A Matter of Interpretation

Interpretation

The angel of the Lord asked him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you
because your path is a reckless one before me”
. Numbers 22:32 (NIV)

Students sometimes interpret a teacher’s words quite differently from how they were originally intended. Jill Roberts tells a delightful story that illustrates the point: She was teaching on the topic of eternity and the seven year olds were hanging on her every word. It was one of those rare moments when the teacher has a captivated audience and wants to make the most of it.

So Jill decided to have an appeal and invite the children to ask Jesus to be their Lord and Saviour. With a sense of anticipation and excitement Jill wrapped up the lesson and declared, “Now if you give your life to Jesus then you will be able to go and live with Him one day.” As she was saying this, she was already thinking ahead to the time of prayer that would follow, when out of the blue, one little girl suddenly burst into tears and cried out, “No!  No!  No!  I don’t want to live with Jesus. I want to live with Mommy and Daddy!”

Jill’s story reminds us of how children can misunderstand the meaning of what is said, how they can sometimes miss the point.

But it’s a far greater tragedy when adults miss the point, when they fail to “interpret the signs of the times” (Matthew 16:3), when they look “only on the surface of things” (2 Corinthians 10:7), and when they are content with the shallow and superficial aspects of life.

Despite technological advances, the world has made little progress in understanding the spiritual realm. Billions of dollars have been spent on satellites to predict weather patterns and seismographs to predict earthquakes, but very little on helping people understand the realities of the kingdom of God. As the prophet says in Isaiah 27:11, “. . . this is a people without understanding . . .”

Nonetheless you can interpret the signs of our times. As a Christian you can incline your ear, open your eyes, apply your heart, “lean not on your own understanding”, keep a straight course, heed correction, and follow the precepts of the Lord (cf. Proverbs 15:32; 3:5; Psalm 110:10). For, as it says in 1 Corinthians 2:12, “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand.”

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