Pestering God

Proper 24C
Genesis 32:3-8, 22-30
Psalm 121
2 Timothy 3:15 — 4:5
Luke 18:1-8a

This is one of those parables we have a hard time with. Is Jesus suggesting that God is like the unjust judge? Several observations: this parable comes at the end of a long passage about the last days. Other Gospels saw the end of days coming soon. Luke wants to push it off into the indeterminate future. So, we have to keep praying. Also, there is bad mis-translation in the passage in the NRSV. Jesus asks, “And will God not grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them?” The last sentence should read, “Will he not be patient with them?” There is no way to construe the Greek verb makrothumeo to mean delay. It seems to me the point of the story is that we are to be constantly reminding God of justice, of how things are in the delay, and God will be patient with us.
That fits with the passage from Genesis. Israel has wrestled with God, and extracted a blessing from God, and has lived to tell the tale. We are to wrestle with God until we know what blessing God will give us. It’s not always pleasant to wrestle with God: Israel limps the rest of life. But we are not to give up.

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