Commercial fishing

Modern day fisherman on the Sea of Galilee

While we were in Mongolia a few years back, I had a dream which over time has had a profound effect on my thinking.  In the dream I was handing a small group of people a book.  “It’s about how to be a commercial fisherman,”  I told them.  The only other thing I remember about the dream was telling them that the important principle was to fish where Jesus told them.

This dream seemed to be more than a post pizza (or in the case of Mongolia, mutton) dream and it started me thinking.  For Peter, Andrew, James and John, who were all commercial fishermen, when Jesus told them, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men,” they would have understood this in the context of commercial fishing.  They would not have thought hook and line (ie one fish at a time), they would have assumed fishing nets catching large numbers of fish.

I started investigating the different Scriptures on fishing in the Gospels.  More about that later.

Shortly after this we went to India and one of the people we were with works with fishermen on the coast of India.  So I asked him about how they fish.  (These would be primitive fishermen, probably very little different from fishermen in Jesus’ day.) He told me that they have different kinds of nets depending on the circumstances and what they are trying to catch.  They have a funnel net which is the kind of net they use when they don’t have boats.  They also have a drag net which is maybe 800 to 900 yards long for when they have more than one boat. There are actually several different kinds of nets that are used.

So what does it mean to be a commercial fisherman in the context of Jesus’ comments to his disciples?

More to follow.

3 replies on “Commercial fishing”

A quick search for the word ‘net’ in the NIV (I haven’t tried other versions) throws up some interesting finds.

In the Old Testament there are many names starting with ‘Net’, but not until the book of Job do we see nets specifically mentioned. ‘Net’ appears more often in the later books and they were clearly used for catching many creatures – fish, birds, antelope, and sometimes people are also mentioned.

Spreading a net is mentioned, so is throwing a net, and spreading a net out on a smooth rock to dry.

In the New Testament nets are cast or let down for fishing. The net was thrown across the water or lowered into it.

It’s notable that nets had to be prepared (laid out in the right way before use), mended, cleaned, and washed. When they were used they might be damaged by the weight of fish.

Perhaps some of this will come out in your next few posts, Felicity. It will be interesting to see. But so far the take-home message for me is we need to prepare whatever device or tool we will use for catching people for Jesus, we need to throw it wide and/or lower it deep, we need to pull it up when it is full (not too soon), and we need to repair it, clean it, and lay it out in the right way before we use it again.

I love this thought about nets. I am now hooked (if you see what I mean) and can’t wait to read your next post on nets.

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