In my last post I examined what true prosperity looked like for the Christian. This post covers the Christian response to when the wicked prosper.
Life is unfair. This statement does not come from a place of unbelief or bitterness, but a truthful and realistic observation of the world in which we live. Dreams go unfulfilled. Hard work can go unnoticed by an employer. Cheaters sometimes win. Fortunes are made by illegal means while hard working honest people struggle to make ends meet. Not everyone gets a trophy.
We are living in the last days before Jesus returns. Lawlessness and immorality run rampant and are socially acceptable. For the Christian or the Church to speak out against such matters could lead to marginalization, open ridicule, or being deemed “judgmental” or “intolerant.” If our eyes are not fixed on Jesus, these troubling times can overwhelm our spirits. However, we must remember the words of Jesus and the Apostle Paul, who warned us of days like this.
“And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” (Matthew 24:12-13, NKJV).
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron…” (1 Timothy 4:1-2, NKJV).
Though it appears society grows worse by the day, this problem is not unique to our present world. The Old Testament prophets Jeremiah and Habakkuk wrestled with the problem of the wicked prospering:
“Righteous are You, O Lord, when I plead with You; yet let me talk with You about Your judgments. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why are those happy who deal so treacherously? You have planted them, yes, they have taken root; they grow, yes, they bear fruit. You are near in their mouth, but far from their mind. But You, O Lord, know me; You have seen me, and You have tested my heart toward You. Pull them out like sheep for the slaughter, and prepare them for the day of slaughter. How long will the land mourn, and the herbs of every field wither? The beasts and birds are consumed, for the wickedness of those who dwell there, because they said, ‘He will not see our final end.” (Jeremiah 12:1-4, NKJV).
“O Lord, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear? Even cry out to You, ‘Violence!’ And you will not save. Why do you show me iniquity, and cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before me; there is strife, and contention arises. Therefore the law is powerless, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore perverse judgment proceeds.” (Habakkuk 1:2-4, NKJV).
God assures Jeremiah and Habakkuk that the evil in the land will be dealt with, as He is sending the Babylonians to conquer Judah as His judgment. If you take the time to read through Jeremiah, we still see the heart of God towards His rebellious people as shown in Jeremiah chapters 29-31.
We must rest assured as Christians that the wicked will not reign forever. The Bible assures us in Psalms 37, 73, and 91 that the wicked will receive their punishment if they do not repent. In our present world, we can fall into the trap of hoping that someone “will get what they deserve,” especially when it comes to lawbreakers. What if God gave us what we deserved? Have we forgotten about the grace, love, and renewed mercies God gives us daily? Though Judah was about to get what it deserved, God still loved His people and wanted them to repent. God paid a heavy price for our redemption in sending His only Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins. That includes everybody in this present world, no matter who they are. The substitutionary death of Christ satisfied the wrath of God and now He wants to show mercy and compassion to everyone. A soul who refuses God’s gift of salvation will spend an eternity in hell. That is why God is patient, He wants all to come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
“Say to them, ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:11, NKJV).
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9, NKJV).
To endure these times, remember the most important weapons in our arsenals: prayer and the Word of God. Make sure to pray for those who are caught in the grip of sin and continue to take comfort in the Word of God that Jesus is coming and will set things right.