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March 24, Day #84 – Fishing for Men

In Numbers 15-16, we see the Lord’s regulations about presenting supplementary offerings such as “special vows, freewill offerings, or festival offerings” (verse 3). From this we learn that God has certain standards by which He is to be freely and voluntarily worshiped. Often, we want to honor or worship God out of a special sense of gratitude or love for Him, but to do so, we must still conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of His majesty – it is unacceptable to worship God in some undignified or unholy way. Because God is “high, holy, lofty, and lifted up” (cf., Isaiah 6:1, ff.), He is wholly other than what we are, so our worship of Him must conform to His highest standards. In other words, we may not just come into His presence our way; He gets to decide how He will be approached. Unfortunately today, much corporate worship is not dignified or honoring to our God. Verses 22-29 deal with the presentation of offerings for unintentional sin. But in verses 30 through the end of chapter 16, we see what happens when people commit sins defiantly. We notice the nature of these sins: “blasphemy, despising the LORD’s Word, and breaking His commands” (verses 30-31). Such a sinner was to be “cut off” from his people (verse 31). In verses 32-36, we see how God dealt with a Sabbath-breaker – he “was stoned to death” (verse 36). In chapter 16, we observe the defiant sin of Korah, Dathan, et al. Defiant sin is blasphemy, and blasphemy borders on the unpardonable sin (cf., Mark 3:28-29). These men faced eternal consequences for their defiance against God.

Psalm 37:1-9 tells us not to “fret because of evil men or be envious of them” (verse 1). They do not last long – “like the grass that soon withers” (verse 2). Rather, this section contains twelve positive principles for us to apply: (1) trust in the LORD; (2) do good; (3) dwell in the land; (4) enjoy safe pasture; (5) take delight in the LORD; (6) commit our ways to Him; (7) continue to trust in Him; (8) be still before Him; (9) wait patiently for Him; (10) refrain from anger; (11) turn away from wrath; and (12) hope in the LORD. We recognize that the Sabbath-breaker, Korah, Dathan, and the others - about whom we just read – did not live their lives characterized by these principles. If we would learn to live like this, we would bring glory to our Lord, and for this, He wants to reward us with the desires of our hearts, bless us righteously, and vindicate us before evil people.

In Luke’s gospel – chapters 4:38-5:16 - we see the results of carrying out these principles in the various healings and then in the miraculous draught of fishes in chapter 5. These passages teach us that we have a mission. We notice in Luke 4:40 that “the sun was setting,” but Jesus continued to heal – apparently – until “daybreak” (verse 42). The implication of this truth is that even though it is late and night is falling, we still have work to do – a mission - and it may take us into the late hours. This idea is carried into chapter 5, where we see that Jesus calls His first disciples. He notices that the fishermen are “washing their nets” (verse 2). Of course, this was a necessary task for fishermen, but their main job is to catch fish – which they are not doing – when they are washing nets. The church’s main task is to reach people for Christ, and we must always be about that business. Jesus gets into Simon’s boat and teaches the people on the shore, but then He says, “Put out into deep water and let down the nets for a catch” (verse 4). How did Peter respond? He argued with the Lord (verse 5). We need to see here that faith in the One Who knows requires our trust and our obedience. Is it risky? Yes. But in deep water, the potential catch is vast. Peter gave in “because the Lord” said so (verse 5), and “they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break” (verse 6) – so many, in fact, that they “signaled their partners … to come help them” (verse 7). After this incident, Jesus tells Peter that “from now on, he will catch men,” … so Peter “left everything and followed Him” (verses 10-11). This section of Luke illustrates for us the whole nature of Christian missionary work – fishing for men.

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