03 July 2009

The Prosperous Wicked – 7.3.09

Jeremiah 12:1 Righteous art thou, O LORD, when I plead with thee: yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments: Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously?

The question Jeremiah asks is a good one, and He wasn't the only person in the Bible to ask it. The writer of Psalm 73:3 confessed, "I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked." David urges us in Psalm 37:7, "fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass." According to Proverbs 1:32, there are some whose destruction is chalked up to the prosperity of fools. In another place Jeremiah preached about wicked judges who seemed to prosper despite their wickedness (5:26-28).

I don't know about you, but at times I've pondered the very same question. If God is just and if you reap what you sow, why do those wicked people seem to be enjoying life? Why is it that they "prosper" despite their absolute disregard for the Lord and His word? Is their season of pleasure (Hebrews 11:25) ever going to end?

I believe there are two good Bible answers:

First of all, the Bible says, "The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works" (Psalm 145:9). God sends rain – in the context, a picture of blessing – on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45). His purpose in doing so? It is His goodness that leads men to repentance (Romans 2:4). God in His mercy withholds judgment from the wicked oftentimes just as long as He can in hopes that the wicked will repent (2 Peter 3:9, 15).

Secondly, the problem is rooted in our own shortsightedness. If His word is true – and it is – then the wicked doesn't REALLY prosper. The only reason the wicked SEEMS to prosper is that we're focusing on the here and now. God is just, and eventually everyone will reap the due reward of their deeds. It's just that God's timetable is sometimes different than what we would like it to be.

Proverbs 24:19-20 Fret not thyself because of evil men, neither be thou envious at the wicked; For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out.

Psalm 37:1-3 Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good...

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