Shall Not God
Avenge His Own?
This chapter is based on
the following verses:
CHRIST had been speaking of the period just
before His second coming, and of the perils through which His followers must pass. With
special reference to that time He related the parable "to this end, that men ought
always to pray, and not to faint."
"There was in a
city," He said, "a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man; and there
was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And
he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor
regard man; yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual
coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not
God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them?
I tell you that He will avenge them speedily."
The judge who is here
pictured had no regard for right,
nor pity for suffering. The widow who pressed her case
before him was persistently repulsed. Again and again she came to him, only to be treated
with contempt, and to be driven from the judgment seat. The judge knew that her cause was
righteous, and he could have relieved her at once, but he would not. He wanted to show his
arbitrary power, and it gratified him to let her ask and plead and entreat in vain. But
she would not fail nor become discouraged. Notwithstanding his indifference and
hardheartedness, she pressed her petition until the judge consented to attend to her case.
"Though I fear not God, nor regard man," he said, "yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me." To save
his reputation, to avoid giving publicity to his partial, one-sided judgment, he avenged
the persevering woman.
"And the Lord said, Hear
what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and
night unto him, though He bear long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them
speedily." Christ here draws a sharp contrast between the unjust judge and God. The
judge yielded to the widow's request merely through selfishness, that he might be relieved
of her importunity. He felt for her no pity or compassion; her misery was nothing to him.
How different is the attitude of God toward those who seek Him. The appeals of the needy
and distressed are considered by Him with infinite compassion.
The woman who entreated the
judge for justice had lost her husband by death. Poor and friendless, she had no means of
retrieving her ruined fortunes. So by sin, man lost his connection with God. Of himself he
has no means of salvation. But in Christ we are brought nigh unto the Father. The elect of
God are dear to His heart. They are those whom He has called out of darkness into His
marvelous light, to show forth His praise, to shine as lights
amid the darkness of the
world. The unjust judge had no special interest in the widow who importuned him for
deliverance; yet in order to rid himself of her pitiful appeals, he heard her plea, and
delivered her from her adversary. But God loves His children with infinite love. To Him
the dearest object on earth is His church.
"For the Lord's portion
is His people; Jacob is the lot of His inheritance. He found him in a desert land, and in
the waste, howling wilderness; He led him about, He instructed him, He kept him as the
apple of His eye." Deut. 32:9, 10. "For thus saith the Lord of hosts: After the
glory hath He sent Me unto the nations which spoiled you; for he that toucheth you
toucheth the apple of His eye." Zech. 2:8.
The widow's prayer,
"Avenge me"--"do me justice" (R.V.)--"of mine adversary,"
represents the prayer of God's children. Satan is their great adversary. He is the
"accuser of our brethren," who accuses them before God day and night. (Rev.
12:10.) He is continually working to misrepresent and accuse, to deceive and destroy the
people of God. And it is for deliverance from the power of Satan and his agents that in
this parable Christ teaches His disciples to pray.
In the prophecy of Zechariah
is brought to view Satan's accusing work, and the work of Christ in resisting the
adversary of His people. The prophet says, "He showed me Joshua the high priest
standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.
And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath
chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? Now Joshua was
clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel." Zech. 3:1-3.
The people of God are here
represented as a criminal
on trial. Joshua, as high priest, is seeking for a blessing for
his people, who are in great affliction. While he is pleading before God, Satan is
standing at his right hand as his adversary. He is accusing the children of God, and
making their case appear as desperate as possible. He presents before the Lord their evil
doings and their defects. He shows their faults and failures, hoping they will appear of
such a character in the eyes of Christ that He will render them no help in their great
need. Joshua, as the representative of God's people, stands under condemnation, clothed
with filthy garments. Aware of the sins of his people, he is weighed down with
discouragement. Satan is pressing upon his soul a sense of guiltiness that makes him feel
almost hopeless. Yet there he stands as a suppliant, with Satan arrayed against him.
The work of Satan as an
accuser began in heaven. This has been his work on earth ever since man's fall, and it
be his work in a special sense as we approach nearer to the close of this world's
history. As he sees that his time is short, he will work with greater earnestness to
deceive and destroy. He is angry when he sees a people on the earth who, even in their
weakness and sinfulness, have respect to the law of Jehovah. He is determined that they
shall not obey God. He delights in their unworthiness, and has devices prepared for every
soul, that all may be ensnared and separated from God. He seeks to accuse and condemn God
and all who strive to carry out His purposes in this world in mercy and love, in
compassion and forgiveness.
Every manifestation of God's
power for His people arouses the enmity of Satan. Every time God works in their behalf,
Satan with his angels works with renewed vigor to compass their ruin. He is jealous of all
who make Christ their strength. His object is to instigate evil, and when he has
succeeded, throw all the blame upon the tempted ones. He points to their filthy garments,
their defective characters. He presents their weakness and folly, their sins of
ingratitude, their unlikeness to Christ, which have dishonored their Redeemer. All this he
urges as an argument proving his right to work his will in their destruction. He endeavors
to affright their souls with the thought that their case is hopeless, that the stain of
their defilement can never be washed away. He hopes so to destroy their faith that they
will yield fully to his temptations, and turn from their allegiance to God.
The Lord's people cannot of
themselves answer the charges of Satan. As they look to themselves they are ready to
despair. But they appeal to the divine Advocate. They plead the merits of the Redeemer.
God can be "just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus." Rom. 3:26.
With confidence the Lord's children cry unto Him
to silence the accusations of Satan, and
bring to naught his devices. "Do me justice of mine adversary," they pray; and
with the mighty argument of the cross, Christ silences the bold accuser.
"The Lord said unto
Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan, even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke
thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?" When Satan seeks to cover the
people of God with blackness, and ruin them, Christ interposes. Although they have sinned,
Christ has taken the guilt of their sins upon His own soul. He has snatched the race as a
brand from the fire. By His human nature He is linked with man, while through His divine
nature He is one with the infinite God. Help is brought within the reach of perishing
souls. The adversary is rebuked.
"Now Joshua was clothed
with filthy garments, and stood before the angel: and he answered and spake unto those
that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he
said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with
change of raiment. And I said, Let them set a fair miter upon his head. So they set a fair
miter upon his head, and clothed him with garments." Then with the authority of the
Lord of hosts the angel made a solemn pledge to Joshua, the representative of God's
people: "If thou wilt walk in My ways, and if thou wilt keep My charge, then thou
shalt also judge My house, and shalt also keep My courts, and I will give thee places to
walk among these that stand by"--even among the angels that surround the throne of
God. (Zech. 3:3-7.)
Notwithstanding the defects
of the people of God, Christ does not turn away from the objects of His care. He has the
power to change their raiment. He removes the filthy
garments, He places upon the
repenting, believing ones His own robe of righteousness, and writes pardon against their
names on the records of heaven. He confesses them as His before the heavenly universe.
Satan their adversary is shown to be an accuser and deceiver. God will do justice for His
The prayer, "Do me
justice of mine adversary," applies not only to Satan, but to the agencies whom he
instigates to misrepresent, to tempt, and to destroy the people of God. Those who have
decided to obey the commandments of God will understand by experience that they have
adversaries who are controlled by a power from beneath. Such adversaries beset Christ at
every step, how constantly and determinedly no human being can ever know. Christ's
disciples, like their Master, are followed by continual temptation.
The Scriptures describe the
condition of the world just before Christ's second coming. James the apostle pictures the
greed and oppression that will prevail. He says, "Go to now, ye rich men, . . . ye
have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the labourers who
have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of
them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. Ye have lived in
pleasure on the earth, and been wanton. Ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of
slaughter. Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you." James
5:1-6. This is a picture of what exists today. By every species of oppression and
extortion, men are piling up colossal fortunes, while the cries of starving humanity are
coming up before God.
"Judgment is turned away
backward, and justice standeth afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, and equity
cannot enter. Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth
from evil maketh himself a
prey." Isa. 59:14, 15. This was fulfilled in the life of Christ on earth. He was
loyal to God's commandments, setting aside the human traditions and requirements which had
been exalted in their place. Because of this He was hated and persecuted. This history is
repeated. The laws and traditions of men are exalted above the law of God, and those who
are true to God's commandments suffer reproach and persecution. Christ, because of His
faithfulness to God, was accused as a Sabbathbreaker and blasphemer. He was declared to be
possessed of a devil, and was denounced as Beelzebub. In like manner His followers are
accused and misrepresented. Thus Satan hopes to lead them to sin, and cast dishonor upon
The character of the judge in
the parable, who feared not God nor regarded man, was presented by Christ to show the kind
of judgment that was then being executed, and that would soon be witnessed at His trial.
He desires His people in all time to realize how little dependence can be placed on
earthly rulers or judges in the day of adversity. Often the elect people of God have to
stand before men in official positions who do not make the word of God their guide and
counselor, but who follow their own unconsecrated, undisciplined impulses.
In the parable of the unjust
judge, Christ has shown what we should do. "Shall not God avenge His own elect, which
cry day and night unto Him?" Christ, our example, did nothing to vindicate or deliver
Himself. He committed His case to God. So His followers are not to accuse or condemn, or
to resort to force in order to deliver themselves.
When trials arise that seem
unexplainable, we should not allow our peace to be spoiled. However unjustly we may be
treated, let not passion arise. By indulging a spirit
of retaliation we injure ourselves.
We destroy our own confidence in God, and grieve the Holy Spirit. There is by our side a
witness, a heavenly messenger, who will lift up for us a standard against the enemy. He
will shut us in with the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness. Beyond this Satan
cannot penetrate. He cannot pass this shield of holy light.
While the world is
progressing in wickedness, none of us need flatter ourselves that we shall have no
difficulties. But it is these very difficulties that bring us into the audience chamber of
the Most High. We may seek counsel of One who is infinite in wisdom.
The Lord says, "Call
upon Me in the day of trouble." Ps. 50:15. He invites us to present to Him our
perplexities and necessities, and our need of divine help. He bids us be instant in
prayer. As soon as difficulties arise, we are to offer to Him our sincere, earnest
petitions. By our importunate prayers we give evidence of our strong confidence in God.
The sense of our need leads us to pray earnestly, and our heavenly Father is moved by our
Often those who suffer
reproach or persecution for their faith are tempted to think themselves forsaken by God.
In the eyes of men they are in the minority. To all appearance their enemies triumph over
them. But let them not violate their conscience. He who has suffered in their behalf, and
has borne their sorrows and afflictions, has not forsaken them.
The children of God are not
left alone and defenseless. Prayer moves the arm of Omnipotence. Prayer has "subdued
kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched
the violence of fire" --we shall know what it means when we hear the reports of the
martyrs who died for their faith--"turneth to flight the armies of the aliens."
Heb. 11:33, 34.
If we surrender our lives to
His service, we can never be placed in a position for which God has not made provision.
Whatever may be our situation, we have a Guide to direct our way; whatever our
perplexities, we have a sure Counselor; whatever our sorrow, bereavement, or loneliness,
we have a sympathizing Friend. If in our ignorance we make missteps, Christ does not leave
us. His voice, clear and distinct, is heard saying,"I am the Way, the Truth, and the
Life." John 14:6. "He shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and
him that hath no helper." Ps. 72:12.
The Lord declares that He
will be honored by those who draw nigh to Him, who faithfully do His service. "Thou
wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in
Thee." Isa. 26:3. The arm of Omnipotence is outstretched to lead us onward and still
onward. Go forward, the Lord says; I will send you help. It is for My name's glory that
you ask, and you shall receive. I will be honored before those who are watching for your
failure. They shall see My word triumph gloriously. "All things, whatsoever ye shall
ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive." Matt. 21:22.
Let all who are afflicted or
unjustly used, cry to God. Turn away from those whose hearts are as steel, and make your
requests known to your Maker. Never is one repulsed who comes to Him with a contrite
heart. Not one sincere prayer is lost. Amid the anthems of the celestial choir, God hears
the cries of the weakest human being. We pour out our heart's desire in our closets, we
breathe a prayer as we walk by the way, and our words reach the throne of the Monarch of
the universe. They may be inaudible to any human ear, but they cannot die away into
silence, nor can they be lost through the activities of business that are going on.
Nothing can drown the soul's desire. It rises above the din of the street, above the
confusion of the multitude, to the heavenly courts. It is God to whom we are speaking, and
our prayer is heard.
You who feel the most
unworthy, fear not to commit your case to God. When He gave Himself in Christ for the sin
of the world, He undertook the case of every soul. "He that spared not His own Son,
but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all
things?" Rom. 8:32. Will He not fulfill the gracious word given for our encouragement
Christ desires nothing so
much as to redeem His heritage from the dominion of Satan. But before we are delivered
from Satan's power without, we must delivered
from his power within. The Lord permits
trials in order that we may be cleansed from earthliness, from selfishness, from harsh, unchristlike traits of character. He suffers the deep waters of affliction to go over our
souls in order that we may know Him and Jesus Christ whom He has sent, in order that we
may have deep heart longings to be cleansed from defilement, and may come forth from the
trial purer, holier, happier. Often we enter the furnace of trial with our souls darkened
with selfishness; but if patient under the crucial test, we shall come forth reflecting
the divine character. When His purpose in the affliction is accomplished, "He shall
bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday." Ps.
There is no danger that the
Lord will neglect the prayers of His people. The danger is that in temptation and trial
they will become discouraged, and fail to persevere in prayer.
The Saviour manifested divine
compassion toward the Syrophenician woman. His heart was touched as He saw her grief. He
longed to give her an immediate assurance that her prayer was heard; but He desired to
teach His disciples a lesson, and for a time He seemed to neglect the cry of her tortured
heart. When her faith had been made manifest, He spoke to her words of commendation and
sent her away with the precious boon she had asked. The disciples never forgot this
lesson, and it is placed on record to show the result of persevering prayer.
It was Christ Himself who put
into that mother's heart the persistence which would not be repulsed. It was Christ who
gave the pleading widow courage and determination before the judge. It was Christ who,
centuries before, in the mysterious conflict by the Jabbok, had inspired Jacob with the
same persevering faith. And the confidence which He Himself had implanted, He did not fail
He who dwells in the heavenly
sanctuary judges righteously. His pleasure is more in His people, struggling with
temptation in a world of sin, than in the host of angels that surround His throne.
In this speck of a world the
whole heavenly universe manifests the greatest interest, for Christ has paid an infinite
price for the souls of its inhabitants. The world's Redeemer has bound earth to heaven by
ties of intelligence, for the redeemed of the Lord are here. Heavenly beings still visit
the earth as in the days when they walked and talked with Abraham and with Moses. Amid the
busy activity of our great cities, amid the multitudes that crowd the thoroughfares and
fill the marts of trade where from morning till evening the people act as if business and
sport and pleasure were all there is to life, where there are so few to contemplate unseen
realities--even here heaven has still its watchers and its holy ones. There are invisible
agencies observing every word and deed of human beings. In every assembly for business or
pleasure, in every gathering for worship, there are more listeners than can be seen with
the natural sight. Sometimes the heavenly intelligences draw aside the curtain which hides
the unseen world that our thoughts may be withdrawn from the hurry and rush of life to
consider that there are unseen witnesses to all we do or say.
We need to understand better
than we do the mission of the angel visitants. It would be well to consider that in all
our work we have the co-operation and care of heavenly beings. Invisible armies of light
and power attend the meek and lowly ones who believe and claim the promises of God.
Cherubim and seraphim and angels that excel in strength-- ten thousand times ten thousand
and thousands of thousands--stand at His right hand, "all ministering spirits, sent
forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation." Heb. 1:14.
By these angel messengers a
faithful record is kept of the words and deeds of the children of men. Every act of
cruelty or injustice toward God's people, all they are caused to suffer through the power
of evil workers, is registered in heaven.
"Shall not God avenge
His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them? I tell you
that He will avenge them speedily."
"Cast not away therefore
your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience,
that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little
while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry." Heb. 10:35-37.
"Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long
patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish
your hearts; for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh." James 5:7, 8.
The long-suffering of God is
wonderful. Long does justice wait while mercy pleads with the sinner. But
"righteousness and judgment are the establishment of His throne." Ps. 97:2,
margin. "The Lord is slow to anger;" but He is "great in power, and will
not at all acquit the wicked: the Lord hath His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and
the clouds are the dust of His feet." Nahum 1:3.
The world has become bold in
transgression of God's law. Because of His long forbearance, men have trampled upon His
authority. They have strengthened one another in oppression and cruelty toward His
heritage, saying, "How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the Most High?"
Ps. 73:11. But there is a line beyond which they cannot pass. The time is near when they
will have reached the prescribed limit. Even now they have almost exceeded the bounds of
the long-suffering of God, the limits of His
grace, the limits of His mercy. The Lord will
interpose to vindicate His own honor, to deliver His people, and to repress the swellings
In Noah's day, men had
disregarded the law of God until almost all remembrance of the Creator had passed away
from the earth. Their iniquity reached so great a height that the Lord brought a flood of
waters upon the earth, and swept away its wicked inhabitants.
From age to age the Lord has
made known the manner of His working. When a crisis has come, He has revealed Himself, and
has interposed to hinder the working out of Satan's plans. With nations, with families,
and with individuals, He has often permitted matters to come to a crisis, that His
interference might become marked. Then He has made manifest that there is a God in Israel
who will maintain His law and vindicate His people.
In this time of prevailing
iniquity we may know that the last great crisis is at hand. When the defiance of God's law
is almost universal, when His people are oppressed and afflicted by their fellow men, the
Lord will interpose.
The time is near when He will
say, "Come, My people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee:
hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For,
behold, the Lord cometh out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their
iniquity; the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her
slain." Isa. 26:20, 21. Men who claim to be Christians may now defraud and oppress
the poor; they may rob the widow and fatherless; they may indulge their Satanic hatred
because they cannot control the consciences of God's people; but for all this God will
bring them into judgment. They "shall have judgment without mercy" that have
"showed no mercy." (James 2:13.) Not long hence they will stand before the Judge
of all the earth,
to render an account for the pain they have caused to the bodies and
souls of His heritage. They may now indulge in false accusations, they may deride those
whom God has appointed to do His work, they may consign His believing ones to prison, to
the chain gang, to banishment, to death; but for every pang of anguish, every tear shed,
they must answer. God will reward them double for their sins. Concerning Babylon, the
symbol of the apostate church, He says to His ministers of judgment, "Her sins have
reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. Reward her even as she
rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath
filled fill to her double." Rev. 18:5, 6.
From India, from Africa, from
China, from the islands of the sea, from the downtrodden millions of so-called Christian
lands, the cry of human woe is ascending to God. That cry will not long be unanswered. God
will cleanse the earth from it moral corruption, not by a sea of water as in Noah's day,
but by a sea of fire that cannot be quenched by any human devising.
"There shall be a time
of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time; and at that
time Thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the
book." Dan. 12:1.
From garrets, from hovels,
from dungeons, from scaffolds, from mountains and deserts, from the caves of the earth and
the caverns of the sea, Christ will gather His children to Himself. On earth they have
been destitute, afflicted, and tormented. Millions have gone down to the grave loaded with
infamy because they refused to yield to the deceptive claims of Satan. By human tribunals
the children of God have been adjudged the vilest criminals. But the day is near when
"God is judge Himself." (Ps. 50:6). Then the decisions of earth shall be
rebuke of His people shall He take away." Isa. 25:8. White robes
will be given to every one of them. (Rev. 6:11.) And "they shall call them the holy
people, the redeemed of the Lord." Isa. 62:12.
Whatever crosses they have
been called to bear, whatever losses they have sustained, whatever persecution they have
suffered, even to the loss of their temporal life, the children of God are amply
recompensed. "They shall see His face; and His name shall be in their
foreheads." Rev. 22:4.