Habakkuk 1:16 GNB
‘They even worship their nets and offer sacrifices to them, because their nets provide them with the best of everything.’
Continuing with the theme of fishing, Habakkuk adds that the Chaldeans attributed their gain (their netted catch) to their own military strength, their weapons of warfare and their false gods, rather than to the true God.
They Idolised their nets.
The picture of the net in Habakkuk 1:16 is related to what we saw in the previous two verses—the idea that men were reduced to the level of fishes and creeping things. So the net then speaks of the instruments used by the Chaldeans by which they subdued the opposition. Because these were the means of their success, they also became a focus of their worship.
Matthew Henry comments, “They admire their own cleverness and contrivance” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
Whatever we place our trust in becomes a god—power, popularity, prosperity, performance, etc.
- By this standard, is there anything in your life that might be catagorised as a god?
- Where might you be tempted to take the glory for some outward success, when in fact it is God who enabled you to obtain the achievement in the first place?
We find numerous illustrations of this attitude in the workplace. Intoxicated by pride, the worldly see the increase of their wealth and power as evidence of their own personal skill and strength. They couldn’t be more wrong.
Unfortunately, even among those who claim to be Christians, there are people who forget God’s encouragement in His Word: “In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:6 ESV) when it comes to secular matters.
- In what types of situations are you tempted to rely on your own resources, rather than seeking the help of the Holy Spirit?
Self-reliance, self-conceit, self-exaltation, self-seeking, self-worship, are evils that intrude— even into the church and our Christian lives.
We all need a deeper awareness of God’s presence, and to allow Him to permeate our lives.
Let’s move away from the Chaldean problem for a moment.
- Take a look at the above picture of fishermen drawing in their nets.What thoughts come to mind?
An Amazing Life-changing Catch.
Can you think of two occasions in Scripture when Jesus blessed those fishermen-disciples who had toiled all night and yet caught no fish (Luke 5:5-10; John 21:3-11)?
The first occasion was in the early days of Jesus’ ministry. Following Jesus’ instructions, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break (Luke 5:6 NIV). This had an amazing effect on the disciples. (Did you get that one?)
Jesus followed that miraculous catch with their new calling: “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people” (Luke 5:10 NIV).
A Miraculous Catch
The second occasion came at the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, after His resurrection from the dead. Jesus had instructed His followers to meet with Him in Galilee. They waited, but Jesus delayed His arrival. Impatient Peter could not bear being idle, so he announced that he was going fishing, and six others decided to join him. They went out in a boat. Although they fished all night, they did not catch even one single minnow.
Jesus appeared on the shoreline and asked, “Friends, have you caught anything?” ( John 21:5 CEV). When they admitted their failure, Jesus instructed them to “Let your net down on the right side of your boat, and you will catch some fish” (John 21:6 CEV).
Their catch was enormous. “The net was so full of fish that they could not drag it up into the boat”(John 21:6 CEV). When they finally beached their boat on the shore, Jesus instructed them to bring some of their fish so they could have a fish braai (barbecue). “Simon Peter got back into the boat and dragged the net to shore. In it were one hundred fifty-three large fish, but still the net did not rip” (John 21:11 CEV). (How did you do? Did you get both occasions?)Like the early disciples we still have a job to do - continue fishing for people for the kingdom. Click To Tweet
A full net of fish.
F C Payne has written a fascinating book entitled ‘Seal of God’, in which he teaches about Bible numerics. His comments relating to John 21:11 are extremely enlightening. He points out that the Greek word for ‘fishes’ is ICHTHES with a numerical value of 1,224 (8 x 153). While the Greek word for ‘net’ is DIKTOUN which has the identical value 1224 (8 x 153).
Now then what is the significance of the numbers 8 and 153? Payne points out that the number 8 symbolises ‘reurrection or new begining’ while 153 symbolises the ‘completed church’. So if there had been one fish less in the net, the picture would not have been complete. Once the completed catch had been drawn up on the shore, Jesus said, “Come and dine,” which Payne associates with the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. (Adapted from ‘Seal of God’ by F C Payne)
So then, until God’s appointed number of Christ’s followers has been reached, like the early disciples we still have a job to do— to continue fishing for new additions to the kingdom.
Praise the Lord, we who have opened our lives to Jesus are already in His net. Let us not idolise anything, or anyone, above Him.
If you are not sure that you are in His net, please contact your pastor or someone you know to be a committed Christian, who will be able to help you.
Will you share the significance of the number 153 with someone in the next 24 hours? Please share with me in the comment section.
P.S. If you haven’t yet read the background to the prophecy, please do. It will benefit you throughout this series of studies.