The Bible has a lot to say about about water. The message of scripture is framed in many different ways in order that as many people as possible understand. Everything from kings and their armies to a woman sweeping the floor is used to illustrate what the Kingdom of God is like. Jesus told parables about sowing seeds, harvesting grain, searching for pearls, buying oil for lamps, all things that regular people could understand. It should come as no surprise then that water is used in the Old and New Testaments because every living thing needs water. But I want to focus more specifically on the things people do in or on the water.
In the very beginning of the Bible narrative we find God hovering over the face of the waters. While preparing a sermon on God dealing with Noah (which you can listen to on Monday, I’ll come back with a link) I realized that there is a lot of boating and fishing in the Bible. God told Noah to build an ark and he spent the next 150 years doing all the Lord commanded him. Presumably there had been other boats before but God used a flood of water to bring judgement and a boat to save the righteous. Jonah would later use a boat in an attempt to run away from God but found he couldn’t run far enough or fast enough to escape. Peter was a fisherman and on his boat when he left it behind to follow Jesus. Speaking of Jesus, he often preached from a boat to a crowd gathered on the shore or he and the disciples boated away from those same crowds just to get some much needed rest. On one occasion Jesus walked on water before entering their boat; so did Peter for a little bit. Jesus used many symbols and metaphors for the Christian life, one of them being fishers of men. One of the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus involved a camp fire and roasted fish for the disciples that had been out all night fishing. The Apostle Paul was shipwrecked, probably on Malta, and had to survive a winter before being rescued. John wrote the final book of the Bible, Revelation, while exiled on the Isle of Patmos. He was on land but imprisoned by water.
Here’s the thing: I don’t really like water. I know how to swim but it’s not really my favorite thing. I have ridden a Sea-Doo and been out on a pontoon boat. I have swam in the ocean but have never been on a cruise ship. My grandfather taught me how to fish but I haven’t been in many years. It’s just not my thing. So I was looking through scripture at all of the men of God who either sailed or fished; Noah, Jonah, Peter, Paul and Jesus himself. And I have to wonder if I’m missing out by not caring for that kind of stuff. There’s no right or wrong answer, just something I was thinking about.
I found consolation though. The new heaven and earth John saw is described in Revelation 21. He said the old ones had passed away and there was no more sea. There may be a river of life flowing from the throne but there is no mention of boats or fishing. Most of the earth’s surface today is covered by oceans and apparently that will done away with. So as a land lover it seems that the new heaven and earth God makes will be to my liking. I’m spending my life here getting ready for it.