Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

May 19, 2005
God has meaning behind 153 fish

How often have you read passages from the Bible then asked, “What does that mean?”

Many times as a pastor I asked that very question without getting any answer. My fellow clergy were of little or no help. They, just as I, were left with no understanding of certain texts within scripture. My training was in seminary where the overwhelming emphasis was on Greek contained in what they called the “new covenant.” Very little Hebrew was taught and almost nothing of the Hebrew culture and traditions.

I have come to realize that the key to unlocking the hidden treasures of the Bible is gained through a Hebraic understanding of God’s word. The “New Testament” is, for the most part, a commentary of the “Old Testament.”

In reality there is no “new” or “old.” The Bible is God’s progressive revelation to mankind, written by Hebrews, for Hebrews, about the God of the Hebrews (Exo 3:18). To really understand the Bible one must put on Hebrew lenses. Allow me to explain by answering the question I posed above.

Joh 21:11 Simon Peter therefore went up, and drew the net to land, full of great fishes, a hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, the net was not rent. Why is God so specific? Why one hundred fifty three fish? Why not one hundred fifty five? The number is there for a reason.

God does not waste His breath by speaking idle words.

Mat 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God is purposed. There is always a reason.

To gain understanding let us examine some writings from the Prophet Jeremiah; Jer 16:14 “Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when it shall no longer be said, ‘As the LORD lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ Jer 16:15 but ‘As the LORD lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where he had driven them.’ For I will bring them back to their own land that I gave to their fathers.

Jer 16:16 “Behold, I am sending for many fishers, declares the LORD, and they shall catch them. And afterward I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain and every hill, and out of the clefts of the rocks.

Jer 16:17 For my eyes are on all their ways. They are not hidden from me, nor is their iniquity concealed from my eyes.

Jer 16:18 But first I will doubly repay their iniquity and their sin, because they have polluted my land with the carcasses of their detestable idols, and have filled my inheritance with their abominations.”

Jer 16:19 O LORD, my strength and my stronghold, my refuge in the day of trouble, to you shall the nations come from the ends of the earth and say: “Our fathers have inherited nothing but lies, worthless things in which there is no profit.

Jeremiah prophesied that He would send forth “many fishers” to catch Israel who had been scattered throughout the nations. Jesus filled this prophecy with meaning as recorded in John’s writings; Joh 21:4 But when day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach: yet the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.

Joh 21:5 Jesus therefore saith unto them, Children, have ye aught to eat? They answered him, No.

Joh 21:6 And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.

Joh 21:7 That disciple therefore whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his coat about him (for he was naked), and cast himself into the sea.

Joh 21:8 But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from the land, but about two hundred cubits off), dragging the net full of fishes.

Joh 21:9 So when they got out upon the land, they see a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.

Joh 21:10 Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now taken.

Joh 21:11 Simon Peter therefore went up, and drew the net to land, full of great fishes, a hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, the net was not rent.

The Hebrews who were there with Jesus fully understood the meaning of the one hundred fifty three fish. Jesus had just used a teaching known as “remez,” a veiled allusion to a previous text (Jer 16:14-19).

He was not teaching them how to catch fish, they knew that all to well.

He was teaching them how to catch men. The net in verse six refers to the Torah (teachings and instructions of God-NOT LAW!) The net was cast into the sea (Groupings of people). They hauled in the net of one hundred fifty three fish (people).

But, who were the people? For every Hebrew letter or word there is a numerical equivalent. In this case one hundred fifty three equals “the sons of the living God.”

The word “Hebrew” means “one who has crossed over.” If a person accepts the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob he is grafted into the olive tree which is Israel. The root of the olive tree is Messiah Yeshua (Jesus).

By placing their trust in the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, they find their salvation and eternal life.

They become, sons of the living God. Once they cross over they find the freedom to keep the Torah (law), not lay it aside.

As Messianic believers we do not “have” to keep the law, we “get” to keep it.

The Torah, or as some choose to erroneously call it, the Old Testament, contains God’s teachings and instructions on how to walk in righteousness.

The New Testament simply admonishes us to walk in righteousness without explaining how.

We should have known how because we kept the law, however as a Christian I had listened to false teachings of man and refused to be “under the law.”

Today as a Messianic believer I find the freedom I never experienced before.

Come visit Brit-Ammi Messianic Congregation, experience it for yourself.

Jim Land is a Messianic rabbi who is ordained through HaMoadim (which means God’s appointed times) ministries. He was a Southern Baptist pastor for 16 years before becoming a Messianic believer. He is rabbi over the Brit-ammi Messianic Congregation located at 37 S. Main St. in Tooele. Services are held Saturdays at 3 p.m. and everyone is welcome.

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