Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 13 (1898)


Ms 33, 1898

The Unjust Judge


March 9, 1898

Portions of this manuscript are published in 2BC 1013-1014; ST 09/08/1898, 09/15/1898. +Note

How many retiring from a position of responsibility as a judge, can say in regard to their purity, which of you convinceth me of sin? Who can prove that I have turned aside from my righteousness to accept bribes? I have never stained my record as a man who does judgment and justice. Who today can say what Samuel said when he was taking leave of the people of Israel, because they were determined to have a king? Reports came to him that showed him that the people thought him to be like themselves. “And Samuel said unto all Israel, ... Behold, I am here: witness against me before the Lord, and before his anointed: whose ox have I taken? or whom have I defrauded? whom have I oppressed? or of whose hand have I received any bribe to blind mine eyes therewith? and I will restore it you. And they said, Thou hast not defrauded us, nor oppressed us, neither hast thou taken ought of any man’s hand.” [1 Samuel 12:1, 3, 4.] Brave, noble judge. But it is a sorrowful thing that a man of the strictest integrity should have to humble himself to make his own defense. 13LtMs, Ms 33, 1898, par. 1

In His parables our Lord drew illustrations of divine truth from common practices. “He spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; saying, There was in a city 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 afterwards 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.” [Luke 18:1-8.] 13LtMs, Ms 33, 1898, par. 2

Though this judge was professedly a wise, discriminating man, his heart was hardened by sin. He occupied the position of judge of the people, but his course of action showed his character. The fruit he bore was the fruit borne on an evil tree. He acted just according to his feeling. If he was made irritable by being thwarted in any of his plans, the innocent suffered in consequence. The weak, who needed words of sympathy, and who needed that the wrongs which had been done them be set right, were made the objects of his derision. By selfish indifference and positive injustice, he exhibited perverse human nature. He knew that wrong actions were committed, but he did not repair the injury. He did not perform the duties which his position as a judge of the deeds and actions of the applicants required him to. He relieved those he chose to relieve, and neglected those he should have relieved. 13LtMs, Ms 33, 1898, par. 3

The woman who pressed her case before the judge was repulsed again and again. But she would not fail or become discouraged. She begged for justice to be done her. What use had the cities for a judge unless he could relieve the cause of the oppressed? Long had the judge heard the complaint; long had her suffering been arrayed before him. And after manifesting indifference and hardheartedness, he yielded to her request. But he did not do this willingly, for the truth’s sake, because pity and compassion had been stirred in his breast but because the wronged woman troubled him. The Lord put into the woman’s heart a persistency that the judge could not discourage. 13LtMs, Ms 33, 1898, par. 4

Had the judge had the mind that is in Christ Jesus, he might have saved himself all [this] trouble. He might have saved the woman the earnest, soul-harassing persistency that finally moved him. Had he feared God, the widow need not have come to him again and again, to be treated with contempt by those who had no more sympathy than he himself had, and to be torn from the judgment seat. He understood right from wrong; he knew that great injustice had been done to the earnest, pleading woman. But he did not possess the attributes that led him to care for these things. He cared only for that which would further his ambition. He wanted to show his arbitrary power. 13LtMs, Ms 33, 1898, par. 5

He could have relieved her, but he would not. He could have restrained wrong, and his position before God required him to do this; but it was not in harmony with his hardhearted determination to let the widow ask, and seek, and knock in vain. He wrapped his garments of selfishness about him, and let the pleading ones plead in vain. When he saw that he was revealing his true character, when his position was made uncomfortable by some who pitied the widow, he listened to her. “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.” [Verses 4, 5.] He himself was his god, and to save his reputation, to avoid giving further publicity to his partial, one-sided judgment, he avenged the persevering woman. 13LtMs, Ms 33, 1898, par. 6

Christ presented the character of the unjust judge to show the kind of judgment that was then being executed, and would soon be shown at his trial. He would have His people in all time realize what little dependence can be placed on earthly rulers or judges in the day of adversity. The elect people of God will stand before men in official position, who do not make the Word of God their guide and counsellor, but who follow their unconsecrated, undisciplined impulses. Those who have taken a position to be loyal and true, to do the commandments of God, will understand by their own experience that they have adversaries who are moved by a power from beneath. Such adversaries beset Christ at every step, how constantly and determinedly no earthly being can ever know. Christ’s disciples, like their Master, will be followed by continual temptation. But Christ is their refuge, as He was the refuge of the importunate widow. 13LtMs, Ms 33, 1898, par. 7

This parable places before us a Christlike character in contrast with character of the unjust judge. Those who fear God and accept Christ as their personal Saviour will reveal a Christlike character. The character of God will speak through them, in vindication of righteousness. From this parable God would have us learn to respect the cause of the poor. “Ye shall not respect persons in judgment,” He declares, “but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man, for the judgment is God’s.” [Deuteronomy 1:17.] “He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Master, but he that honoreth him hath mercy on the poor.” [Proverbs 14:31.] This is the lesson we are to learn from the parable of the unjust judge. The presentation of a man as a judge, who feared not God neither regarded man, is an admonition to all who claim to be righteous. “For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise.” [Psalm 12:5.] “Wherefore turn thou to thy God, and keep mercy, and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.” [Hosea 12:6.] 13LtMs, Ms 33, 1898, par. 8

In God’s people is begotten tender sympathy and compassion for the woes and distresses of suffering humanity. Christ awakens in them a deep interest for others, and as they labor to supply the necessities of others, the Lord works in their behalf. They realize the truth of the words, “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free? and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou had not thyself from thine own flesh?” [Isaiah 58:6, 7.] 13LtMs, Ms 33, 1898, par. 9

To those who will co-operate with God by helping others, as is here clearly defined, the promise is sure, “Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and He shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from thee the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; and if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rest in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: and the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: and thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations: and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.” [Verses 9-12.] 13LtMs, Ms 33, 1898, par. 10

The unjust judge revealed his own natural traits of character. Are there any claiming to be sons and daughters of God who copy this pattern? Should the Lord answer their requests, they would think it was because of their goodness. They would not see their defects of character. But those who pursue a course entirely different from that of the unjust judge, who judge righteously, may expect the answer, Here I am. What shall I do for you? 13LtMs, Ms 33, 1898, par. 11

The unjust judge, though separated from God, fearing neither God nor man, listened to the widow, because of her constant, earnest petitions. Although his cold heart remained like ice, yet the widow’s importunity resulted in her success. He avenged her, though he felt no pity or compassion for her, though her misery was nothing to him. 13LtMs, Ms 33, 1898, par. 12

“And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night to him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily.” [Luke 18:6-8.] 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. How different is God’s attitude in regard to prayer. Our heavenly Father may not seem to respond immediately to the prayers and appeals of His people; but He never turns away from them indifferently. 13LtMs, Ms 33, 1898, par. 13

In this parable and the parable of the man rising at midnight to supply his friend’s necessity, that the friend might minister to a needy, wayfaring man, we are taught that God hears our prayers. Too often we think that our petitions are not entering into His ear, and we encourage unbelief, and distrust God, when we should claim the promise, “Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and ye shall find: Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” [Matthew 7:7.] Let us draw the instruction that we should from these parables. The Lord is our Judge; the Lord is our Lawgiver. We give evidence of the strong ground of our confidence in God by our importunate prayer, combined with good works. But faith without works is dead, being alone. 13LtMs, Ms 33, 1898, par. 14

What is prayer? The presentation of our soul-hunger only? No; [it is] the presentation of our perplexities and necessities and of our need of God’s help against our adversary, the devil. As the elect of God we need to understand the nature of our wants and the motives that prompt to prayer. We are to remember that we are in need, and that our wants must be supplied from the heavenly storehouse. 13LtMs, Ms 33, 1898, par. 15

Prayer is to be offered to God for the preservation of every power and faculty, for the preservation of life, that we may render the highest service to God, and for temporal necessities and blessings. The sense of our necessity and need urges us to pray earnestly, and our heavenly Father is moved by our petitions. 13LtMs, Ms 33, 1898, par. 16

In the prayer Christ gave His disciples, the request is made for daily bread. “Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of these things,” Christ said. [Matthew 6:32.] “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” [Luke 11:13.] 13LtMs, Ms 33, 1898, par. 17

God’s special work is to benefit His people in every way for their spiritual enlightenment. His work is to enlighten, to purify, to transform and strengthen man’s moral and spiritual power. We need to be as Christ has told us, Instant in prayer. As soon as difficulty comes, we are to offer our simple, sincere prayers. Christ will present these to the Father mingled with the fragrance of His Spirit. They are wholly accepted, for if we have accepted Christ as our personal Saviour, we are born of God. We are His sons and daughters, adopted into the royal family. 13LtMs, Ms 33, 1898, par. 18

We may ask Christ to undertake our case, for when He gave His life as the propitiation for the sins of the world, He undertook the case of every soul. “Submit yourselves therefore unto God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, (not only in prayer, but in all your works,) and He will draw nigh unto you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purify your hearts, ye double-minded.” [James 4:7, 8.] “Who is a wise man, and endued with knowledge among you? let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.” [James 3:13-17.] 13LtMs, Ms 33, 1898, par. 19

God revealed His character to Moses. In answer to the humble prayer of His servant, “I beseech thee, show me thy glory,” He said, “I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee. ... And he said, Thou canst not see my face and live; for there shall no man see me and live. ... Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: and it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by.” [Exodus 33:18-22.] 13LtMs, Ms 33, 1898, par. 20

“And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God merciful and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and fourth generation.” [Exodus 34:6, 7.] 13LtMs, Ms 33, 1898, par. 21

This is the provision made for the people of God in all ages to the end of time. He who dwelleth in the heavenly sanctuary judgeth righteously. His pleasure is more in His church, struggling with temptation here below, than in the imposing host of heavenly angels that surrounds His throne. Those who wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places, are His special care. 13LtMs, Ms 33, 1898, par. 22

“Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God,” the armor that He has provided for every believer, “that ye may be able to stand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” [Ephesians 6:13-18.] 13LtMs, Ms 33, 1898, par. 23

Pray on, church of God, pray on, for the General of armies, with His angels that excel in strength, is with His people on the field of battle. The adversary of souls is determined to oppose all who plant their feet on the platform of eternal truth, who in this perilous time uplift the banner on which is inscribed, The commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. But rest assured that Christ fights with His army. He Himself leads His followers to the battle. In this hour of peril be steadfast. Christ will renew the strength of every faithful soldier. 13LtMs, Ms 33, 1898, par. 24

We need never distrust God. The just Judge repulses no one 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. You who feel the most unworthy, commit your case to Him; for His ears are open to your cry. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” [Romans 8:32.] Will He not fulfill the gracious word given for our encouragement and strength? 13LtMs, Ms 33, 1898, par. 25