“Bile is by nature bitter. But its effect on Tobit was a sweet cure. Thus likewise is the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, Whom we preach. He heals, He liberates, He consoles, He saves”.
According to the article,
The Fish, as mentioned in the Book of Tobit: Superstition, or a Prophetic Symbolism?
Let’s begin with the fish. Why did God perform these miracles of His through a fish?
This is something that we need to remember: What was the significance of the fish (= ΙΧΘΥΣ in the ancient Greek form), in the first Christian Church? The catacombs and the ancient Christian Churches are full of this symbol (see images above), whose letters are an acronym that stands for the phrase:
“Ιησούς (Jesus) Χριστός (Christ) Θεού (God’s) Υιός (Son) Σωτήρ (Saviour)“.
Thus, by utilizing a fish for the cure, in compliance with the instructions of the Angel Raphael, the book of Tobit is providing us with the first message that: “healing, and victory over demons, is obtained only through Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Saviour.”
CONSUMING THE FLESH
The second prophetic symbolism is provided through the consumption of the flesh of the fish that they caught. The text says: “...and after roasting the fish, they ate it.” (ch.6:5). In the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, “…for my flesh is truly nourishment…” (John 6:55)
THE HEART AND LIVER
Now, what is the role of heart and liver? What else, but the circulation and the purification-filtering of BLOOD. Both organs are the par excellence organs that have to do with our blood! That is why these two organs were especially chosen by the Angel. God is the One Who “…hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son, in whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins: (Colossians 1:13-14). This deliverance was depicted with Sarra’s deliverance from the demon that had held her captive, in the powers of darkness! Through the “fish” (ΙΧΘΥΣ) Jesus Christ, we therefore have here a pre-depiction of in-Christ deliverance! Apart from this, we should not overlook the connection between the heart and love – and in this example the love of Christ, which went as far as the giving of His Blood: “..unto Him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood…” (Revelation 1:5).
But we notice that the heart and the liver were also used during censing! Why? Doesn’t the Holy Bible speak of “…golden vials full of fragrances, which are the prayers of saints…“? (Revelation 5:8). Doesn’t this also indicate that PRAYER saves the saintly from the powers of Satan, through the Blood (heart, liver symbols) of Jesus Christ? And isn’t smoke another symbol of the Holy Spirit? “…and the priests were not able to stand in order to serve, on account of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of God…” (2 Chronicles 5:14). So, isn’t the incense a pre-depiction of the prayer of the Saints in the Holy Spirit, offered in Jesus Christ?
E. THE BILE
But then, wasn’t the healing of the blind Tobit yet another pre-depiction of the words of the Holy Bible, which Christ had repeated in reference to His Person? “…The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me; that is why He anointed Me: He sent Me to bring the joyous news to the poor, to heal those with crushed hearts, to preach liberation to those who are held captive, and the restoration of vision to the blind, to send the spiritually crushed towards freedom, to preach the time that is acceptable to the Lord..” (Luke 4:18,19). Isn’t Tobit’s incident a case of restored sight, liberation and consolation to the crushed spirits, and joyous news to the poor? And all these things through Christ the ΙΧΘΥΣ?
Pay special attention here: The very Gospel of salvation, liberation and healing by Christ, to all concerned, was pre-symbolized in a wondrous manner by means of the bile of the ΙΧΘΥΣ.
Remember what the Holy Bible says about the promises of the Gospel: “And I went towards the angel, asking him to give me the small book. And he said to me: Take it, and eat it whole; and it shall make your belly bitter, but your mouth shall be sweet, like honey. And I took the small book from the hand of the angel and I ate it whole; and my mouth was as sweet as honey, and after I had eaten it, my belly was made bitter. And he said to me: You must again prophesy for peoples and nations and tongues and many kings..” (Revelation 10:9-11).
Bile is by nature bitter. But its effect on Tobit was a sweet cure. Thus likewise is the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, Whom we preach. He heals, He liberates, He consoles, He saves. Sweet is the Gospel to the mouth – a Gospel of consolation, of healing, of liberation… However, it is bitter to all those who “assimilate” it and adjust their life to it, because it is written that: “all who desire to live in a pious manner, in Jesus Christ, shall be persecuted…” (2 Tim. 3:12).
It is a Gospel that is preached: “with much patience, with tribulations, with needs, with sorrows, with beatings, with imprisonment, with disorderliness, with pains, with vigils, with fasting…” (2 Cor. 6:4,5).
It is a therapeutic and miraculous Gospel, whose enemies however strive to stifle it today, as they did back then, and as they will, through to the end of Time: “And, having summoned them, they ordered them to not speak at all, nor to teach in the name of Jesus. However, in response to them, Peter and John said: If it is fair before God to listen to you rather than God, then be your own judges; because we cannot refrain from telling what we saw and heard. And they, after threatening them again, sent them away.” (Acts 4:18-21).
The bile of the fish ΙΧΘΥΣ is a symbol of the Gospel of Christ, which, albeit bitter by worldly standards – as opposed to Godly for those who are evangelized – is sweet-tasting to the righteous with its healing and brings light into their eyes, just as the righteous Tobit saw the light after being treated with the bitter bile, “so that the eyes of your mind may be enlightened, so that you may know what the hope within His invitation is and what the wealth of glory of His inheritance in the saints is.” (Ephesians 1:18).
THE HEALING OF CREATION AND THE MISSION OF THE SON BY THE FATHER
And what can one say about the seemingly “charming” and “insignificant” detail that the book of Tobit gives us, with the domestic dog that followed Tobias throughout his journey? Remember what the book says: “… and Raphael said to Tobias: ‘do you not know, brother, how you left your father? 2. Let us move ahead of your wife and let us prepare the house.3. Also take the gall of the fish in your hand.’ And they went forth, and the dog went along behind them.” (Tobit 1:1-4).
Now let us focus on the overall picture, and consider the symbolisms contained therein: Father-Son-Angels-Gospel-Bride-Creation. What exactly do we have here?
Notice the prophetic symbolism here also:
An angel encourages and prompts the Son to return to His Father,
as per: “…and He was there in the desert for 40 days, being tempted by satan; and He was together with the beasts, and angels waited upon Him” (Mark 1:13)
and per: “…Father, if You want, take away this cup; but let not My will be done, but let Yours be done. And an angel from heaven appeared before Him waiting upon Him and fortifying Him…” (Luke 22:42).
Just as we see Tobias being fortified by the Angel Raphael and coming out victorious in this adventure by vanquishing the demon and by healing and preaching hope, we similarly note how Christ was fortified by an angel; how He spanned His earthly course among human-looking beasts and demons and how, even through to the end, during His agonized prayer at the Mount of Olives, He was encouraged by an angel to return as a victor to His Father.
the house is prepared for the Bride,
as per: “In My Father’s house are many mansions, otherwise I would have told you! Behold, I go now to prepare a place for you. And after I go and prepare a place for you, I shall come again, and I shall take you along with Me, so that you too will be wherever I am…” (John 14:2,3).
And who is the bride of Christ? “You men, love your wives just as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her sake” (Ephes.5:25).
And that is how Tobias is described as having loved Sarra, and having DARED to marry her, even though he knew he was in deadly danger of the demon that was guarding her as his captive. He gave himself up for her sake and he in fact saved her, and was now leaving her behind temporarily and was moving on ahead of her, in order to prepare the house. Christ had similarly given up His life for the sake of His bride – the Church – and had gone on ahead to His Father’s place in order to prepare a place for her there, “…and thus, we shall be together always, with the Lord ” (1 Thess. 4:17).
with the Gospel held in their hand,
as per the angel’s instructions to Tobit: ” Also take the gall of the fish in your hand.’ And they went forth…”, (Tobit 11:3).
As per: “go forth and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to uphold everything as I have instructed you; and behold, I shall be with you every day, until the end of the ages.” (Matth. 28:19,20).
Indeed, just as Tobias had taken the gall (=the symbol of the Gospel) in his hand during his departure, thus did the Son depart, after having obtained and delivered the Gospel to His disciples, instructing them to preach it to all the nations.
with Creation following behind them
And, just like their faithful dog, who had followed them throughout their adventurous journey, thus Creation follows behind Mankind in anticipation of his glorification when in the end, in the age to come, it too will be partaking of the Divine Blessings,
as per: “the great expectation of Creation is the anticipation of the revelation unto the children of God; because Nature was subjected to futility, not willingly, but on account of the one who subjected it, in the hope that Creation itself will also be freed from the bondage of corruption and will partake of the freedom of the glory of God’s children.” (Romans 8:19-21).
The dog walks excitedly behind the angel and the man, following them happily towards the joy and glory that will be revealed in Tobit’s household, and towards the bounteous feast of their rejoicing. Thus also will Creation follow – behind Man and Angels – the road towards incorruptibility and blessing, in the house of the Father.
The sequence is as follows: Angels advance ahead of all, showing the way and assisting,
As per: “the word that was uttered, through angels” (Hebr. 2:2), and as per: “Are they not all of them ministering spirits, who are sent to minister to those who are to inherit salvation?” (Hebr.1:14).
Remember, it was also angels who had reminded the Old Testament Man: “do you not know, brother, how you left your father?” (Tobit 11:2), as per the example of the “prodigal Son” who, after a period of time similarly returned to his Father. This was also how the angels during the Old Testament period used to walk ahead of man, ushering him towards salvation and reminding him of Adam’s estrangement from the Father; now, through Jesus Christ, man is again ushered into the house of the Father, while the rest of Creation follows behind man towards its own incorruptibility, the way that Tobias’ dog faithfully tagged along.
This is a clearly prophetic depiction, which has been given from the very beginning of Tobit’s book, but also in another verse of Tobit, where the father says to the son:
“…be prepared for the road; and may you fare well on it· And his son prepared whatever was necessary for the journey. And his father said to him: Travel together with this person; for the God who dwells in heaven will facilitate your path, and His angel will travel together with you. And they both went out to depart, and the youth’s dog along with them. (Tobit 5:17).
We have the same parallel picture here also: The Father sends His Son to obtain what is His, and invites Him to “travel together with man”. On this journey (which is God’s plan for salvation), it was angels who led the way, followed by mankind, and lastly, Creation itself, which will also be entering the glory of incorruptibility.