“How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost Thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” Revelations 6:10
The question, “How long,” has several applications in Scripture. Here in the book of Revelation we see how that it is the call of the martyrs who have been slain on the earth, “…for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held.” (Rev. 6:9) In the context of “injustice” and suffering, there is the question from the heart to God, “How long?”
In the days of Elijah, when the Lord through him was confronting the wickedness of Ahab and Jezebel, there came a day when Elijah would ask the children of Israel: HOW LONG…halt ye between two opinions?” Here he brings them face to face with time, and a choice to be made with respect to that time. It concerns HOW LONG it will take for Israel to choose to commit herself to God?
In Jesus’ day, he was confronted by the father of a demon-possessed boy. His disciples could not cast out the demon, and the Lord’s response was: “Oh faithless and perverse generation, HOW LONG… shall I be with you, and suffer you?” (Luke 9:41) Again, we are faced with this very short question, which applies to each of us, in the face of all that confronts us in this life: HOW LONG will God patiently endure faithlessness and doubt?
For the suffering servant of Christ, the question is asked in regard to the justice of God being revealed. With regard to Elijah’s day, the question became a call to the people to choose who they would believe, the God of Israel, or other gods. In Jesus’ day, the question was asked with regard to the opportunity at hand to believe God, and this with the whole heart…even in the face of that which was “impossible for man.”
There is yet another, “HOW LONG.” It is expressed in H.L. Turner’s great hymn: “It May Be At Morn.” He writes: “O Lord Jesus, HOW LONG? HOW LONG? Ere we shout the glad song? Christ returneth, Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Amen.” The question is the reflection and the expression of the heart that is daily waiting on God, for present grace, but also for the future realization of all that is true of him IN CHRIST. In asking the question,”HOW LONG,” the heart turns its gaze upward to look expectantly unto Jesus for time and eternity.
Father, give us grace to ask the question, “HOW LONG,” and to live in the light of Your clear and applicable response. Enable us to wait on Christ all this day, trusting Him for the realization of Your purposes, for Your glory and honor. In Jesus’ name, Amen.