Will God delay? (Lk 18:7-18:7)

“Will not God

Grant justice

To his chosen ones

Who cry to him

Day and night?

Will he delay long

In helping them?”

 

ὁ δὲ Θεὸς οὐ μὴ ποιήσῃ τὴν ἐκδίκησιν τῶν ἐκλεκτῶν αὐτοῦ τῶν βοώντων αὐτῷ ἡμέρας καὶ νυκτός, καὶ μακροθυμεῖ ἐπ’ αὐτοῖς;

 

Luke is the only synoptic writer with this parable about the widow and the bad judge.  Luke had Jesus bring this parable to a conclusion with a comment about God.  He wondered whether God (ὁ δὲ Θεὸς) would grant justice (οὐ μὴ ποιήσῃ τὴν ἐκδίκησιν) to his chosen ones (τῶν ἐκλεκτῶν αὐτοῦ) who cried to him (τῶν βοώντων αὐτῷ) day and night (ἡμέρας καὶ νυκτός)?  Would God delay long in helping them (καὶ μακροθυμεῖ ἐπ’ αὐτοῖς)?  The comparison was explicit.  Jesus said that God would grant justice to his chosen ones who petitioned him day and night.  Their persistence prayer would pay off.  God would not delay in helping them and answering their prayers for justice.  Has God answered your persistent prayers?

The unrighteous judge (Lk 18:6-8:6)

“The Lord said.

‘Listen

To what

the unjust says!’”

 

Εἶπεν δὲ ὁ Κύριος Ἀκούσατε τί ὁ κριτὴς τῆς ἀδικίας λέγει·

 

Luke is the only synoptic writer with this parable about the widow and the bad judge.  Luke indicated that the Lord Jesus said to them (Εἶπεν δὲ ὁ Κύριος) that they were to listen (Ἀκούσατε) to what this unjust judge just said (τί ὁ κριτὴς τῆς ἀδικίας λέγει).  Despite being unjust (ἀδικίας), Jesus wanted his disciples to listen to what he had to say.  If this callous unjust judge granted justice to this persistent widow, what do you think that a wonderful caring just God would do for them with their persistent pleadings and prayers?  Notice that Luke now called Jesus Lord (ὁ Κύριος).  Do you think that bad unjust people can do some good deeds once in a while?

The disciples who fast (Lk 5:33-5:33)

“Then they said to Jesus.

‘John’s disciples,

Like the disciples

Of the Pharisees,

Frequently fast

And pray.

However,

Your disciples

Eat

And drink.’”

 

Οἱ δὲ εἶπαν πρὸς αὐτόν Οἱ μαθηταὶ Ἰωάνου νηστεύουσιν πυκνὰ καὶ δεήσεις ποιοῦνται, ὁμοίως καὶ οἱ τῶν Φαρισαίων, οἱ δὲ σοὶ ἐσθίουσιν καὶ πίνουσιν.

 

Luke used the ambiguous “they” to lodge a complaint against the disciples of Jesus.  They said to Jesus (Οἱ δὲ εἶπαν πρὸς αὐτόν) that John’s disciples (Οἱ μαθηταὶ Ἰωάνου) frequently fasted (νηστεύουσιν πυκνὰ) and often made prayers (καὶ δεήσεις ποιοῦνται).  Likewise, the disciples of the Pharisees also fasted and prayed (ὁμοίως καὶ οἱ τῶν Φαρισαίων).  However, the disciples of Jesus ate and drank (οἱ δὲ σοὶ ἐσθίουσιν καὶ πίνουσιν), since they did not fast.  Apparently, fasting was a unique Jewish practice in ancient times.  However, most religions of the world today have some kind of fasting or not eating certain foods or drinks for a specific amount of time.  Mark, chapter 2:18, and Matthew, chapter 9:14, are similar to Luke, so that Mark might be the source of this incident, although there are some differences.  Mark had the disciples of John the Baptist acting together with the Pharisees, as they both agreed about fasting.  They wanted to know why the disciples of Jesus did not fast.  The disciples of John seemed to be on the side of the Pharisees, and not with the followers of Jesus.  Matthew had only the disciples of John the Baptist, without the Pharisees, show up wanting to know why the disciples of Jesus did not fast.  These disciples of John came to Jesus, since John was in jail.  They may have remained a separate group, since some people have traced followers of John the Baptist to the Mandaeans along the Iraq-Iran border.

Jesus prayed again (Mk 14:39-14:39)

“Again,

Jesus went away.

He prayed,

Saying

The same words.”

 

καὶ πάλιν ἀπελθὼν προσηύξατο τὸν αὐτὸν λόγον εἰπών.

 

This is similar to Matthew, chapter 26:42, but he has the actual words instead of “the same words.”  In Luke, chapter 22, and John, chapter 22, there was nothing more about these 2nd and 3rd prayers of Jesus.  Mark indicated that again, Jesus went away, for a 2nd time (καὶ πάλιν ἀπελθὼν).  He prayed to his Father (προσηύξατο) once again.  This time Mark said that Jesus used the same words that he had said the first time (τὸν αὐτὸν λόγον εἰπών).  Matthew indicated what these words were.  Jesus said that if this cannot pass unless he drank it, then his Father’s will should be done.  Clearly, Jesus would have preferred not to undergo this great suffering.  However, he subordinated his will to the will of his Father again.

Christian Worship Practice

Sunday worship on the Sabbath is the key Christian ritual, with special emphasis on the Easter and Christmas ceremonies.  Sunday is the day of worship rather than Saturday because Sunday is the day of the Lord’s resurrection.  Thus, every Sunday is a little Easter celebration.  Worship centers on Bible readings and their interpretation with sermons and testimonials.  Prayers, hymns, chants and the Lord’s Supper, or the Eucharistic meal, remain a mainstay of most Christian worship services.  The various Christian symbolic actions or sacraments grow out of a Trinitarian baptism based on a belief in Jesus Christ.

Daniel does penance (Dan 9:3-9:3)

“Then I turned

To Yahweh

To seek

An answer,

By prayer,

By supplications,

With fasting,

With sackcloth,

With ashes.”

Daniel, in the first-person singular, turned to Yahweh, and not the God of heaven or the Most High God, as earlier in this book. This was the traditional Hebrew name of Yahweh. Daniel assumed the traditional role of a penitent with prayers and supplications while fasting, and wearing sackcloth with ashes on him.

The impenetrable Yahweh (Lam 3:43-3:45)

Samek

“You have wrapped yourself

With anger.

You have pursued us.

You have killed us

Without pity.

You have wrapped yourself

With a cloud.

Thus no prayer

Can pass through.

You have made us filth.

You have made us rubbish.

Among the people.”

This author turns in an unanswered prayer towards Yahweh, addressing him in the second person singular. Yahweh had wrapped himself in anger and a cloud. He had pursued this author and his friends, killing them without pity. Their prayers to Yahweh could not penetrate through the clouds. They had become filth and rubbish among all people as they were forsaken and downtrodden. These three verses start with the Hebrew consonant letter Samek in this acrostic poem.

Yahweh would destroy Babylon (Jer 51:52-51:53)

“Says Yahweh.

‘Therefore,

The time is surely coming.

When I will punish

Her idols.

The wounded shall groan

Through all her land.

Though Babylon should

Mount up to heaven,

Destroyers would come

Upon her,

From me.

Though she should fortify

her strong heights,

Destroyers would come

Upon her,

From me.’

Says Yahweh.”

Yahweh was going to destroy Babylon and her idols. The time was coming when Yahweh would destroy all their idols throughout the country. The wounded ones would groan. Even if Babylon would mount prayers to heaven, her destroyers would come upon her from Yahweh. Even if she would fortify herself with strong high walls, these destroyers from Yahweh would descend upon her. Babylon and her idols were doomed. Yahweh was sending his destroyers.

King Hezekiah sends people to Isaiah (Isa 37:2-37:4)

“The king sent Eliakim,

Who was in charge of the palace,

Shebna the secretary,

With the senior priests,

Covered with sackcloth,

To the prophet Isaiah,

Son of Amoz.

They said to him.

‘Thus says King Hezekiah.

This day is a day of distress.

This day is a day of rebuke.

This day is a day of disgrace.

Children have come to birth.

But there is no strength to bring them forth.

It may be that Yahweh your God

Heard the words of Rabshakeh,

Whom his master,

The king of Assyria,

Has sent to mock the living God.

Will you rebuke the words

That Yahweh your God has heard?

Therefore,

Lift up your prayer

For the remnant that is left.’”

Once again, this is almost word for word from 2 Kings, chapter 19. King Hezekiah decided to send his consultants, Eliakim, Shebnah, and the senior priests to the prophet Isaiah, the son of Amoz. Notice that Joah the recorder did not go, but instead senior priests went. They would all be wearing sackcloth because things were in distress and disgrace. In an interesting metaphor, they say that women are coming to the moment of childbirth, but have no strength to bring their children into the world. They mentioned that perhaps Yahweh had heard the mocking words of Rabshakeh, as the king of Assyria’s representative mocked the living God. How would you rebuke him? They wanted prayers for the “remnant.” This theme of the faithful few left behind occurs quite often in Isaiah.

 

The destroyer (Isa 33:1-33:1)

“Woe to you!

Destroyer!

You yourself have not been destroyed!

You treacherous one!

With whom no one has dealt treacherously!

When you have ceased to destroy,

You will be destroyed.

When you have stopped dealing treacherously,

You will be dealt with treacherously.”

This section seems to be a later addition of prayers led by a prophet in the various religious services. The prophetic term destroyer here refers to Babylon. Although it has not yet been destroyed, it will be. No has dealt treacherously with them, but they have dealt treacherously with others. The destroying days of Babylon are numbered. They will be dealt with treacherously.