For Crying Out Loud #2

The Parable of the Widow and the Unrighteous Judge

Jackson Snyder, November 6, 2004
Dedicated to Gena Regan Lewis Hughes-Steinbeck

 

Justify me against the one who’s been unjust to me! 
(
Ekdikhson me apo tou antidikou mou.)

– The City Widow

 

She’s not the problem, we are.
   – Master Chief ‘Jack’ Urgayle in the motion picture G. I. Jane

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Luke 18:1.  Yahshua told them a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.  2.  He said,  “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared gods nor regarded man;  3.  and there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Vindicate me against my adversary.’  4.  For a while he refused; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear gods nor regard man,  5.  yet because this widow bothers me, I will vindicate her, or she will wear me out by her continual coming.’”  

 6.  And the Master said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says.  7.  And will not Yahweh vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?  8.  I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?” 

 

Exodus 22:21.  “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.  22.  You shall not afflict any widow or orphan.  23.  If you do afflict them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry; 24.  and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.”

 

Deuteronomy 32:6.  Do you thus requite Yahweh, you foolish and senseless people? Is not he your father, who created you, who made you and established you?  7.  Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations; ask your father, and he will show you; your elders, and they will tell you.  8.  When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of men, he fixed the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the sons of Elohim.  9.  For the Yahweh’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage. 

 

Psalms 18:1.  I LOVE thee, O Yahweh, my strength.   2.  Yahweh is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer, my god, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.  3.  I call upon Yahweh, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.  4.  The cords of death encompassed me, the torrents of perdition assailed me; 5. the cords of Sheol entangled me, the snares of death confronted me.  6.  In my distress I called upon Yahweh; to my god I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.  7.  Then the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations also of the mountains trembled and quaked, because he was angry.  8.  Smoke went up from his nostrils, and devouring fire from his mouth; glowing coals flamed forth from him.  9.  He bowed the heavens, and came down; thick darkness was under his feet.  10.  He rode on a cherub, and flew; he came swiftly upon the wings of the wind.  11.  He made darkness his covering around him, his canopy thick clouds dark with water.  12.  Out of the brightness before him there broke through his clouds hailstones and coals of fire.  13.  Yahweh also thundered in the heavens, and the Most High uttered his voice, hailstones and coals of fire.  14.  And he sent out his arrows, and scattered them; he flashed forth lightnings, and routed them.  15.  Then the channels of the sea were seen, and the foundations of the world were laid bare, at thy rebuke, O Yah, at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils.  16.  He reached from on high, he took me, he drew me out of many waters.  17.  He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from those who hated me; for they were too mighty for me.  18.  They came upon me in the day of my calamity; but Yahweh was my stay.  19.  He brought me forth into a broad place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me.  20.  Yahweh rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he recompensed me.  21.  For I have kept the ways of Yahweh, and have not wickedly departed from my god.  22.  For all his ordinances were before me, and his statutes I did not put away from me. 

 

Psalms 82:1.  The Almighty has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of elohim he holds judgment:  2.  “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? {Selah}  3.  Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.  4.  Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”  5.  They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken.  6.  I say, “You are elohim, sons of the Most High, all of you;  7.  nevertheless, you shall die like men, and fall like any prince.”  8.  Arise, O Almighty One, judge the earth; for to thee belong all the nations! {A Psalm of Asaph.} 

 

Probably will do an illustration from G. I. Jane here or somewhere in this message.

 

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“God Complex”  

   In our parable today we have three characters – a widow woman, a crooked judge and the widow’s persecutor.  We aren’t privy to the crime against the widow, but the story implies that she’s in the right – she’s been harassed or wronged in some way, and seriously enough for her to seek justice.  A widow’s justice was difficult to achieve in those days because judges were likely to be unfair to women and, as a result, judged not in accordance with the law.  Besides, widows were fair game for unscrupulous lawyers who promised security but delivered poverty.  The widow may well have been suing her lawyer, for all we know!

   In his lofty position, this judge feels he’s not only above the law, but also above G-d and above every authority.   The judge has succumbed to the “god complex”; “in my courtroom,” he decrees, “I respect neither gods nor men.  I AM God!”  Sounds like many American court justices – willing to do what they think the law ought to say rather than what it actually says!

   Despite the megalomania of the judge, he’s not a god.  He knows that in avoiding prosecution is dangerous for him; he will certainly lose an appeal – maybe then he will find himself implicated in the crime.  You see, widows, along with orphans and strangers, have special sanction in the law: for Yahweh states,

 “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him.  Neither shall you afflict any widow or orphan.” Exodus 22:21,22. 

Not only has a widow been afflicted by her adversary, but the judge’s hesitancy may render him equally guilty under the law – both adversary and arbitrator afflict her: the first, by his action; the second, by lack of action. 

   It may be that the judge is an ultra-liberal, his political inclination is to protect the rights of criminals to the degree of putting his view before the law; or maybe he’s an ultra-conservative, failing to defend the unalienable civil rights of the poorest, preferring the rich.  Maybe he’s taken a bribe to ignore this little case.  Maybe the defendant is one of his cronies or relatives or someone through whom he may gain political or financial capital by ignoring the crime and gainsaying the law.  Maybe the adversary is a religious official or a lawyer himself who devours widows’ houses while praying long public prayers (Mark 12:40).  

 

 

Nothing to Do with Money

   Would judging for the widow be such a big deal anyway?  Is the case already prominent in the press?  Certainly not!  She’s no Laci Peterson.  She’s no G. I. Jane.  ¿What could the adversary have done to her that a few denarii couldn’t straighten out?  Couldn’t someone just pay her off and be done with it?  Wouldn’t that save the taxpayer the cost of an appeal?

   Well, somebody’d tried to pay her off – first with a little, then with more – finally with a bunch of money.  But she won’t have money.  No way!  To her, this offense has nothing to do with money.  And though the world around her may think little of her cause, and though she might not even have two mites to rub together, for this widow, the case is far more important than any amount of money!  She wants her day in court!  She wants vindication and justification.  She wants to be heard out.  She wants her justice in accordance with the Law – no more and no less.  And she won’t shut up, and she won’t stop telling, and she won’t desist in calling on the judge, and she won’t give up with the press and the congressman, and she won’t end her storming of heaven, until justice and vindication and righteousness, according to the law already established on the books, is hers. 

 

What’s at Stake

   ¿And just what form does justice take for harassing a widow according to the law?  What’s at stake?  What’s the sentence to be meted out against the offender?  Why’s the judge so hesitant and the adversary so afraid?  Again we look to the law and are surprised to learn the measure of retribution called for:

 “You shall not afflict any widow or orphan [for] my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children orphans.”  (Exodus 22: 22,24) 

Is this not an extremely harsh decree?  Can you imagine a death sentence for harassing a widow?  Can you picture capital punishment for molesting an orphan?  And that the punishment extends to the offender’s wives and children, making them widows and orphans?  Does this sentence fit the crime?  Why would the law be so harsh on this point?  If Yahweh is compassionate and merciful, why does he call for death?

   Now we understand why the judge wants to shut the lady up and dismiss her case.  “Unrighteous” in his case means that he doesn’t follow the written law.  Yet she deserves, if she pleases and if she’s right, to see the man who done her wrong die.  Yes, if that’s her desire, and if the law is to be followed to its full extent, her adversary will be executed without mercy. 

   Revenge is a dish best served cold, says the Sicilian proverb, but the widow woman prefers to serve hers steaming.

 

Justification

   Now we see why Yahshua preached to those who sinned against others to

Make friends quickly with your accuser while you are going to court lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; you will never get out till you have paid the last penny. (Matthew 5:25,26) 

We have found this to be true unless the judge is unjust and the last penny is a man’s life.

   ¿On the other hand, does the threat of a stern penalty validate the judge in ignoring the widow’s plea and the law?  Does the heavy punishment justify the judge in justifying a lawbreaker?  (Remember from the last two messages [ 1 2 ] that the meaning of “justify” is “to free a person of the guilt and penalty attached to grievous sin.”)  Is there to be forgiveness without repentance?  Can one be justified without a valid confession?  Can one receive mercy without an allocution?

 

Yahweh’s Harsh Penalties

   As we’ve been saying all along, the harshness of Yahweh’s penalties aren’t designed to create more widows and orphans or take the lives of more offenders.  It’s not that Yahweh is an untiring political proponent of the death penalty – he isn’t.  After all, Yahweh made it possible that all might have life – and more abundantly – and more prosperously – and eternal.  He even sent his son to die as expiation for the crimes of those who pin their hopes upon him.  But Yahweh warns all who know his law that killing, in most instances, is a mortal sin that requires a life for a life.  An equal ransom. 

   You might argue for the defendant that he hasn’t taken a life – the widow is plenty healthy enough to raise a commotion about her case.  But your client has taken away her livelihood.  He may as well take her life.  You want to steal the sole sustenance of an orphan?  You want to deny the stranger his due under the law?  To do so means to put your victim to a gruesome death of starvation or privation or disease.  If you do so, then Yahweh says, be prepared to pay with your own life!

 Whatever you wish that folks would do to you, do so to them: for this is the law and the prophets (Matthew 7:12).  

 

   “Do you think I want to see the Law kill?” the Almighty asks of you.  “No, of course not.  My primary reason for decreeing grave punishments is not to kill but to protect the orphan, the widow, the stranger – the believer, the saint – by preventing crimes against the powerless or the righteous or the peaceful through the threat of capital punishment and divine retribution.  The death penalty is my deterrent, but it only works that way if a judge is righteous according to the Law and thus willing to adhere to the law, especially in the case of the defenseless being harassed and abused.  A judge always has the option of showing mercy – but never the option of ignoring the cries of the helpless victim or the careless breaking of an heavenly ordinance.  If the judge abandons your case, cry out to me.  I will surely vindicate you quickly,” says the Almighty.

 

   The judge is unwilling to judge for the widow because he’s ungodly.  The Bible language calls him unrighteous (adikiaV).  He didn’t really care about right and wrong or whether an injustice was addressed.  The widow didn’t have the ability to sweeten his pot – she’d already been left destitute by her adversary.   But this wasn’t the end of the case.  The widow woman wouldn’t take no for an answer.  She didn’t easily give up nor lose hope.  She knew the Law of Yahweh in regards to her case because, in those days (unlike these), the law was simple – simple enough that anyone could know their rights. 

 

The Moral of the Story

   Let me read the passage from the Law I’ve been referring to in its entirety now so you can understand exactly how simple it is, and know what the widow knew, and use what the widow used.

Exodus 22:21-24.  You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.  You shall not afflict any widow or orphan.  If you do afflict them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry; and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.

   Again, hear the word of Yahweh: 

 

“If you do afflict them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry.”

 

   This pronouncement makes any decision of the judge a moot point, doesn’t it?  No, there’s no middleman when it comes to the continuous cry of a widow.   So the moral of the whole story is that if a widow woman can wear out a godless judge, causing him to judge in her favor, then how much more willing is a heavenly father to adjudicate his daughter’s case and vindicate her if she cries out to Him for justice.  And how much more willing is a heavenly father to adjudicate your case and vindicate you if you cry out to Him for justice.  Unlike the unrighteous judge, Yahweh makes the rules; and if he desires, he can break the rules with impunity.  If you cry out for vindication, you’ll not get put off. 

 

Cry Out!

   Yes, if that unrighteous, godless judge fails you, you may appeal his decision to a higher power – you may go far over his head – to the legislator who wrote your rights upon stone with his finger and sent them down the Mountain of Sin with Charlton Hesston.  Who would dare dishonor you, dear mother?  Cry out!  Who would dare steal from you, dear brother?  Cry out!  Who would dare lay a curse at your feet, friend of Yahweh?  Cry out!   If you’re serious in your appeal, and plea in accordance to his will (which is easily determined by the plain letter of his law), you’ll not have to wait long, only wait short.

   When you cry out to him, circumstances and situations and people and resources start moving into place to bring about that which you have coming to you.  Mountains will move, if need be, because he loves you.  The sea will part if necessary, because he cares about your case.  Boundaries will be broken down in due time, for he cares.  And your adversary the devil, that old serpent, will be cast into the pit in chains, because he has dared harass a child of the Most High. 

   Widows, orphans and strangers, give it a little time, but don’t quit crying out loud.   If you remain steadfast in your hope, he’ll answer your need not because he needs to get rich off you, not because he wants some piece of you, but because he loves you and desires the best for you.  He’s your Father after all!  And your Father has power to knock down and build up, kill and heal, establish and repeal.  And he may be merciful and show compassion to whomever he pleases.

 

 Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.  Or what man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!  (Matthew 7:7-11)  And will not Yahweh vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?  I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily.  (Luke 18:7,8) 

 

Consider the Criers

   Indeed, we see the most effective “pray-ers” crying out (sa`aq) and do so continually, and are speedily vindicated.

   Consider Moses:  Then we cried to Yahweh the Elohim of our fathers, and Yahweh heard our voice, and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression; and Yahweh brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror, with signs and wonders; and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. (Deuteronomy 26:7-9) 

   Consider the afflicted Job: He lets the cry of the poor come before him; he heeds the cry of the needy. (Job 34:28)

   And the prophecy of David: “Because the poor are despoiled, because the needy groan, I will now arise,” says Yahweh; “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.”  The promises of Yahweh are promises that are pure, silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.  Do thou, O Yah, protect us, guard us ever from this generation.  (Psalm 12:5-7)

   Hear the Psalmsinger:  When the righteous cry for help, Yahweh hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.  Yahweh is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.  Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but Yahweh delivers him out of them all.  (Psalms 34:17-19)

   And the Testimony of Asaph:  Let the groans of the prisoners come before thee; according to thy great power, preserve those doomed to die!  Return sevenfold into the bosom of our neighbors the taunts with which they have taunted thee, O Yah!  (Psalms 79:11,12) 

   And hear the Maskil of Ethan the Ephramite:  O Yahweh, my Elohim, I call for help by day; I cry out in the night before thee.  Let my prayer come before thee, incline thine ear to my cry!  For my soul is full of troubles, and my life draws near to Hell [Sheol].  (Psalms 88:1-3)

   Who hasn’t felt close to hell?  Yet the song of the Sanctuary confirms the faith of those who are at the devil’s doorstep: Yahweh is just in all his ways, and kind in all his doings.  Yahweh is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth.  He fulfils the desire of all who fear him, he also hears their cry, and saves them.  Yahweh preserves all who love him; but all the wicked he will destroy.  (Psalm 145:17-20) 

   And finally, listen to the Prophet, and be hopeful that your salvation is drawing nigh: It will be a sign and a witness to Yahweh Sabaoth when they cry to Yahweh on account of oppressors – he will send them a Savior, and will defend and deliver them.  (Isaiah 19:20)

 

For Crying Out Loud

   For crying out loud, you invoke a power that can level any playing field, right any wrong, repair any damage, rebuke any tormenter, judge any injustice, restore any fortune, repair any breach.

   For crying out loud, you place yourself before the throne of majesty, in heavenly places, before the court of the righteous, in the halls of heavenly habitation.

   For crying out loud, you step upon the pathway of destiny, the will of Yahweh and the way of sainthood – and you fear no evil, for he is your light on that path, your advocate against the powers, your defender against death, and your abiding friend, companion and father.  Amen.

 

CHORUS:  Psalms 61

Hear my cry, O Yah; attend unto my prayer. 

From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee,

And when my when my heart is overwhelmed:

Lead me to the rock that is higher than I;

That is higher than I. 

For thou hast been a shelter unto me,

And a strong tower against the enemy. 

And when my when my heart is overwhelmed:

Lead me to the rock that is higher than I;

That is higher than I.

 

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