And shall not God avenge his own elect - And will not God the righteous Judge do justice for his chosen? Probably this may refer to the cruel usage which his disciples had met with, and were still receiving, from the disobedient and unbelieving Jews; and which should be finally visited upon them in the destruction of their city, and the calamities which should follow. But we may consider the text as having a more extensive meaning. As God has graciously promised to give salvation to every soul that comes unto him through his Son, and has put his Spirit in their hearts, inducing them to cry unto him incessantly for it; the goodness of his nature and the promise of his grace bind him to hear the prayers they offer unto him, and to grant them all that salvation which he has led them by his promise and Spirit to request.
Which cry day and night unto him, etc. - This is a genuine characteristic of the true elect or disciples of Christ. They feel they have neither light, power, nor goodness, but as they receive them from him; and, as he is the desire of their soul, they incessantly seek that they may be upheld and saved by him.
Though he bear long with them? - Rather, and He is compassionate towards Them, and consequently not at all like to the unrighteous judge. Instead of μακροθυμων, and be long-suffering, as in our translation, I read μακροθυμει, he is compassionate, which reading is supported by ABDLQ, and several others. The reason which our Lord gives for the success of his chosen, is,
In consequence of the first, they might expect justice even from an unrighteous judge; and, in consequence of the second, they are sure of salvation, because they ask it from that God who is towards them a Father of eternal love and compassion. There was little reason to expect justice from the unrighteous judge.
But there is all the reason under heaven to expect mercy from God:
Every reader must perceive that the common translation is so embarrassed as to be almost unintelligible; while that in this note, from the above authorities, is as plain as possible, and shows this beautiful parable to be one of the most invaluable pieces in the word of God.
Shall not God avenge - We are not to suppose that the character of God is at all represented by this judge, or that “his” principles of conduct are at all like those of the judge. This parable shows us conclusively that many “circumstances” of a parable are not to be interpreted closely: they are mere appendages to the narrative. The great truth which our Saviour “designed” to teach is what we ought to endeavor to find. In this case there can be no doubt what that truth is. He has himself told us that it is, that “men ought always to pray and not to faint.” This he teaches by the example in the parable; and the argument which it implies is this:
1.A poor widow, by her perseverance only, obtained from an unjust man what otherwise she would “not” have obtained.
2.God is not unjust. He is good, and disposed to do justice and to bestow mercy.
If, therefore, this “wicked man” by persevering prayer was induced to do justice, how much more shall “God,” who is good, and who is not actuated by any such selfish and base principles, do justice to them who apply to him!
Avenge - Do justice to or vindicate them. This may have a twofold reference.
1. To the disciples in the time of Jesus, who were about to be oppressed and persecuted, and over whom calamities were about to come, “as if” God did not regard their cries and had forsaken them. To them Jesus gives the assurance that God “would” hear their petitions and come forth to vindicate them; and that, notwithstanding all these calamities, he would yet appear for their deliverance.
2. It may have a more “general” meaning. The people of God are often oppressed, calumniated, persecuted. They are few in number and feeble. They seem to be almost forsaken and cast down, and their enemies triumph. Yet in due time God will hear their prayers, and will come forth for their vindication. And even if it should not be “in this life,” yet he will do it in the day of judgment, when he will pronounce them blessed, and receive them forever to himself.
His own elect - People of God, saints, Christians; so called because God has “chosen” them to be his. The term is usually given in the Scriptures to the true followers of God, and is a term of affection, denoting his great and special love in choosing them out of a world of sinners, and conferring on them grace, and mercy, and eternal life. See 1 Thessalonians 1:4; Colossians 3:12; 1 Peter 1:2; Ephesians 1:4. It signifies here that they are especially dear to him; that he feels a deep interest in their welfare, and that he will, therefore, be ready to come forth to their aid. The judge felt no special interest in that widow, yet he heard her; God feels a particular regard, a tender love for his elect, and, therefore, he will hear and save.
Which cry day and night - This expresses one striking characteristic of the elect of God; they pray, and pray constantly. No one can have evidence that he is chosen of God who is not a man of prayer. One of the best marks by which the electing love of God is known is that it disposes us to pray. This passage supposes that when the elect of God are in trouble and pressed down with calamities, they “will” cry unto him; and it affirms that if they do, he will hear their cries and answer their requests.
Though he bear long with them - This passage has been variously interpreted, and there is some variety of reading in the manuscripts. Some read, “Will not God avenge his elect? Will he linger in their cause?” But the most natural meaning is, “Although he defers long to avenge them, and greatly tries their patience, yet he will avenge them.” He tries their faith; he suffers their persecutions and trials to continue a long time; and it almost “appears” as if he would not interpose. Yet he will do it, and will save them.
The Lord bears long with men, and when they manifest a determination to follow their own judgments, the Lord allows them to do so. I have been made to see the weakness and ignorance of fallen man, even in his best estate. As man goes deeper and deeper in his studies, improving in learning the will and ways of the Lord, he sees more of his own ignorance, thus revealing that he has made decided progress from the beginning. TDG 16.2Read in context »
The earnest prayers of this faithful few will not be in vain. When the Lord comes forth as an avenger, He will also come as a protector of all those who have preserved the faith in its purity and kept themselves unspotted from the world. It is at this time that God has promised to avenge His own elect which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them. 5T 210.1
The command is: “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.” These sighing, crying ones had been holding forth the words of life; they had reproved, counseled, and entreated. Some who had been dishonoring God repented and humbled their hearts before Him. But the glory of the Lord had departed from Israel; although many still continued the forms of religion, His power and presence were lacking. 5T 210.2
In the time when His wrath shall go forth in judgments, these humble, devoted followers of Christ will be distinguished from the rest of the world by their soul anguish, which is expressed in lamentation and weeping, reproofs and warnings. While others try to throw a cloak over the existing evil, and excuse the great wickedness everywhere prevalent, those who have a zeal for God's honor and a love for souls will not hold their peace to obtain favor of any. Their righteous souls are vexed day by day with the unholy works and conversation of the unrighteous. They are powerless to stop the rushing torrent of iniquity, and hence they are filled with grief and alarm. They mourn before God to see religion despised in the very homes of those who have had great light. They lament and afflict their souls because pride, avarice, selfishness, and deception of almost every kind are in the church. The Spirit of God, which prompts to reproof, is trampled underfoot, while the servants of Satan triumph. God is dishonored, the truth made of none effect. 5T 210.3Read in context »
With His eye upon the church, the Lord has again and again allowed matters to come to a crisis, that in their extremity His people should look alone for His help. Their prayers, their faith, together with their steadfast purpose to be true, have called for the interference of God, and then He has fulfilled His promise, “Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and He shall say, Here I am” (Isaiah 58:9). His mighty arm has been stretched out for the deliverance of His people. God reserves His gracious interposition in their behalf till the time of their extremity; thus He makes their deliverance more marked, and their victories more glorious. When all human wisdom fails, the Lord's interference will be more clearly recognized, and He will receive the glory that is His due. Even the enemies of our faith, persecutors, will perceive that God is working for His people in turning their captivity. 2SM 372.1
What is needed in this, our time of danger, is fervent prayer, mingled with earnest faith, a reliance upon God when Satan casts his shadow over God's people. Let everyone bear in mind that God delights to listen to the supplications of His people; for the prevailing iniquity calls for more earnest prayer, and God has promised that He will avenge His own elect, who cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them. 2SM 372.2Read in context »
The rich man did not belong to the class represented by the unjust judge, who openly declared his disregard for God and man. He claimed to be a son of Abraham. He did not treat the beggar with violence or require him to go away because the sight of him was disagreeable. If the poor, loathsome specimen of humanity could be comforted by beholding him as he entered his gates, the rich man was willing that he should remain. But he was selfishly indifferent to the needs of his suffering brother. COL 261.1
There were then no hospitals in which the sick might be cared for. The suffering and needy were brought to the notice of those to whom the Lord had entrusted wealth, that they might receive help and sympathy. Thus it was with the beggar and the rich man. Lazarus was in great need of help; for he was without friends, home, money, or food. Yet he was allowed to remain in this condition day after day, while the wealthy nobleman had every want supplied. The one who was abundantly able to relieve the sufferings of his fellow creature, lived to himself, as many live today. COL 261.2
There are today close beside us many who are hungry, naked, and homeless. A neglect to impart of our means to these needy, suffering ones places upon us a burden of guilt which we shall one day fear to meet. All covetousness is condemned as idolatry. All selfish indulgence is an offense in God's sight. COL 261.3
God had made the rich man a steward of His means, and it was his duty to attend to just such cases as that of the beggar. The command had been given, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deuteronomy 6:5); and “thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Leviticus 19:18). The rich man was a Jew, and he was acquainted with the command of God. But he forgot that he was accountable for the use of his entrusted means and capabilities. The Lord's blessings rested upon him abundantly, but he employed them selfishly, to honor himself, not his Maker. In proportion to his abundance was his obligation to use his gifts for the uplifting of humanity. This was the Lord's command, but the rich man had no thought of his obligation to God. He lent money, and took interest for what he loaned; but he returned no interest for what God had lent him. He had knowledge and talents, but did not improve them. Forgetful of his accountability to God, he devoted all his powers to pleasure. Everything with which he was surrounded, his round of amusements, the praise and flattery of his friends, ministered to his selfish enjoyment. So engrossed was he in the society of his friends that he lost all sense of his responsibility to co-operate with God in His ministry of mercy. He had opportunity to understand the word of God, and to practice its teachings; but the pleasure-loving society he chose so occupied his time that he forgot the God of eternity. COL 261.4Read in context »