Throughout the Bible’s story, there is a repeated call from God’s people—particularly those experiencing slavery, exile, oppression, poverty, or other injustice or tragedy—for God to intervene. The slaves in Egypt, the Israelites in Babylon, and many others called out to God to see and hear their suffering and to right these wrongs. And the Bible offers significant examples of God’s actions to rescue and restore His people, at times even taking revenge on their oppressors and enemies.
But these rescues were usually short-lived, and the various prophets continued to point forward to a final intervention, when God would put an end to evil and lift up the downtrodden. At the same time, these prophets continued the cry, “How long, O LORD?” For example, the angel of the LORD asked about the exile of the Israelites, “LORD Almighty, how long will you withhold mercy”? (Zech. 1:12, NIV).
The psalms are full of laments about the apparent prosperity and good fortune of the wicked while the righteous are abused, exploited, and poor. The psalmist repeatedly calls on God to intervene, trusting that the world is not presently ordered in the way God created it or desires it, and taking up the cry of the prophets and oppressed. “How long, O LORD?” (see, for example, Ps. 94:3-7).
In a sense, injustice is more difficult to endure among those who believe in a just God who desires justice for all His people. The people of God will always have a sense of impatience about evil in the world—and God’s seeming inaction is another source of impatience. Thus, the sometimes harsh questions of the prophets: “How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you do not save?” (Hab. 1:2, NIV).
A similar cry is taken up in the New Testament, where even creation itself is portrayed as groaning for God to rescue and re-create (see Rom. 8:19-22). In Revelation 6:10, this cry—“How long, O LORD?”—is taken up on behalf of those who have been martyred for their faith in God. But it is the same cry, calling on God to intervene on behalf of His oppressed and persecuted people.
|Read Luke 18:1-8. What is Jesus saying about God’s response to the repeated cries and prayers of His people for Him to act in their behalf? How is this linked to the need for faith?|