Advent Tree Family Devotions – December 6

Fish

Matthew 4:19; 14:13‑21; Matthew 15:32-39; Luke 24:42-43; John 21:12-14

Since antiquity fish have been a major food source for people, and in ancient times fish were also an object of worship.  Coins picturing a woman with a fish tail honoring Atargatis, the Syrian “Fish Goddess”, were found at Ashkelon. Deuteronomy 4:18 specifically prohibits the Hebrews from creating images of fish to worship. 

God demonstrated His provision for His people when Jesus used five loaves and two fish to feed 5,000, seven loaves and “a few fish” to feed 4,000, and fish and bread to feed His disciples after the Resurrection.  He also provided proof of His bodily resurrection when he ate.  Christ’s early and great promise to his disciples, seven of whom were fishermen, was that He would make them “Fishers of Men”. 

The Greek word for fish (ἰχθύς ichthys) is formed by using the first letter of each of the words in Greek which stand for “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.”  As such, it was used as a symbol for Christ in the early church.  Early Christians would identify themselves to each other by drawing this symbol and thus avoiding the attention of foes.  The fish was also used as a direction symbol to places of worship.

Just as Jesus, early Christians often lost it all; family, friends, possessions, loved ones, and even their lives, for their faith.  Within only a few years of the Resurrection, Stephen the deacon was stoned by a Jerusalem mob (Acts 7) and James the apostle murdered by Herod Agrippa 1 (Acts 12).  In the succeeding centuries, Christians have been beheaded, crucified, thrown to the lions, and burned.  Even in modern times, Christians have found themselves in Nazi concentration camps, Soviet gulags, and Maoist prisons.  Believers in Christ are sometimes beaten, imprisoned, tortured and murdered for their faith in the Muslim and Hindu worlds, and throughout the earth. 

Western Culture, dominant on the globe for nearly 500 years, is built on a Judeo-Christian foundation.  But many at home and abroad want to crush this bedrock, and followers of Christ are more and more feeling the blows.  

Children of the King need never be afraid.  Since the dawn of time, the people and Church of our Lord have survived and grown despite the furious hate of Emperors, Secularists, Skeptics, Dictators, Monarchs, Bigots, and Fools.  The Word of God is the most powerful force in the universe, and Psalms 2 reminds us that nothing can stand against the works of the Almighty. The Church of God is an anvil that has worn out many hammers.  

During this Advent season, let us remember that one day every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.  The gates of Hell will not prevail against His people (Matthew 16:18).  Each time we see a fish, let us give thanks for those who were not afraid to suffer for their faith. Let us speak boldly for Christ, sharing the blessings He has given us yesterday, today and forever. 

The First Noel

The first Noel, the angel did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay;
In fields where they lay keeping their sheep,
On a cold winter’s night that was so deep.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

For all to see there was a star
Shining in the East beyond them far,
And to the earth it gave great light,
And so it continued both day and night.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

And by the light of that same star
The wise men came from country far
To seek for a King was their intent
And to follow the star wherever it went.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord
Who hath made Heaven and earth of naught
And with his blood mankind has bought.
Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

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