Why Do The Wicked Prosper?

Something I found very interesting was an answer to the question that I believe many of us ask at some point or another, “Why do the wicked prosper?” This exact question is posed by Jeremiah in the 12th chapter in verse 1, “Adonai, although you would be in the right if I were to dispute with you, nevertheless I want to discuss some points of justice with you: Why do the wicked prosper? Why do the treacherous all thrive?” (Complete Jewish Bible).

I don’t know about you but that sounds exactly like the conversation I’ve had with God many times! Jeremiah goes on to say that the wicked bear fruit but they don’t acknowledge the Lord and that the Lord knows that Jeremiah is devoted to him, so Jeremiah basically asks, what gives?

In Malachi chapter 3 we find a very similar question. The people ask, “What’s the use of serving God? What have we gained by obeying his commands or by trying to show the Lord of Heaven’s Armies that we are sorry for our sins? From now on we will call the arrogant blessed. For those who do evil get rich, and those who dare God to punish them suffer no harm” (Malachi 3:14–15 NLT).

The Lord gives Jeremiah an answer in verses 7–11. The Lord basically says that His people have all deserted Him and His ways and concludes His answer with “because nobody really cares”. But then Jeremiah seems to be rephrasing the Lord’s answer in the way he understood it in the next verses; like active listening where someone repeats something you said to make sure they have understood what you said. He says something very interesting, “They sowed wheat and reaped thorns, they wore themselves out and gained nothing.” I know that Jeremiah is referring to “they” as God’s chosen people who were deserting the Lord but it also resonated with me that this is the fate of us all. As Solomon declares in Ecclesiastes all the work we do here in this world that is of this world is meaningless. So an answer to why wicked people prosper is that what they work so hard to accomplish will all count for nothing in the end. It will all be burned up in the fire: 2 Peter 3:10, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar, and elements will be dissolved, burning with heat, and the earth and the works in it will not be found” (BLB).

Then in Malachi 3 God gives an answer to the same question posed there as well. In His answer He is speaking about “those who feared him and always thought about the honor of His name” (Malachi 3:17 TLV). The Lord says, “They will be my people…On the day when I act in judgment, they will be my own special treasure. I will spare them as a father spares an obedient child. Then you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not” (Malachi 3:17–18 TLV).

So know that what you do for the Lord, your obedience to Him, your thoughts of Him are not in vain. True you may not always understand why the wicked seem to prosper while you serve the Lord and seem to struggle. The Lord would say to you, “I have seen your obedience and I know your thoughts towards Me and you will be recompensed.” Our reward is eternity with the only true God! That is worth a lifetime of struggle. However, I do want to let you know that this does not in any way mean you have to struggle. There are plenty of verses that address the fact that God wants you to prosper, and that you are victorious. I don’t have time to go into all of that because it would be huge. But know that in the verses I’ve referenced in Jeremiah and Malachi God was speaking to people who seemed to be feeling discouraged about their situation in comparison to the wicked. So if you’re discouraged, now be encouraged! For God is with you and is for you. Who can be against you? No one!

I think one of the problems these people got into that were asking God why the wicked prosper was that they were comparing themselves to someone else. Other people should never be your reference point on what God does because we don’t know the thoughts of God. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9). God should be your reference point for what He does, and for everything else for that matter. But God in His ever patient mercy with us still provides us with an answer. Praise His Holy Name!!!

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