By Jeri Young
The 5 minute video below shows the amazing beauty God has planned for us. I believe we purposely didn’t have knowledge of this until the last 50 years or so because God knew we would need encouragement during this time. Though the stones mentioned have always been in scripture, the knowledge of how light affects them has only been recently discovered.
The reason I showed the video first rather than at the end is because I wanted to give you a glimpse of heaven first and then go thru this scripture. But I want the scripture to be the last thing you remember from today - not the video.
Last week, Jane, wonderfully went through the parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13. Why does God continue to allow the tares (evil) to grow with the wheat (His children)? We learned that wheat and tares are very difficult to distinguish before they reach maturity and if the farmer pulls the tares early, then what would have turned into mature wheat would also be pulled up early. We were reminded that there are still many who will hopefully and prayerfully give their hearts to the Lord before the Lord returns. We all have unbelieving loved ones that I hope we pray faithfully for every day. But still, looking at so much evil in the world around us, we ask why and when? We see all around us hurting people who hurt others....sometimes terribly. I believe this parable will give you rest....maybe not answers.....but rest in knowing God is always in control.
I think, after the study last week, we had wonderful discussion and we all could have gone another hour or more with the discussion. Isn’t it wonderful to want to sit at the feet of Jesus which is what we are really doing when we discuss his Word. So last week hopefully wetted our appetite for more discussion this week ....but I will say this, Jane’s teaching is a really hard act to follow.
Before volunteering to do the study on this parable about the widow and the judge, I must have previously read it maybe twenty times or more but whenever I’ve read it before, I connected to it simply as a widow, or as a single woman having trouble and praying for resources probably because I was a single mother for a while and I know how hard it can be.
But this time when I read it, there were four words that JUMPED out at me. I don’t know why but they did. I think and believe it was the Holy Spirit speaking to me. It completely changed the meaning for me. So as I read this parable, really concentrate on which words jump out at you and then I’ll tell you which ones jumped out at me.
“Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, 2 saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor [ a ] regard man. 3 Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ 4 And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, 5 yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. 6 Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. 7 And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? 8 I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”
The words that jumped out at me were: “justice, avenge,” “adversary” and “elect.” All of a sudden I knew this parable had a lot more depth than I originally thought. So, remembering Pastor Steve’s advice to always read the verses or even the chapter before and after, I did just that. I heard a new phrase the other day that I just loved because it’s easy to remember and I really need “easy” when it comes to remembering these days. When studying or meditating on a certain part of scripture, remember “20/20”....like 20/20 vision....to make sure you’re understanding it correctly. Read 20 verses before and 20 verses after. How long does that take? If you read 40 verses straight thru....maybe 15 minutes or less. It’s well worth it. So, remember 20/20!
After reading the 20 before and after passages surrounding this parable, I thought I knew the direction God was leading me to present this parable but I also wanted to check other commentaries. I checked Warren Wiersbe, Chuck Smith and J. Vernon McGee. There were commonalities in all three but each commentary on this seemingly simple parable was approached differently. I prayed, “OK.....Lord, are you sure you want me to do the study from this direction?” After much prayer, I felt reassured that He did.
Then just this past Sunday, Pastor Steve taught on John 14:1-3 and why it’s important that we believe that Jesus is going to return. John 14:1-3 begins with “Let not your heart be troubled.....” Steve’s teaching was a wonderful confirmation of what I felt the Holy Spirit put on my heart about this study. I don’t want to put words in Steve’s mouth but he is a really good shepherd. He loves his flock. He wants us to be prepared because he feels the Lord is coming soon. This series that he has been giving is to prepare us. Difficult times are coming. We must be grounded in our knowledge that the LORD, indeed, is always in control. Regardless of what we see or hear or read, we must always be grounded in scripture. The Word of God before everything. Remember what happened to Peter when he saw Jesus walking on the water and he left the boat to go to Him. As long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus, he was able to walk towards Him but as soon as he looked at the churning waves and took his eyes off of Jesus, he began to sink. As the world around us grows darker (and it will), we must keep our focus on Jesus and Heaven. We do this by staying daily in the Word and prayer.
Like so many other verses in the Bible and often statements by Jesus, Himself, many times the verses can have multiple applications. I think that most of us know that when scripture was written, there were no chapters and verses. The chapters didn’t come along until 1227 under the direction of the Archbishop of Cantebury and then the chapters were separated by verses in 1555 by Stephanus. The chapters and verses in the New Testament have remained the same since the printing of the Geneva Bible in 1582 and of the Old Testament in 1609. Usually, this is a good thing but we should always keep it in mind that the writer, himself, didn’t necessarily intend for there to be a break or pause in any particular place. This particular passage is one example.
Between Luke 17 and Luke 18, there is nothing to indicate that Jesus changed his location or that it was even a different time frame. Luke 17 has many similarities to the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24 in talking about the end times. We know the Olivet Discourse took place in Jerusalem. However, looking at the synoptic gospels and researching the timeline, Jesus’ teachings in Luke 17 and 18 are said to have taken place in Judea.
Why am I talking about Luke 17 when the parable we’re studying today is in Luke 18? Because it leads into Jesus’ teaching of this parable.
In the first part of Luke 17, Christ begins by answering the Pharisees’ question about when the Kingdom of God would come and Jesus tells them that the Kingdom of God (here on earth) does not come by observation such as a tangible visual kingdom like they were expecting but is “within us” (when we are born again.)
After talking to the Pharisees, he then spoke ONLY to his disciples saying, “The days will come when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. 23 And they will say to you, ‘Look here!’ or ‘Look there!’ Do not go after them or follow them. 24 For as the lightning that flashes out of one part under heaven shines to the other part under heaven, so also the Son of Man will be in His day. 25 But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. 26 And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: 27 They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; 29 but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.
Knowing that they are concerned, Jesus wants to reassure them so He teaches this parable to them. Parables are stories and easy to remember. He wanted to give them comfort.
(LUKE 18:1) “Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart,” First and foremost, He wants us to always pray! Too often, myself included, we come to prayer as a last resort. But Jesus, Himself, always went FIRST to prayer. I’m not going to read them all but a list of scriptures of where Jesus first went to prayer are easily found by simply googling “scripture: when Jesus prayed.”
Examples: (Mark 1:35) “In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went away to a secluded place and was praying there.”
(Luke 5:16) “But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.”
Back to the parable (VERSE 2:) “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man.” So we know by Jesus’ own words that this judge is not a Godly man.
(VERSE 3:) “Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.” She is not asking for provision. She is asking for“justice” from her “adversary! ”
WHO is our “ADVERSARY?” We are told in 1Peter 5:8 to: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary, the devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” The widow didn’t ask for recompense or money, she asked for “justice.” But further down in verse five, we will see that Jesus changes the word “justice” to “avenge,” a shortened term for vengeance ....and what does the Lord say about “vengeance?” That’s right, in Deuteronomy 32:35, God says,“vengeance is Mine...” In the New Testament, this Deuteronomy verse is referenced to in Romans 12:19 and Hebrews 10:30. When something is repeated three times, we should pay close attention to what the Lord is telling us through His Word.
We go on to read, (VERSES 4 and 5:) “And he (the ungodly judge) would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, 5 yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.”
REMEMBER....Jesus is speaking about an ungodly judge. This particular parable is what is called a “contrasting parallel.” Jesus will go on to make the huge contrast between an ungodly judge and our Father, a Godly Judge.
Then in (VERSE 6-8a), we read: “Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own “elect” (his children) who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you He will avenge them speedily.”
Do you see the contrast? Do you see what Jesus is saying? Why when God’s children cry out against evil......why doesn’t God do something? Here is His answer and His promise. God, our loving Father, is a just God and He will avenge His children. He hears our prayers.....He does see the evil that is happening around us but He is also long suffering and He deeply loves those who are still immature and appear, for now, to be “tares.” “ The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
....and finally, Jesus, asks the disciples: (VERSE 8b) “N evertheless, when the Son of Man comes,will He really find faith on the earth?”
Jesus knows the heart of man. I can’t help but wonder if Jesus is asking the disciples a question rather than making a statement so that they will really give this deep thought... but He also wants to challenge them. He’s asking them, “What will you do....and what will Jesus find when He returns?” We should be asking ourselves those same questions.
Maybe the word, “speedily” in verse 8 jumps out at you. You’re not alone. In 2 Peter 3:8, Peter writes: “Beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as one day. ” But above that in, 2 Peter 3:3, he writes: “Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”
To “wonder” is one thing - to “scoff” or “mock” is completely different. That is the difference between believers and scoffers. Our faith is on a firm foundation. God’s Word has proven itself to be true over 6000 plus years. We have absolute firm evidence to stand on. Ours is not a blind faith!
I believe we are most definitely in the end times. Will the Lord return in my life time? I don’t know. I hope so....but if not in my life time, then I believe most certainly in the life time of the next generation following mine. We are the disciples of Jesus today. We are His hands and feet and voice. When He returns, will He find faith on the earth? It is an amazing privilege to live in this time.
REMEMBER the door to Heaven opening to John in Revelation 4 and immediately John was in the spirit? That door that opened is a beautiful picture of the rapture! Be encouraged!
Things are going to get really squirrely and crazy and yes, scary in this fallen world. I think both believers and non-believers often make the statement: “I never thought I would live to see the day when the world is like it is today!” But remember GOD IS IN CONTROL! GOD WILL AVENGE THE EVIL IN THIS WORLD. REMEMBER HIS PROMISES.....STAND ON HIS PROMISES! REMEMBER THE VERY WORDS OF JESUS: “... shall God not avenge His own “elect” (his children) who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you He will avenge them speedily.”
We are so close to seeing Him face to face......and think about just that tiny glimpse that we saw in the video of the AMAZING BEAUTY HE HAS IN STORE FOR US. This earth is NOT our home. We are simply sojourners here. There is amazing beauty even here on earth that thankfully God has provided. Have you ever noticed that the most beautiful things on earth are not man-made but what God created....sunsets, sunrises, clear skies, puffy clouds, amazing flowers, plants and trees, beautiful animals and precious new life. But for now, Paul wrote “right now we see through a glass dimly but then we shall see face to face clearly.” (1Cor 12). John, in Revelation 21, seeing Heaven, wrote: “the streets are pure gold like transparent glass....” God has such amazing beauty planned for His children. We think of gold like jewelry or a metal. Did you know that gold in its purest powder form when heated becomes transparent like glass? Everything in Heaven is pure just as we will be in our glorified bodies. Thanks be to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Thank you, God!
Paul told us that while we live on this fallen earth we are to seek out “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)
We are told in scripture that when the end of times begin, it will be like a woman in labor. I believe those labor pains have already begun and they are accelerating rapidly but this is not a reason to fear. Instead, if we are prepared and we are steeped daily in God’s Word, it is a time to rejoice because the fulfillment of God’s final prophesies are at hand. Our Lord is near....at the very door.
And finally, in closing, I want to read again the scripture that was read last Sunday from Philippians 3:20, 21: “For our citizenship is in Heaven from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body.”
Be encouraged...the Lord is coming soon. PRAY ALWAYS.