The fish from Galilee figures prominently in the ministry of Jesus. The early followers of Jesus were called followers of The Way, and were known by the symbol of the fish. Jesus called four of His disciples who were fishermen to His ministry as apostles. He told them they would instead be fishers of men. Jesus fed 5000 with two fish caught from the Galilean sea. He rebuked the sea of Galilee when it struck up a storm like to drown the men on the boat (though Jesus slept). He called Peter to His ministry by telling fishless and dispirited Peter to drop his nets on the other side of the boat and so he did and drew in many fish. He answered the question about temple taxes by telling Peter to get a fish and then extracted a coin from its mouth, using it to pay the temple tax. That fish has become known as St. Peter’s Fish to this day. He made His resurrected self known to His disciples by cooking them a supper of fish and ate with them on the shores of the sea of Galilee. Fish from the mosaic of a third or fourth-century church floor from Megiddo, only recently discovered in 2005
The importance of the fish in the bible and especially from the New Testament through the emphasis by Jesus and His use of the fish as a means of parable, work, food, and symbol cannot be overstated. Though the Sea of Galilee is only 33 miles in circumference, 13 miles long, and 8 miles wide, it has supported fishing in abundance for over 2000 years. The first-century historian Josephus was so impressed by the area that he wrote, “One may call this place the ambition of Nature.” Josephus reported a thriving fishing industry at that time, with 230 boats regularly working in the lake.
A preacher in the later 1800s, visiting the Sea of Galilee noted, “the density of the shoals of fish in the Sea of Galilee can scarcely be conceived by those who have not witnessed them”. That abundance has kept pace with the population increase through 2005.
Indeed, the Sea of Galilee yielded about 300 tons of fish in 2005. However, disaster has struck. The haul for 2009 was only 8 tons. The drop has been precipitous, and thus in a drastic move, now Fishing is banned on the Sea of Galilee “Fishing in the Sea of Galilee has been banned, Israel’s Ministry of Agriculture has announced, amid claims stocks have fallen to a dangerous low. …The decree ends a tradition which has continued virtually unchanged since Biblical times”
It feels sad, and also spiritually agitating. No more fish to catch! Anyone who knows that the call of a Christian to be fishers of men knows that this is a terrible loss, metaphorically speaking. The fish of the Sea of Galilee is such an important part of what Jesus did to show us His principles, that to lose the fish after so long and so unexpectedly almost feels like God is withdrawing His blessing on Israel. It feels like it is a signal … of something. I have no words. Except, pray for Israel.
UPDATE: I’m not sure exactly what the verses mean in relation to the story but I feel they do have relation to it.
“Why have You made men like the fish of the sea, Like creeping things without a ruler over them?” Hab 1:14
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a large net thrown into the sea. It collected every kind [of fish], and when it was full, they dragged it ashore, sat down, and gathered the good [fish] into containers, but threw out the worthless ones.” [Matthew 13:47-48]