An Interpreter for God
Everyone of us has something to do in interpreting God to men. If we are his redeemed friends, the secret of the Lord is with us — not a secret, however, which we are to keep to ourselves — but one which it is ours to declare. We are in this world to reveal God and to interpret his words to others.
In the life of Joseph we have illustrations of this truth. Two of his fellow-prisoners had dreams. Joseph told them the meaning of their dreams. Pharaoh had a dream which Egypt's wise men could not interpret, and Joseph was brought from his prison to make known its meaning. In both of these cases, the dreams were words of God, whose interpretation it was important to learn. In the case of the prisoners, the dreams were forecastings of the future of the two men. In the case of Pharaoh they were revealings which the king needed to understand in order that he might make preparation for his people in the famine that was coming. It would have been a great calamity for Egypt and for the world, if Pharaoh had not learned the meaning of what God had spoken in his ear in the visions of the night. But without an interpreter, he never could have known.
We all need interpretations. There are mysterious writings we cannot read. We have our dreams and visions we cannot ourselves make out. Yet these writings and these visions are really God's words to us, divine teachings which we need to understand. They have meanings which it is intended we should learn, lessons which we ought to know. They hold messages of comfort for our sorrows, of guidance for our dark paths, of instruction for our ignorance. We cannot live as we should live, unless we learn the meaning of these divine words. Yet we cannot make it out for ourselves. We all need interpreters.
Take the little child. It comes into the world knowing nothing. On all sides are wonderful things — in nature, in its own life, in other lives, in books, in Providence; but the writings are all mysterious. The child understands nothing. Yet it is here to learn all it can of these writings. They are words of God which concern its whole life. It needs interpreters.
We all are only children of various growths. Life is full of enigmas for us. We pore over the Bible and continually come upon texts we cannot understand. There are mysteries in Providence — perhaps in the ways of God with our own life. Yet in these obscure texts and these dark providences — there are words of God hidden, words of life, of wisdom, of blessing. We need interpreters to read off for us the mysterious hidden writing of God.
Joseph found the two prisoners sad, and his heart was touched with sympathy. He became eager to comfort them. This revealed the true and noble spirit in him. He had a warm, gentle heart. No one can ever be greatly useful who does not enter sympathetically into the world's experiences.
Christ was moved with compassion wherever he saw pain or sin. At once his love went out toward the sufferer, and he sought to give help. Wherever we go we see sad faces which tell of unrest, of broken peace, of unsatisfied longings, of unanswered questions, of deep heart hungers. Sometimes it is baffled longing, or it is unrequited love; now it is desire to look into the future, again it is eagerness to learn more about God.
We are to be interpreters, each in his own way and of all the things he has learned. All the valuable knowledge of the world has come down to us through human interpreters. All along the ages there have been men who climbed to the mountain tops where they saw the earliest gleams of light, while it was yet dark in the valleys below, and who then came down and spoke of all they had seen.
The scientific knowledge we have has come to us from many interpreters, who have learned to read God's words in nature. To most people, nature's words mean almost nothing. People walk amid flowers, trees, rivers, lakes, hills and mountains, with the splendor of the skies above their heads — without any feeling of awe, hearing nothing to touch their hearts or thrill their spirits. But there have been interpreters — a few men with eyes which did see, and with ears which did hear, and they have told us something of the many wonderful things God has written in his works.
The literature of the world also is a series of interpretations. It is the harvest of long centuries of thought. In every age there have been men who have looked into the truth with deeper, clearer view than their fellows, and have heard whispers of God's voice; then coming forth from the valleys of silence, they have told the world what they heard.
The same is true of the spiritual truth which we possess. How have these divine revealings been brought to us? Not through any scrolls borne down from Heaven by angels — but through human interpreters.
God took Moses up into the mountain and talked with him as a man talks to his friend, revealing to him great truths about the divine being and character, giving him laws for the guidance of men. Then Moses became an interpreter to the world of the things God had spoken to him.
David was an interpreter. God drew him close to his own heart and breathed heavenly songs into his soul; then David went forth and struck his harp and sang, and the music is breathing yet through all the world.
John was an interpreter. He leaned on Christ's bosom, hearing the beatings of that great heart of love, learning the sacredness of friendship with his Lord. Then he passed out among men and told them what he had heard and felt and seen; and the air of this old earth has been warmer ever since, and more of love has been beating in human hearts.
But not alone have these and other inspired men been God's interpreters; many since have taken up the Word of God and have found in it blessed truths, precious comforts, which had lain undiscovered before, and have spoken out to men what they have heard in secret.
Indeed, God gives to every life that he sends into this world, some message of its own to give out to others. We cannot all write books or hymns; but if we live near the heart of Christ, there is not one of us into whose heart the Master will not speak some fragment of truth, some revealing of grace and love, or to whom he will not give some expression of comfort in sorrow, some gleam of Heaven's glory in the midst of this world's care.
God forms a close personal friendship with each of his redeemed children, and tells each one some secret of love which no other heart has ever before learned. That now is our peculiar message — God's own word to us; and we are God's prophets to foretell it again to the world. Each one of us should speak out what God has given him to speak. If it be but a single word, it will yet bless the world. Not to speak it, will leave the world a little poorer.
Suppose that Joseph, knowing by divine teaching the meaning of Pharaoh's dreams, had remained silent — what would his silence have cost the world?
Or suppose that John, having leaned upon Christ's heart and having learned the inner secrets of his love, had gone back to his fishing after the Ascension, failing to be an interpreter for Christ — what would the world have lost?
If one only of the millions of flowers that bloom in summer days refused to bloom, hiding its gifts of beauty — the world would be a little less lovely for the failure of the one flower.
Every human life that fails to tell the world its lesson, or that fails to interpret its own secret, keeping it locked up in the silence of the heart — withholds that which would have enriched earth's life. But every life, even the lowliest, that learns its word from God and then interprets it to others, adds a little to the world's sum of blessing and good.