“What if I asked someone to relay a message to my wife for me? Imagine that I ask Cliff to go to my wife and tell her that she reminds me of a rose. If my wife should ask Cliff, “What did he mean by that,” how would he answer her? He could say, “I guess he means you’re sticky and you attract bugs.”
Of course this is not what my Pastor meant to convey… at least I hope not, or he’s in big trouble. The problem is that he requested a statement to be made that could be interpreted many ways. The only one who knows for sure what was meant was my Pastor.
Acknowledging the distress that could be caused with a simple misunderstanding like the one in this story, imagine how high the stakes are when it comes to hearing the right message when reading the Word of God.
We could easily attribute the most catastrophic event known to humanity to poor interpretation. Remember what both Satan, Adam, and Eve did in the Garden of Eden? They twisted what God had said and came up with a preferred version of their own making. In truth, bad interpretation can be seen in every act of disobedience we have recorded in the Bible.
The way we interpret “what God has said” is directly related to how we live our lives. Adam and Eve misinterpreted what God had said, followed their false understanding, and the entire creation was cursed.
Look for a moment at how it all played out. Satan asks, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?’” God instead had told Adam, “You may eat of every tree in the garden… except that one.”
Eve then adds to God’s words with a couple of her own, “…neither shall you touch it.” The door is now open for Satan to have a field day. He questions God’s justice and then makes them a worthless offer… because everything he offers, they already possess in authenticity. God made man in His own image.
Satan offers them the ability to be like God and to know good and evil. They leaned on their own understanding, were filled with arrogance, and then disobeyed.
Much of what was at stake for Adam is at stake for us also. The false authority they assumed really did make them like God, but it was a cheap and man-made knock off.
If we fast-forwarded our story to the days when Jesus walked the earth, we find the Pharisees following in the footsteps of their oldest ancestors. Again and again, Jesus confronts their bad interpretations of His Word, leaving them walking in disobedience just as Adam did.
We must hear and properly respond to “what God has said,” not what we would like for Him to have said. He really is the Rose of Sharon… and we need to be perfectly clear on what He meant by that.