole world; but in a special way, He died for Israel (Isaiah 53:8).  The nation suffered judgment and seeming destruction, but in God’s sight it is hidden and will be revealed again in glory.  Politically, the nation was reborn on May 14, 1948.  But the nation is currently far from what it ought to be spiritually.  God sees Israel as His treasure, and one day He will establish her in His glorious kingdom.

The parable of the hidden treasure and the parable of the pearl merchant (13:45-46) form a pair and belong together.  They note a single event in the past, and teach the inestimable value of the kingdom.

“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for fine pearls.  On finding one very valuable pearl he went away, sold everything he owned and bought it.” ~ Matthew 13:45-46

In the previous parable, Yeshua described a man stumbling upon a treasure.  In this parable, Yeshua pictured a wealthy pearl merchant.  Pearls were especially valued in the Near East.  A pearl of great price could obviously set up this merchant for life.  Knowing pearls, this merchant searched earnestly for one of great value.  When he found it, he sold everything he had to buy it.  Some may discover the Kingdom; some may seek earnestly and finally obtain it.  In both cases, the men recognized the value of what they had found and willingly invested everything to obtain it.  The Kingdom of Heaven is so valuable that it calls for a total investment – radical discipleship – from those who find it.

The treasure and pearl parables tell of the joy of finding peace with God.  There’s no other word to express it.  Both stories involve people who very happily find the answer to their life’s hopes and dreams.  That’s what becoming a Believer is all about: deepest needs are met, deepest longings satisfied, deepest hurts bandaged, and a future and a hope unlike any other.  It all adds up to joy!  If your faith is grim and your life bleak, let God put some of this wonderful happiness back where it should be.

Wiersbe suggests that the pearl represents the Messianic community.  In 1 Corinthians 10:32, Rabbi Sha’ul makes a distinction between Jews, Gentiles, and the Messianic community.  Today, the Messianic community, the body of Yeshua, is composed of believing Jews and Gentiles (Ephesians 2:11ff).

Unlike most other gems, the pearl is a unity – it cannot be carved like a diamond or an emerald.  The Messianic community is a unity (Ephesians 4:4-6), even though the professing Messianic community on earth is divided due to doctrinal differences.  Like a pearl, the Messianic community is the product of suffering.  Yeshua died for the Messianic community (Ephesians 5:25) and His suffering on the execution stake made possible her birth.  A pearl grows gradually, and the Messianic community grows gradually as the Spirit convicts and converts sinners.  No one can see the making of the pearl, for it is hidden in the shell of the oyster under the waters.  No one can see the growth of His Messianic community in the world.  The Messianic community is among the nations today and one day will be revealed in all its beauty.  So, in spite of Satan’s subtle working in this world, Yeshua is forming His Messianic community.  He sold all that He had to purchase His Messianic community, and nothing the Adversary can do will cause Him to fail.  There is but one Messianic community, a pearl of great price, though there are many local Messianic communities.

The Fishing Net

“Once more, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a net thrown into the lake, that caught all kinds of fish.  When it was full, the fishermen brought the net up onto the shore, sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad fish away.  So it will be at the close of the age — the angels will go forth and separate the evil people from among the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where they will wail and grind their teeth.” ~ Matthew 13: 47-50

The parable of the fishing net deals with the dividing of people much as the parable of the wheat and weeds does.  This parable pictures a dragnet perhaps drawn between two boats or a large net with one end attached to shore and the other taken to sea by a boat.  The net is dragged in a wide semi-circle with the top held up by corks and the bottom slightly weighted.  All kinds of fish are caught in the net.  The fishermen then draw the net to the beach where they sort the fish.  They put good fish into baskets and throw away the bad (inedible or unclean as in Leviticus 11:10-11) ones.

The preaching of the Gospel in the world does not convert the world.  It is like this huge dragnet that gathers all kinds of fish, some good and some bad.  At the end of the age, God will separate the true believers from the false; the good from the bad.  When Yeshua returns to earth, to fight the battle of Armageddon (Revelation 19:11ff), He will separate Believers and unbelievers.

Twice in this series of parables Yeshua used the phrase the close of the age (Matthew 13:39, 49).  He was not referring to the end of this Messianic Community Age, because the truth about the Messianic community was not shared with the talmidim until later (Matthew 16:18).  The age He referred to is the Jewish age at the close of the great Tribulation described in Matthew 24:1-31 and Revelation 6-19.  We must be careful not to read into these passages in Matthew the truths later given through Sha’ul and the other emissaries.

In my next post, we will wrap up our study of Matthew 13 my examining Yeshua’s final words on this topic of parables.

Click here for PDF version.

[1] Warren Wiersbe – Be Loyal-Matthew

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