1345. Why do the Wicked Prosper?

Biblical history shows that the success of the wicked is only temporary.

IT’S WORTH CONSIDERING

WHY DO THE WICKED PROSPER?

As the Israelites were preparing to cross over the Jordan and into the Promised Land, Moses explained in graphic detail the promised blessings for obeying and the promised curses (Deut. 28) for disobeying God’s Covenant given at Mt. Sinai. Eight hundred years later, Judah was about to discover the consequences of her disobedience, especially her idolatry. In Jeremiah 11 we find God informing the prophet that He was going to bring disaster on the people of Judah. He would display His version of “what goes around comes around.” They would cry out to Him, but He wouldn’t listen. They would cry out to all their gods who were as numerous as their cities, but they, of course, wouldn’t listen either. Previously, the people had responded to the prophets’ warnings by killing the prophets. To add insult to injury, the greatest opposition came from the men of his hometown, Anathoth, and from his own family.

God tells Jeremiah that He is well aware of Jeremiah’s plight and is going to severely punish the people of Anathoth for their rebellion. The young men will die by the sword and their sons and daughters will die by famine. Not one person in the city will survive. While Jeremiah probably found some comfort in God’s words, he wasn’t satisfied. In Chapter 12 we find him pleading his case to God and asking the age-old question: Why do the wicked prosper? No doubt he was wondering how God could allow them and all the others in Judah to get away with such evil for so long, and why was all this happening to him? He was God’s prophet. He had remained blameless, but every time he obeyed God, things got worse.

God’s response was in essence, suck it up. Things were going to get worse. What the people in Jerusalem were about to do to him would make his experiences with the hometown folks seem like a walk in the park. Jeremiah then imagines the devastation God was about to inflict and how it would devastate him. God was about to bring the Babylonian army to punish not only Judah, but Judah’s wicked neighbors—Syria, Moab and Ammon. They would be taken into captivity in Babylon. By the time we get to Chapter 23, God is comforting the prophet with the promise that at an appointed time, Judah would return home. Even better, He would raise up a righteous Branch for David, a King under whom Judah and Israel would live safely in all the land God had promised.

AS I SEE IT

We all can relate to Jeremiah. We wonder why God is allowing all the evil around us. We wonder what’s going to happen to our nation and to us personally. We, however, have the benefit of the prophetic Word. While we don’t know the details, we know that things are going to get worse for us, too. All our plans are about to become irrelevant. The days we have been reading about are upon us. Most of us assumed that all these things were in the distant future, but guess what, that future has arrived. All the rules are changing, and our faith is about to be tested. We are about to discover where our hope really lies. What we believe is about to become really important.

The point of biblical prophecy is preparation so we won’t be taken by surprise. The prophetic Word also tells us that most people will be totally unprepared and very much surprised. God is about to do a mighty work, and Christians are called to be a part of that work, trusting so completely in God that our focus is totally on what God is calling us to do. What happens to us should not be our concern. If we are bond-slaves of Jesus, how things turn out is His concern, not ours. He has promised to take care of us. All He asks from us is that we show our devotion to Him by obeying Him one day at a time. God has promised that the wicked will be punished, but He’ll do it His way in His time. He has also promised never to leave us or forsake us, but He never said it would be easy. It’s time to suck it up and get ready. We may suffer now, but joy comes in the morning. The wicked may be prospering now, but it’s only setting them up for a greater fall.

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