In Luke 18 Jesus tells us the parable of the persistent widow. I have often viewed this parable as Jesus teaching us to be persistent in prayer, and if we keep on “pestering” GOD, he will finally and reluctantly give in to our petitions. While persistent prayer is certainly a practical point to be made, a closer examination reveals something even deeper.
The key can be found in verse 7, “And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?” This parable may be more about GOD’s vindication of suffering people, specifically his chosen people. When I say “chosen people” I don’t mean the nation of Israel, even though Jesus may have had them in mind when he spoke this parable. By “chosen people” I mean those who walk in faith; the faith of Abraham, the faith of Joseph, the faith of Daniel, the faith of Jesus, and the faith of the apostles. Anyone who is walking in faith. Peter uses this term, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to GOD, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light,” (I Peter 2:9).
We often read about GOD’s people in the Old Testament waiting on GOD’s vindication. Israel’s captivity in Egypt lasted four hundred and thirty years. The book of Judges is filled with Israel’s unfaithfulness and going into captivity. But GOD would hear their prayers for deliverance and vindicated them by crushing their enemies. Habakkuk thought GOD was slow in vindicating the injustices that were taking place among GOD’s people by GOD’s people. But in time, GOD’s vindication was seen in his punishment of his people when he used the Babylonians to take Israel away into captivity from 586BC to 516BC. The Babylonians were excessive in their mistreatment of GOD’s people and GOD vindicated his people after 70 years of terrible captivity.
Here’s the point. GOD’s people often cry out to GOD for deliverance from their persecution or from the injustices that take place in their lives. The Psalmist reminds us, “In you I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. (v.3) No-one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse, (Psalm 25:2,3). In Revelation 6:9-11 the martyrs cried out for vindication, “How long, Sovereign LORD, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” (Revelation 6:10). The response from heaven, “…they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed, as they had been killed, was completed,” (v.11). “WAIT” as GOD works out His mysterious/hidden will and purpose. John refers to this vindication, “There will be no more delay…the mystery of GOD will be accomplished,” (Revelation 10:6-7).
During this period of “waiting” more of GOD’s people may suffer. They will be confronted with the evil in the world and the temptations to lure them away from faithfulness to GOD. The challenge of every follower of Christ is to remain faithful in prayer. Jesus makes this connection of faith and prayer in the parable of Luke 18. He said, “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” Will He find his followers in faithful, constant prayer?
Because of the grace of GOD (His undeserved kindness) Jesus is not looking for perfection, but rather faithfulness. Would there be anything greater for us, as followers of Jesus Christ, (kingdom people) to be found in faithful service at His RETURN? Will He find us in persistent prayer? Will He find us faithfully waiting on GOD’s vindication; to make all things right and new? Faithful in prayer. Faithful in loving our neighbor. Faithful in forgiving our enemies. Faithful in reading the Word and being filled with His Holy Spirit. Again, we are not talking about perfection; for perfection is found in Jesus alone. But faithful in keeping the kingdom of GOD, kingdom business a priority; first in our lives! Matthew 6:33.