Fishy Tales

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We do not need a scientific study to tell us that some people love to fish – simple observation shouts that out as a fact. Oceans, lakes, rivers and streams are teaming with fishermen. We fish for food, we fish for sport, we fish for recreation, and often we fish for nothing at all – that is, we have nothing to show for our efforts. We are told what species of fish to fish for, how many we can keep and how to keep them. We are told to use barbless hooks and that in some provinces and locations of Canada where I live, the possession limit is zero – that means you cannot keep any fish at all. We pay a lot of money for licenses, equipment, boats and the vehicles that get us to our favorite holes – and still we go fishing.

The Bible tells us of a river coming from the throne of God in His Kingdom, which is teaming with fish (that is, it must be because there, too, fishermen are lined up shoulder to shoulder, just fishing).  We can read about this in Ezekiel 47:7-10.  There is something fascinating about learning how to catch fish. You need to know where, when and how to fish to be successful. You need to “feel” the bite or tug on the line and learn just when to “set” the hook. A fisherman learns patience and skill – he even resorts to talking to fish – “Here fishy fishy” I have heard grown men call. That can be followed by: “I don’t want to hurt you; I just want to eat you.”

One wonders why God seemed to favor fishermen when He chose disciples for Jesus. We also find many wonderful biblical stories about fish that teach us practical lessons to be used in our own lives. (Matthew 14:26) How about fishermen telling you an account regarding someone who could calm the stormy sea and tell the wind and waves to behave themselves? (Mark 4:36-39 Mark 4:36-39 [36] And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. [37] And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. [38] And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say to him, Master, care you not that we perish? [39] And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
American King James Version×
) Better yet, what if a fisherman told you about a friend who could tell you on which side of the boat you should cast your nets after catching nothing all day – and then the nets almost burst with fish (John 21:5-6 John 21:5-6 [5] Then Jesus said to them, Children, have you any meat? They answered him, No. [6] And he said to them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and you shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.
American King James Version×
). Perhaps a most delightful tale was the one about a man who could actually have a fish line up at the shore with a gold coin in its mouths for you so you can pay your taxes (Matthew 17:27).  No wonder fishing fascinates people.

We have the amazing story of when God prepared a special fish for Jonah to ride in (Jonah 1:17 Jonah 1:17Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
American King James Version×
). The Bible tells of “leviathan” which seems to be a fish only God can catch (Job 41:1 Job 41:1Can you draw out leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with a cord which you let down?
American King James Version×
). God knew all about fish and fishermen. He created fish on the fifth day (Genesis 1:20-23 Genesis 1:20-23 [20] And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that has life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. [21] And God created great whales, and every living creature that moves, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. [22] And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. [23] And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
American King James Version×
) and fishermen on the sixth day (Genesis 1:26, 31). Jesus said He could take simple fishermen and turn fishermen into fishers of men (Matthew 4:18-19).  It seems some of the concepts in fishing are helpful in serving God.

This brings us to consider a much more important reason for bringing up the subject of fish and fishermen. There is a great work God is doing with humans. He wants all to be saved (I Timothy 2:4), but because salvation is not automatic, some will fail. That failure is not due to any shortcomings of God – it happens because God allows us to choose whether or not we want eternal life on His terms (there are no other terms).

How to advance in the skilful art of fishing

Fishermen who become fishers of men use many of the techniques that experts use to entice a fish. They change lures to attract different fish or to match the kind of bait that the fish are eating. They are very patient and sensitive to each tug on the line. They try to avoid having the hook become fouled or snagged in the weeds. God’s fishermen also recognize the fact that only God the Father can really draw the fish (John 6:44). They know that many are calledto the lure, but few are chosen to respond(Matthew 20:16). A fish-finder can show when there are fish below a boat, but very few fish actually take the hook. Suddenly one fish can’t seem to resist. Ice fishing is interesting as you can see several fish look at a lure, swim up to your bait hook, look again and then swim away. All of a sudden there is one who just takes the bait and he is yours (maybe). Those who are chosen by God are those whom God has decided are ready for His offer of the sacrifice of His Son so their sins may be forgiven. It is they who receive His Holy Spirit and have their names recorded in His book of life (Daniel 12:1).  Some are small and some greater – God does not call many of the mighty of this earth (1 Corinthians 1:26).  He calls those who are a little "hungry.”

The greatest numbers of humans on this earth live at or near the oceans and seas. Others are near large rivers. One of the most fascinating adventures I can recall is snorkeling in waters off Maui. The myriad types and kinds of fish – different colors, shapes and sizes is a wonder that never ceases to amaze us. We were told that an even greater variety can be found in the waters near Thailand and the Philippines. What joy it must have given God to design and create the wonders of the deep. From the 20 ton whales to the tiniest of fish, all are perfectly formed and designed for survival. They provide a food source that is to be found all over the world. As the earth became more and more settled, it was fish that provided the most readily attainable food and thus made world travel across the oceans possible. Fresh food was hard to take along on voyages that lasted months and years.

God does have a masterful purpose for the fish that He catches. He calls them His “children” and “sons and daughters.” (Romans 8:16-17). They become like Him (I John 3:2 John 3:2The same came to Jesus by night, and said to him, Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that you do, except God be with him.
American King James Version×
). God’s church has the responsibility to fish in this world (Matthew 28:19). We too must be taught to be fishers of men – we too must learn to trust God when God says “lower the nets” because that is no fish story. To Him belongs all the glory forever. Truly He is the greatest fisherman of all time!

For more on God's plan request the free study aid, What is Your Destiny?

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