Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and she will name Him Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14
We see signs and symbols every day. They are a normal way for people to communicate without using their voice.
Some symbols give us warnings or alert us to an upcoming hazard or provide us with caution.
Others identify points of interest or a person’s association. Throughout history, signs have been used to communicate messages or meaning. One such sign for the disciples of Jesus was the fish symbol.
The Greek word for fish is “ichthys.” As early as the first century, Christians made an acrostic from this word: Iesous Christos Theou Yios Soter, i.e. Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior. The fish has plenty of other theological overtones as well, for Christ fed the 5,000 with 2 fishes and 5 loaves and called his disciples “fishers of men.” Water baptism created a parallel between fish and converts.
During the times of persecution by the Romans in the first centuries, the fish symbol was used among Christians in hiding to display meeting places for everyone to meet and worship. They could be spotted on trees or doorways or even tombs and at the same time, the fish symbol was also used by several pagan religions so they wouldn’t bring about suspicion from anyone about what it could be.
The fish symbol was used as a way of communicating whether someone was a Christian or whether they were someone looking to persecute Christians. When two people encountered each other, the Christian would draw the first half of the fish in the sand. If the other person drew the remaining half of the fish, correctly, then the Christian knew he/she was with a fellow Christian. If it was drawn and the other person didn’t finish the fish, it would appear as doodling in the dirt.
As with most of the symbols and language used by Christians, our enemy seeks to corrupt or hijack the meaning. With regards to the ichthys, there are two sides to this battle:
On one side of the battle, there’s the classic Christian fish used for centuries to denote a disciple.
On the other side is a fish with the same shape, only the tail is at the left end, the word DARWIN fills the inside, and the fish has sprouted feet. From that model emerged the EVOLVE fish, which has evolved enough to hold a wrench, the spaceship-shaped ALIEN fish, and countless others, including gay pride fish. There’s even a Jewish version known as the gefilte fish.
Recently another version has emerged, with a big Christian fish with the word TRUTH inside the body of the fish. Its mouth is wide open and is swallowing a smaller DARWIN fish. There’s also a dead DARWIN fish, lying on its back, its little feet facing the sky. It is ironic what has become of the once-secret symbol used by followers of Jesus who were forced to meet in secret.
But as with all things earthly or physical, their purpose for communication can eventually breakdown. I believe the Lord has always intended for symbols to have a short-term use. As with the snake on a pole, banners, and other icons, the items themselves are not the very thing they represent. For the Lord has only set up one viable symbol for the world to see. You and I, those who Name the Name of Jesus Christ are the best and most lasting symbol of all.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. – Ephesians 2:10
Daily Battle Order:
As we approach Easter, consider the reality of Jesus as the risen Lord. Think upon your unique place as a living symbol of a viable, breathing Kingdom Man. Embrace being His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works. Reflect upon these symbols of the Christian faith from the perspective of those who have gone before us. Those Christian “resistance fighters”, many of whom gave their lives for the cause of Christ, and used these symbols as ways to identify with one another as encouragement and as followers of Christ.
Join us tomorrow as we learn about another Christian symbol, the Tau-Rho .
Kingdom Men: The Joshua Commission invites you to join us for spiritual warfare battlefield training on the Chickamauga Battlefields; Friday- Sunday, April 9-11 2021.