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Discovery Magazine 8/1/2003

Riding the Waves of the Sea

Have you ever tried to fish from the bank of a lake while big fishing boats zoomed by, causing large waves that scare your fish? Some of those boats have huge motors that guzzle gas like a thirsty athlete downs Gatorade®, and they make noise like a helicopter. But they are fast, and they get people across the lake in a hurry. What kinds of boats do you think the men and women in Bible times used?

Of course, the boats during Bible times did not have huge motors that burned gasoline. Boat motors had not been invented back then. Many of the boats used sails. A sail is a large piece of fabric that is pulled up to the top of a long pole called a mast. Then the fabric is spread out in order to “catch” the wind. The wind blows into the sail and pushes the boat across the water. Sails are still used today on some boats. The boats that didn’t use sails often had oars in them, for men to row the boat where they wanted it to go. In the book of Jonah, the men in the boat with Jonah “rowed hard” using oars to try and reach land (Jonah 1:13). Some boats had oars and sails.

During Bible times, traveling by boat was often scary and dangerous. Bad weather could cause a ship to be tossed about on the waves. Sometimes the stormy weather got so bad that the boat would be broken to pieces and sunk. In the New Testament, at least twice Jesus saved His disciples from treacherous storms (see Matthew 14:24-33; Mark 4:35-41). The book of Acts tells the story of Paul being shipwrecked, and his boat being torn to pieces by the terrible weather. Fortunately for Paul, the Lord protected him and all the other prisoners on the boat. The ones who could swim jumped overboard and swam to safety, while the others floated on pieces of the broken ship (read Acts 27 for a full account of the story).

Boats played a big part in the lives of Jesus and His disciples. Four of the apostles were fishermen who made their living using boats. And one time, Jesus sat in a boat to teach because a huge crowd had gathered on the shore (Matthew 13:1-3). Jesus and the apostles used boats to travel many miles to tell others about God’s love. Let’s use our modern-day methods of transportation to do the same.

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