Christ's Object Lessons
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 14: "Shall Not God Avenge His Own?"
Based on Luke 18:1-8
Jesus desired that His people should realize how little they
could depend on earthly rulers or judges in the day of adversity.
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, [p. 165] 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 [p. 166] 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 [p. 167] 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 will [p. 168] 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
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 [p. 169] 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
"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 [p. 170] 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 own elect.
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
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 [p. 171] 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
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
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 [p. 172] 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 supplications.
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
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. [p. 173]
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 [p. 174] 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 and strength?
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 [p. 175] 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. 37:6.
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
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 to reward. [p. 176]
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. [p. 177]
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 [p. 178] grace, the limits of His mercy. The Lord will interpose
to vindicate His own honor, to deliver His people, and to
repress the swellings of unrighteousness.
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, [p. 179] 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.
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copy of this enlightening book about the parables of Christ.
"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 reversed. "The [p. 180] 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."
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"This Man Receiveth Sinners"