The Widow and the Unjust Judge

In the last verse of the Gospel of John, it says that in addition to what is written, there are many other things that Jesus did. In fact, he said that if they were all written down, the world itself could not contain the books that could be written.

There were many incidents in the life of Jesus that are recorded, but of the stories that He told and the miracles that He worked, there are seventy-five recorded. In Matthew 9 you can read how He went through all the cities and villages healing people. Ellen White says in the book The Desire of Ages that there were whole villages where you could go without finding one sick person, because Jesus had passed through town and healed every sick person in that town. (See The Desire of Ages, 241.)

I doubt that there is a single village or town of any size in the United States today where there is not a single sick person. The few miracles that are recorded were the ones that the Holy Spirit inspired to write down because of special significance.

In Luke 17, starting at verse 21, Jesus related to His disciples not only the truth about His second coming, but also conditions in the world in the last day just before He would return.

Note that when the Bible was written, there were no chapter and verse divisions, so this account continues into the eighteenth chapter of the Gospel of Luke. Jesus said that in the last days it would be like it was in the days of Noah and in the days of Lot and gives a number of counsels. Luke 17:33 says, “Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.”

Luke 18:2–5 tells the story about a lady whose husband had died, leaving her in debt. Her adversaries had come and taken everything she had, and she was in a position where she did not know how she was going to get it back. It says, “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while.” Verses 2–4. The judge persistently repulsed the woman. Again and again she was treated with contempt, and he continually said “No.”

Jesus described the judge as being unrighteous and unjust. The woman was in trouble and needed help, but he refused to help her. In this parable Jesus describes the situation that His children will go through in the last days. The woman did not give up; she persistently kept going back to the judge. Ellen White wrote, “It was Christ who gave the pleading widow courage and determination before the judge.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 175.

Many people at times have been short-circuited by the legal system. This was the widow’s experience. She kept going to the only place that she could go in this world to get help, and though she was continually refused and could not get the help she needed, she just kept asking. Finally, something happened. Luke 18:4 and 5 continue, “Afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’ ” This judge was selfish, but to save his own reputation he gave in to her demand. He was afraid that if she came too many times, eventually there might be some publicity about this, and his partial one-sided judgment might become open to the public. To save his reputation, though he had no pity or compassion, he decided to avenge her to get rid of her.

This story is not only to demonstrate the kind of legal system that His children will have to deal with, especially in the last days, but also to draw a contrast between this earthly judge and the Judge that we have in heaven. Notice what Jesus said in verses 6–8:

“Then the Lord said, ‘Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?’ ”

This is one of the most striking stories in the Bible about the conditions in the world in the last days just before Jesus comes. Notice how it ends in the last part of verse 8: “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” What is the implication of that statement? Jesus said in Luke 17 that it would be like the days of Noah, and it would be like the days of Lot, and now He says when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth? Does this text sound like all the world is going to be converted before the Lord comes? No, it sounds like just the opposite. It sounds just like in the days of Noah and in the days of Lot.

Jesus describes our heavenly Father in exactly the opposite way as the unjust judge. The unjust judge would not do anything to help, but verses 7 and 8 of Luke 18 say, “Shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him … I tell you that He will avenge them.” How? “Speedily.”

The widow, having lost her husband, was alone in the world with no one to help her. In the same way, because of the sin of our first parents, all on this planet have lost their connection with God, and we have no means to save our self except through Jesus Christ. Because of the infinite price that has been paid on the cross of Calvary, the elect of God are dear to His heart, and when we are in trouble and make an appeal to God, that appeal will be heard. And it will be answered.

It may not be answered in just the way that we think or expect. There are some experiences where it seems as if our prayers are not being heard or are not being answered, but it is for us to believe by faith. David also went through some similar trying experiences in his life. While being chased and hunted like a wild beast, he came to a point that he was perplexed as to what to do. Whom could he trust? Would somebody else betray him? He had lost confidence in everybody.

“He saw in every man a spy and a betrayer. In a great emergency David had looked up to God with a steady eye of faith, and had vanquished the Philistine giant. He believed in God, he went in His name. But as he had been hunted and persecuted, perplexity and distress had nearly hidden his heavenly Father from his sight.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 657. In this condition, David made some very serious mistakes. But, “Oh, what a God is ours, who deals gently with the erring and manifests His patience and tenderness in adversity, and when we are overwhelmed with some great sorrow!

“Every failure on the part of the children of God is due to their lack of faith. When shadows encompass the soul, when we want light and guidance, we must look up; there is light beyond the darkness.” Ibid.

“God works out His plans, though to human eyes they are veiled in mystery. Men cannot understand the ways of God; and, looking at appearances, they interpret the trials and tests and provings that God permits to come upon them as things that are against them, and that will only work their ruin.” Ibid., 672.

There are many people today who continually have this kind of perplexity. “David looked on appearances, and not at the promises of God. He doubted that he would ever come to the throne. Long trials had wearied his faith and exhausted his patience.” Ibid. David had suffered through long trials, being hunted like a wild beast by the king of Israel for approximately ten years. This, no doubt, felt as if it was going to last forever.

When I first started working at Steps to Life, my family was living in north Texas about 380 miles from the ministry. Because of the long commute, I went home one to three times a month. I remember, after I had done that for over three years, that in my mind I would ask, “Well, Lord, how long am I going to keep doing this?” Now it didn’t happen forever. No trial that you have in this world is going to be forever, though at times it seems that way while you are going through it and you don’t know how you are ever going to get out of the situation. That is also the way it seemed to David, and that is the way it looked to this poor widow. Concerning David, “Long trials had wearied his faith and exhausted his patience.” Ibid.

Remember, this is a story that applies to God’s people in the last days. The widow said to the unjust judge, “Avenge me of my adversary.” Who was her adversary? The word Satan comes from the Hebrew word, saw-tawn. It is an exact transliteration of the Hebrew word that is a name for the devil, which means, your adversary.

As the woman pleaded, God’s children plead and say, “Lord, avenge me of my adversary. I need help and I can’t help myself; I cannot get out of the situation that I am in, and I don’t know how long it is going to go on. Lord, please deliver me from this.”

The Bible says that God will avenge His own elect speedily.

In Zechariah 3, there is a story recorded where Satan stands up to oppose God’s children. He is their adversary and wants to destroy them. Satan does not simply work alone, but he has many agents. When God’s children pray, “Avenge me of my adversary,” their adversary is the devil and his agents. Those agents are the majority of human beings in this world, and they are working out some social conditions that will exist in the last days. James describes this, “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded.” James 5:1–3. This could be translated rusted or cankered. In other words, it is not pure anymore; it has become destroyed.

It “will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.” Verses 3, 4. Sabaoth is a Hebrew word that means hosts, the Lord of hosts, or the Lord of armies. “You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the just [the righteous person]; he does not resist you.” Verses 5, 6.

The situation described here did not exist in the world in 1750. It started in the United States of America with the slave trade. Abraham Lincoln had some interesting things to say about it. He saw the inequity in the workplace and queried if it was right for one man to work for 70 cents a day and for another man in the same company to be making 70 dollars a day.

This is the kind of world that we live in today, full of oppression and extortion so there are some classes in the world that are starving. I have met people in Africa with children, men who have told me that they cannot afford to eat more than one meal a day. In Isaiah 59:14 it says, “Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.” What do you do when, because of the legal system and because of the social system, some become wealthy and others cannot survive? Maybe you are on the short end of the stick and you are in a situation where you do not know how you are going to survive. What will you do?

In Psalm 50:15 it says, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble.” If you and I are going to survive until the end of the world, we are going to have to learn how to pray. When we get into difficulty and there is no way out, we are going to have to learn how to call upon the Lord and to depend upon Him to solve our problem, rather than depending on human beings. The temptation is always to depend on human beings to solve our problem. When we are in difficulty, we think that we need a physician. Physicians, lawyers, or even insurance agents certainly have their place, but the kinds of troubles that God’s people are going to have to deal with in the very last days are not going to be solved by physicians or lawyers or insurance agents.

Those who endure to the end will live by faith. In Hebrews 11:33, 34 it says, “Who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.”

Ellen White comments on this text in Christ’s Object Lessons, 172. She says,

“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’ (Hebrews 11:33, 34).”

Remember, when you pray you have an audience in the chamber of the One who is the most high God, who has absolute authority and power over the whole universe. Ellen White said, “We shall know what it means.” In other words, we do not know now; we do not know what it means, but we will know what it means when we hear the reports of the martyrs who died for their faith. There are some texts in the Bible we do not now understand. “By faith they quenched the violence of fire”? We do not know what it means, but she says, we will know what it means when we hear the reports of the martyrs who died for their faith.

In Christ’s Object Lessons, 173, it says, “If we surrender our lives to His service, we can never be placed in a position for which God has not made provision.” Have you surrendered your life to the Lord?

I do not know what situation you are experiencing. I meet a lot of people who describe to me situations that I can scarcely comprehend even after they describe them to me. I do not know what kind of trouble you are facing, but it is impossible that you could be in a situation where God has not made provision to help you.

As long as we are in this world, we are going to have problems on the outside. Jesus wants to come back and take His children out of the world to where there will not be any more trouble. We want to be delivered from the devil’s power. The widow said, “Avenge me of my adversary.” We want to be delivered from the devil’s power that is all around us and is causing so much trouble. But here is the problem. In Christ’s Object Lessons, 174, 175, it says,

“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 be delivered from his power within.”

That is the reason why we are still here. It is not that Jesus does not want to come back and get us out of this place, but before He can deliver us from the devil’s power on the outside, we must first be delivered from the power within. He said, “When you cleanse the cup, first cleanse the inside, then you can clean the outside.” Remember what He said in Matthew 23:28, “That’s the trouble with you Pharisees. You look good on the outside, but inside you are full of all kinds of corruption. You are full of hypocricy and lawlessness.” (Literal translation.) He said to clean up first what’s on the inside; then get the outside clean. Man’s way is always to try to make himself/herself look good on the outside. Keep up the appearance! Whole industries in the world are devoted to glossing over any imperfection in order to make us look good on the outside. But Jesus wants us to look good on the inside. Where is your heart? What is going on in your heart? Are you delivered from Satan’s power within?

Maybe you are troubled because of the power of temptations on the inside, and like David, it just seems as if your patience, your faith, has just been exhausted and there is just nothing left. Some may have prayed for so long for something that they say, “Lord, I cannot keep going.” Keep holding on; there are invisible armies of light and power who attend the meek and lowly ones who believe and claim the promises of God. These angel visitants keep a record of every detail of your life. They know every trial that you are going through.

They are also measuring your character development. Are you getting free from the power of the devil inside? A sure record is kept of any injustice or cruelty that is done whether mental, spiritual, or physical. Paul said, in his letter to the Hebrews, “A little time is going to pass for yet a very little time and then the One who shall come will come and He will not tarry.” Hebrews 10:37, literal translation. But James says, “The husbandman who waits for the precious fruit of the earth has long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. You be patient and establish your hearts, because the coming of the Lord is drawing near.” James 5:7, 8, literal translation.

God is doing a mighty work in the world. He is getting people ready in the midst of all of their troubles. The Bible says that we must, through much tribulation, enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22). God is working out a plan in your life to prepare you for heaven. Jesus said, “He will avenge them speedily, though He bear long with them.” Luke 18:7, literal translation.

Because of God’s long forbearance, men have become bold in trampling upon His authority. And they say what the Psalmist said, “Well, does God really know? Does He know what I am doing?” But there is a line beyond which they cannot pass. This also applies to nations. The United States as a nation has gone through a number of crises in the last few years. These crises are increasing both in number and also speed. Nations, families and individuals are in trouble more today than in any time that I can remember. God has often permitted matters to reach a crisis so that His interference might be more marked. We are fast coming to a time when the defiance of God’s law is almost universal. In talking to religious people, they talk as if we have the authority to adjust it. It would be a fearful thing in the Day of Judgment to be asked why liberty was taken to adjust something in His law. That is a question that I do not ever want to be asked.

The time is coming when man will change and adjust the law of God. Ironically, the only part they want to change and adjust is the very heart of the law and the longest commandment in the law. Jesus said it would be easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for a part of a letter to fail (Matthew 5:18). Very soon God is going to say to His children, “Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; Hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation is past. For behold, the Lord comes out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; the earth will also disclose her blood, and will no more cover her slain.” Isaiah 26:20, 21.

The Lord is coming, and when He comes the widow who could not get justice is going to be avenged of her adversary, the devil. The widow represents God’s people, His church, His flock, His fold, who in this world have been destitute, afflicted, and tormented. But the day is coming, the Bible says, when God will be Judge Himself, and when that happens, the decisions of all the unjust judges in the world, whether in the church or the state, will be reversed.

Whatever cross you have borne, whatever loss you have sustained, whatever persecution you have suffered, even if you have lost your life, Jesus is going to recompense you. In Hebrews 11, Moses chose to suffer affliction with the people of God rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, because he had respect unto the recompense of the reward (verse 25, 26). What is the recompense of the reward? Jesus said, in Matthew 19:29, “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.”

The story of the widow and the unjust judge is a story from which, when studied, we may find great comfort. Jesus said that God is going to avenge His own elect, speedily. He is going to deliver them and give them a reward for what they have suffered in this world.

Whatever trouble or trial you may be going through right now, I encourage you to cry out to the God of heaven. Remember, prayer moves the arm of omnipotence, and your prayer will not be lost. It may not be answered immediately the way you think, but your prayer will never be lost. It will always be answered.

Commit your life to the Lord, to His service. If you do, you can never be placed in a situation in this world for which God has not made provision. If you commit yourself to Him, He is going to save you. The question is not whether God will hear your prayers. The question is, “When you are in trouble, will you keep praying?”

[Bible texts quoted are NKJV translation, unless noted otherwise.]

Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Free Seventh-day Adventist Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at:, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.