Divine Delays

Luke 18:1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;

2 Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:

3 And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.

4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;

5 Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.

6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.

7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?

8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?


Deceptive Doctrines of Men

Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

I Timothy 1:4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.

18 This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare;

19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck.

I Timothy 6:20 O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:

21a Which some professing have erred concerning the faith.

II Timothy 2:16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.

17 And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus;

18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.


Human Knowledge and Ability

Isaiah 31:1 Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord!

3a Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit.


MEMORY VERSE: Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.

—Psalm 20:7


CENTRAL THOUGHT: Seasons of tribulation which try faith and perseverance and the combination of the increase of ungodliness, spiritual deception and human technology near Jesus’ second coming are presenting great challenges to those who would have simple faith and trust in God.




Luke 18:1 “Men ought always to pray”: “…as afflictions and desolations were coming on the land…they should have need of much patience and continual fortitude, and the constant influence and protection of the Almighty, therefore they should be instant in prayer…Men should never cease praying for that necessity of which God has given them to feel, till they receive a full answer to their prayers” (Clarke’s Commentary). “Faint”: be weary; exhausted; spiritless.

Luke 18:7 “Avenge”: to vindicate one from wrongs; accomplish the avenging of.

Colossians 2:8 “Spoil you”: lead you away as spoil. “Philosophy”: “the philosophy of the Judaic-Oriental heretics at Colosse, which afterwards was developed into Gnosticism” (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary). “A search for and knowledge of speculative truth.” “Christianity is not a philosophy, but a life—not a knowledge of abstract principles, but a personal knowledge of faith and love of God in Christ” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers). “Vain deceit”: that which deceives by being a show of what it is not; a hollow pretence (Pulpit Commentary). “There is a philosophy which rightly exercises our reasonable faculties; a study of the works of God, which leads us to the knowledge of God, and confirms our faith in him. But there is a philosophy which is vain and deceitful; and while it pleases men’s fancies, hinders their faith” (Matthew Henry Commentary). “Traditions of men”: those of the religious Greeks or those of the Pharisees, by which Jesus said they transgressed God’s commands. “Rudiments of the world”: the ceremonial laws of the Jews, which were as an elementary school master, to bring children to a higher law, which is Christ.

I Timothy 1:4 “Fables”: myth; idle tale; fanciful story. “Endless genealogies”: unfinished record of descent or lineage.

I Timothy 6:20 “Profane and vain babblings”: unhallowed and empty talk; idle chatter. “Oppositions”: objections to the truth of the gospel. The Greek word is antithesis—opinions advanced by one party against another. “Of science falsely so called”: a reference to the developing Gnostic heresy, the basis of which was a claim to having special, personal knowledge. The words science and Gnostic both originate from the Greek word which means “a knowing; knowledge, wisdom, or doctrine.” It was falsely called knowledge, for it was in opposition to the solid, experiential truth of the Gospel.

II Timothy 2:17 “Canker”: gangrene (which is death and decomposition of body tissue, resulting from either obstructed circulation or bacterial infection due to an underlying disease or severe trauma); pervasive decay or corruption; rot.

Psalm 20:7 “We will remember the name of the Lord our God”: “To remember him is to bear him in mind, and not forget him; to have the desires of the soul towards him, and to the remembrance of him; and to make mention of him, of his names, attributes, word, and works; which is both for his glory and for the encouragement of faith in him, both in ourselves and others; it is to call upon his name in times of trouble, and at all times, and also to trust in him and not in an arm of flesh; for it stands opposed to trusting in chariots and horses; and it is to call to mind past instances of his goodness, wisdom, and power, and be thankful for them, and make use of them to engage confidence in him” (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible).




The parable about the widow and the unjust judge is a summons to unceasing importunity, endurance and patience when there is a delay in needs being met and prayers being answered. Jesus’ question “Will He find faith?” turns the thoughts to the delay or time of tarrying before His second coming as being a time where faith would be challenged as well.

Paul’s warnings to Timothy of the developing heresies in and around the church of God in Ephesus mirror similar warnings he gave to the Colossians. He mentions that these philosophies were not “in faith” as were teachings that edified in a godly way. He also connected faith with keeping a good conscience; the failure to do so leads to destruction of faith, which he vividly illustrates by a word picture: a shipwreck. He warns against allowing false teachers to cause believers to err in their faith and speaks of how false doctrine steadily eats away at true faith, again using a word picture to depict the horror and destruction.

“It is the usual way with heresy to corrupt and destroy the gospel, under pretence of improving it” (Pulpit Commentary). Jesus’ teachings of the resurrection, a cornerstone belief of the Christian church, was being questioned and spiritualized by groups like the Sadducees and the Gnostics, who denied the resurrection in its literal sense. Paul had addressed this false teaching in I Corinthians 15. There were many whose faith was being subverted or overthrown by these devilish doctrines.

Isaiah, prophesying to the apostate Israelites of impending destruction and captivity, warned them not to go to Egypt for help. They disregarded his command and fled to Egypt away from Babylonian captivity, to their own destruction and hurt. Our memory verse reminds us that we have a choice between putting our trust in earthly powers or remembering to rely on God.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck




  1. Delay: How does this affect a person’s faith?
  2. Deception: Name the different terms Paul used referring to false doctrines.
  3. Word Pictures: How does Paul describe the effects of false doctrines?
  4. Horses and Chariots: In reference to our faith, what does it mean spiritually for us to go down to Egypt for help or to trust in horses and chariots?




The way the Gospels describe the end-time conditions—the deception and falling away of believers and the necessity of endurance in order to be saved—leads us to believe that the period of delay of Jesus’ coming is a huge test of faith for the followers of Christ. “While the bridegroom tarried…” We are definitely living in that time, so it is important to identify the many challenges to our faith. Our lesson today describes a few important challenges; however, we are not facing these challenges singly, but it is the coalition of these forces on so many fronts that is a danger staggering in its enormity.

Our minds are bombarded not only by skeptics and scoffers who “scientifically” reason away the existence of God and scorn those who believe in the coming of Jesus, judgment and eternal rewards or punishment, but we also face the many deceptive “Christian” teachings about the last days. While being surrounded by this host of doubts, questions and false teachings, the faith of Christians throughout the world is also being challenged by persecutions, tortures from which there seems to be no deliverance, afflictions that try body, mind and spirit, and prayers that seem to go unanswered. In the middle of this, trusting in the help from “Egypt,” as the Israelites literally did in the times of their apostasy and captivity, is a “logical” solution presented to our minds. We can fall into that today when we trust in human reasoning, intellect and ability. Daniel prophesied that human knowledge would be increased near the time of the end. As technology abounds we definitely see that taking place. We realize the peril of love growing cold and faith, which works by love, ebbing lower as the end draws near.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck




The resurrection is either the greatest miracle or the greatest delusion which history records. Without faith in the resurrection there would be no Christianity at all. Christianity stands or falls with the truth of the resurrection. If it can be disproved you can dispose of Christianity. In I Corinthians 15:17 it says, “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain.”

The resurrection distinguishes Jesus from all other religious founders. The bones of Abraham, Muhammad, Buddha, and Confucius are still here on earth, but Jesus’ tomb is empty. No one would ever say, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). But Christ made this statement and it came to pass just as He said it would. Jesus coming forth from the tomb, leaving all the grave clothes folded in order and the hand carved rock vault empty is the cradle of His church. It is the beginning and ending of our faith and it depends on believing in his resurrection.

Paul said in Philippians 3:10, “That I may know him and the power of his resurrection.” Having this kind of heartfelt desire to know the Lord more deeply will surely activate our faith to greater levels.

—Bro. James Bell