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Why do the wicked prosper? September 9, 2011

Posted by daniel ayad in Biblical.

People often ask why the unrighteous seem to prosper so much. What is the reason for the wicked being successful? Why they are not in trouble like the righteous, and why do they increase in riches when they are underserving?

It’s actually a question that has been asked before, and there is a very valid answer…

In Psalm 73 we find this question.

Truly God is good to Israel, to such as are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; My steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the boastful, When I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no pangs in their death. But their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men, Nor are they plagued like other men…They have more than heart could wish…..Who are always at ease; They increase in riches” (Psalm 73:1-12).

The unrighteous appear to have it all. They do not show obvious pain or distress (pangs). They appear strong, whereas the righteous constantly feel their weakness. They seem to avoid trouble one way or another. They live life as if it is easy and they have no consequences for their actions.

This is in stark contrast to the Christians who must enter by the narrow gate which is full of trouble and difficulty. St Paul, the peak Christian, seemed to experience the exact opposite of the wicked “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia; that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life” (2 Cor 1:18)   

The Psalm continues “When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful for me – until I went into the sanctuary of god; then I understood their end. Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction. Oh, how they are brought to desolation, as in a moment! They are utterly consumed with terrors. As a dream when one awakes, So, Lord when You awake, You shall despise their image” (16-20).

Once you put life into perspective you realise that the wicked do not prosper. They are not spiritually strong or rich. They are brought to destruction in the end, tragically. Material success can never compensate for spiritual success. The spiritual life is always the most important life to man, and failure to succeed spiritually will result in separation from God.

The wicked are not restricted to destruction after death. There are many incidents which show the wicked being destroyed on Earth. They will suffer either on earth, or after death, or on both fronts.

Let’s look at a couple of incidents. Around Ezra’s time there were groups of people who tried very hard to stop the Israelites from building the temple in Jerusalem. These groups appealed to the King to stop them building. They initially succeeded in stopping the work, even for a number of years. However look how it ends for the group (Tattenai, governor the region beyond the River, and Shethar-Boznai, and your companions)

Now therefore, Tattenai, governor of the region beyond the River, and Shethar-Boznai, and your companions the Persians who are beyond the River, keep yourselves far from there. Let the work of this house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews build this house of God on its site. Moreover I issue a decree as to what you shall do for the elders of these Jews, for the building of this house of God: Let the cost be paid at the king’s expense from taxes on the region beyond the River; this is to be given immediately to these men, so that they are not hindered. And whatever they need—young bulls, rams, and lambs for the burnt offerings of the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, and oil, according to the request of the priests who are in Jerusalem—let it be given them day by day without fail, 10 that they may offer sacrifices of sweet aroma to the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king and his sons. Also I issue a decree that whoever alters this edict, let a timber be pulled from his house and erected, and let him be hanged on it; and let his house be made a refuse heap because of this. And may the God who causes His name to dwell there destroy any king or people who put their hand to alter it, or to destroy this house of God which is in Jerusalem. I Darius issue a decree; let it be done diligently. Then Tattenai, governor of the region beyond the River, Shethar-Boznai, and their companions diligently did according to what King Darius had sent. So the elders of the Jews built” (Ezra 7:3-13)

I hope you caught it…..the group who tried so hard to stop the temple from being built were told to stay away from the construction and let them restart their building. And to add more misery they were required to pay for all the expenses of the building. They needed to cover the bill for bulls, rams, wheat, oil etc…..day by day without fail.

If any members of the group refused to comply with the King’s edict they would have been hanged. Of course the wood that would be used to hang them would come from their house, not the king’s. Using the King’s wood to hang them would be an expense against his decree….

The above is one of the many incidents to show the wicked really do not prosper. Keep your perspective when you find others succeeding before you. “For indeed those who are far from You shall perish; You have destroyed all those who desert You for harlotry. But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord God. That I might declare all Your works.” (Psalm 73:28).  







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