America is a political culture. Both saved and unsaved alike partake in this political culture. Politics is the art of compromise, this culture says. To be an effective politician or political activist, they tell us that you must play the game, follow the rules, or use your opponent’s playbook to gain success. The ends truly justify the means to the typical secular-minded political activist.
Civil government has overreached its biblical, and even Constitutional, limitations to such a degree that not one aspect of our lives has been left untouched by tyrannical laws. From slave-like taxation to regulations against home-education to the ever-present threat of a police state, the problems of our civil government are overwhelming. Furthermore, our political culture is dominated by party-politics. Every year is an election year and every election is the most critical cross-roads election in our lifetime, the political culture says.
The systematic corruption within American politics is easy to pontificate about. The lack of biblical sanity in the current political policy debates can infuriate anyone. Too many Christians have stepped out of the political arena because they have bought into the lie that politics will never change, or that political action can never be used as a tool for the glory of God and the advancement of His Kingdom majesty. A corrupt political system is a symptom of a corrupt worldview deeper within the culture and because of this worldview, politics is considered a dirty word.
For a systematic, biblical reconstruction of any culture to take place, one must have a solid understand of Scripture and its transformative application to every area of said culture. If a Christian educator wants to challenge the government school system in America, that educator must learn what Scripture says about providing education through the family, church, or non-government institutions. If a Christian artist wants to challenge the humanistic onslaught in the art realm, that artist must learn what Scripture says about the creation, art, and using one’s talents for the glory of God. Likewise, with political action. If a Christian political activist wants to get righteous laws passed, God-honoring statesmen elected, or biblical justice to reign at all levels of civil government, that activist must learn what the biblical method of long-term political action is before jumping into the fray.
This series of articles will attempt to provide both a direction and some tactical strategies that any Christian Reconstructionist can use within the various level of political activism.
In the Great Commission of Matthew 28, Christ declares that all power in both heaven and earth is given unto Him; a declaration of sovereign supremacy over all people, things, and institutions. The writer of Hebrews must have had this Commission in mind when he wrote, “Thou hast put all things in subjection under His feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him” (Hebrews 2:8). The comprehensiveness of this statement includes every civil government and political party on earth has being under Christ’s feet, under His Lordship – though we do not physically see this yet.
As Christian Reconstructionists, we believe that every institution must conform to God’s sovereign Law-Word alone (Sola Scriptura) or be cast aside entirely for something that is truly God-honoring, something built on Scripture alone. This also includes political action; the methodology by which one partakes in the political process. Politics is a non-physical institution whereby men construct their governments, specifically civil government.
This brings us to our text.
“And Jesus spake also a parable unto them, to this end, that they ought always to pray, and not to wax faint, saying, there was a judge in a certain city, which feared not God, neither reverenced man. And there was a widow in that city, which came unto him, saying, Do me justice against mine adversary. And he would not of a long time: but afterward he said with himself, Though I fear not God, nor reverence man, Yet because this widow troubles me, I will do her right, lest at the last she come and make me weary. And the Lord said, Hear what the unrighteous judge saith. Now shall not God avenge his elect, which cry day and night unto him, yea, though he suffer long for them? I tell you he will avenge them quickly: but when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?”
Background and Context
This is the only appearance that this parable has within the Gospels. American Christians often jump over the parable down to verse 8 to see how the last sentence might allude to some premillennial doctrine. However, they miss the larger context of both verse 8 and the entire parable.
Nearly the entire focus in the previous chapter of Luke’s account has been on the importance of faith. In the opening of Luke 17, we see the Apostles ask “Lord, increase our faith” (verse 5). Christ replies by telling of the mustard seed. In verses 11-19, we see Christ healing the ten lepers; only one of whom returned to give thanksgiving to God. Christ tells that one former-leper, “Thy faith has made thee whole” (verse 19). After this, we see the Pharisees drilling Christ with questions about the Kingdom of God. In Christ’s response – which has parallels with the account in Matthew 24 – Jesus refers to both Noah and Lot (verses 26-29). This is significant based on Peter’s description of these men in 2 Peter 2:5, 7-8. Peter, who was most likely with Christ when He answered the Pharisees in Luke 17, described Noah as “a preacher of righteousness” and Lot as “that righteous man … vexed [in] his righteous soul from day to day.” Christ also warns to “Remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:32), who had no faith and turned back to look at Sodom. This topical thread concerning faith continues into the parable itself in Luke 18.
The Key Hangs at the Door
“And Jesus spake also a parable unto them, to this end, that they ought always to pray, and not to wax faint,” (verse 1)
Matthew Henry begins his commentary on this parable with the following: “This parable has its key hanging at the door; the drift and design of it are prefixed.”
The purpose of the parable, unlike many others that Christ gave, is given to us at its opening. To pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and to not grow weary in well doing (Galatians 6:9) are the clearly stated goals of this parable’s teaching. This verse is the key that unlocks the parable itself.
Setting the Stage
When a story is told, usually the ‘good guy’ is thought to be the protagonist and the ‘bad guy’ is the antagonist. This is the case in many of Christ’s other parables – for example, the parable of the Good Samaritan – but here Christ uses a little different type of storytelling. In this case, the judge is the protagonist and the widow is the antagonist. You will see the possible reason later.
Verse 2 begins the parable by describing the protagonist, the judge. He is a judge in a certain city “which feared not God, neither reverenced man.” The judge himself says to himself in verse 4 that he himself did not fear God nor regard man.
Throughout Scripture the fear of the Lord is essential to the Christian walk of faith. To fear God is to believe in His sovereignty over all things and act accordingly. Proverbs tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7; 2:5), wisdom (Proverbs 15:33), increase of days (Proverbs 10:27), a wellspring of life (Proverbs 14:27), and brings strength in the Lord (Proverbs 14:26). The lack of fearing God before one’s eyes is an attribute of the wickedness on men described in Romans 3:10-18. Based on this, it is easy to say that this judge in the parable was an unsaved individual. Christ even confirms this by calling the judge “the unjust judge” in verse 6.
The Cause is Just, Long, and Troublesome
Verse 3 describes the antagonist, the widow. Why is the widow the antagonist? Namely because she is the one who continually “troubles” the judge. She’s the one doing the action upon the apathetic judge. The widow was in that same city, implying that she was a citizen under the jurisdiction of that wicked judge. She consistently goes to that same judge and declares the same message (“Do me justice against mine adversary”) to his boredom after a long while (verse 4).
Christ did not give any details as to what the widow’s adversary did or was doing to her to cause grief. However, the adversary’s injustice caused lasting effects as evident by the widow’s prolonged bothering of the judge. She believed her cause to be the right one. The widow could rightly mimic the patriarch Job and say, “Behold now, I have ordered my cause; I know that I shall be justified” (Job 13:18).
The wicked judge, who regards not man, only sees the widow as a troublesome woman. In verse 5 he says that her consistency of coming to him will make him weary. The judge’s love of self over his fellow man makes the widow’s persistence even more powerful. She sought justice, he sought ease. She had faith, he had discomfort. His weariness in hearing her same message repeatedly (“Do me justice against mine adversary”) is what ultimately brought him to verse 5 when he finally says to himself, “I will avenge her.”
Christ concludes the parable of the wicked judge and the widow with two questions. The first question is clearly rhetorical (verse 7): “shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bears long with them?” After hearing this parable, how could anyone answer this question in the negative? “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Romans 12:19; Psalm 94). God will most certainly avenge His people within His own time, not ours. This is what faith and waiting on the Lord is all about. Christ Himself confirms this truth with a promise in the next verse: “I tell you that he will avenge them speedily.”
At first glance, the second question is disheartening: “when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” Oftentimes, especially among premillennial circles, people like to jump straight to this question and answer in the negative while ignoring the lesson of the parable. Shall Christ find faith on the earth when He comes? The assumption is that this question has the end of the world in mind and jump to the conclusion that Christ will not find faith. That conclusion is inherently flawed, based on the parable.
In part 2 of this series, we will go a bit deeper into this parable, see how it all relates to political action, draw out some practical applications, as well as attempt to answer the second question of this parable: “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?”