Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 01: The Christian Life and Warfareby Watchman Nee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In the parable in Luke 18, our Lord Jesus points out these three aspects of prayer and their relationship to prayer. In this parable there are three parties: (1) the judge, (2) the widow, and (3) the opponent. The judge represents God, though in a negative sense. The widow represents the present church or individual faithful Christians. The opponent represents our enemy, the devil. In expounding this parable, we often pay attention only to the relationship between the judge and the widow. We see how the judge did not fear God and did not respect man, yet due to the widow's persistent cry, he eventually avenged her. Our God, not being heartless like this judge, will surely avenge us because of our crying! This is all that we say and all that we pay attention to, yet there is one most important figure whom we miss and neglect. Without the opponent, there would be no need for the widow to cry to the judge. It is because of the persecution of the opponent that the widow cries to the judge. If we consider the words which the widow speaks to the judge, we cannot help but consider the opponent. For the sake of brevity the Bible only records, "Avenge me of my opponent." How much is contained in this word! Does it not include a sorrowful tale? Those who cry out for avenging must have grievances, but where do the grievances come from? Surely they come from the oppression of the opponent, the one being accused. The Bible calls this one the opponent, which shows us the intensity of his hatred toward the widow. The Bible says that the widow asked to be avenged of her opponent. This shows the severity of the persecution suffered by the widow at the hand of the opponent. Hence, the widow was relating to the judge the history and the present threat of the opponent toward her. She asked the judge to punish the opponent and to avenge her for her grievances. Hence, strictly speaking, the opponent is the most crucial figure in this parable. Without him, no damage would have occurred under the judge's rule, and the widow could have lived and worked happily without being disturbed. Without him, there would not have been such a parable; nothing like this would have happened. The one who stirs up the wind and the waves is this opponent. He is the creator of all confusion and persecution. Hence, he deserves the most attention.
This judge was the unique ruler in a certain city. He ruled over the entire city. This speaks of God's power and authority. Although the world is ruled temporarily by Satan, yet this position is a rebellious usurpation. When the Lord Jesus was crucified on the cross, He cast out the prince of this world. In His death He stripped off "the rulers and the authorities" and "made a display of them openly, triumphing over them in it" (Col. 2:15). Although the world is now under the hand of the evil one, this is not a legitimate arrangement. God has set the time when He will take back the kingdom and put His Son on the throne for a thousand years, even for eternity. Before this time comes, God is merely allowing Satan's activities; the world still remains under the rule of God. Satan can rule over everything that belongs to him and can also persecute everyone who belongs to God, but this is only temporary. During this temporary period, even Satan is strictly limited by God. He can persecute the saints, but this can be done only within certain limits. Beyond the limit allowed by God, Satan has no authority. We can see this clearly from the story of Job. The judge ruled over the whole city; God rules over the whole world. It was not normal for a person under the judge's rule to be someone's opponent. In the same way, it is abnormal for Satan, under God's rule, to persecute the saints.
The disposition of this judge was that he "did not fear God and did not regard man." What sort of person does not care for either man or God? However, because of the persistent coming of the widow and her cry to be avenged, and because he was bothered and feared her persistence, he avenged her. The Lord Jesus used this judge as a negative representation of God. God is not virtueless like this judge. He is our loving Father, the One who protects us. He desires to give us the best. Also, He is not unrelated to us like the judge was to the widow. If such a judge would avenge the widow because of her unceasing accusing, will not God, who is more virtuous and loving and is intimately related to His children, avenge them because of their constant prayer? If an unvirtuous judge will avenge a person because of her incessant asking, at the least our God will work for His children because of their prayers. The widow secured her avenging by the judge simply by her unceasing crying. She could not have had any hope in the judge himself, for this judge did not have any virtues. However, our answer to prayer comes not merely because of our unceasing asking, though it is sufficient in itself to gain what we want; our prayer is also based on the goodness of God. This is why the Lord Jesus uses the words "will not God." The words "will not God" imply a comparison. If the widow who trusted only in unceasing asking received what she wanted, will not we, who trust in our unceasing prayer and who pray on the basis of God's goodness, receive what we ask for?
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