Malachi 3:14, 15 state that the Israelites actually say that it is vain to serve God. What profit is it that they have kept His ordinance, they wonder or that they walk as mourners before Him. They decide that they would call the proud blessed because those who do wickedness are raised up. They believe that those who tempt God go free.
Job 21:14 states: Yet they say to God, “Depart from us, For we do not desire the knowledge of your ways. Who is the Almighty, that we should serve Him? And what profit do we have if we pray to Him?”
Psalm 73:12 states: Behold, these are the ungodly, who are always at ease; they increase in riches. Asaph laments, “surely I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocence.” He too believed that the wicked were to be envied because they don’t seem to be in trouble or plagued like other people. Their pride serves as a necklace; they have more than they could want. Asaph was envious when he saw the prosperity of the wicked.
This was before he went into the Lord’s santuary and understood the demise of the wicked. Psalm 37:38 says: But the transgressors shall be destroyed together; the future of the wicked shall be cut off.
Asaph realized the following about the wicked who seemed to be thriving:
- God set them in slippery places
- God cast them down to destruction
- They are brought down to desolation as in a moment
- They are utterly consumed with terrors
- They will perish because they are far from God. Psalm 119:155 says: “salvation is far from the wicked”.
We must never envy the wicked or think that they will go unpunished. Psalm 1:4-6 state: The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.”
Like Asaph, we get upset when we see wicked people prospering while the righteous seem to be struggling. We can’t understand this. I have heard people wondering why bad things happen to good people. I remember one of my co-workers questioned why a young cop lost his life. Why someone good like him died so young. He was in his late twenties. He left behind a wife and a baby daughter. Then you have the case of Casey Anthony who was charged with the murder of her little daughter but was found not guilty because there was not sufficient evidence for conviction. Many people believe that she got away with murder. She’s alive when her daughter is dead. She got off with a light sentence. This hardly seems fair. It seems like justice was not served. Like Asaph, many of us feel bitter and torn up inside.
Seeing the wicked prosper discourages a lot of people and this is the time when we are vulnerable to the devil’s temptations. He would use these occasions to turn us away from God. He would make us think that it’s pointless to serve God or remain faithful to Him when all we get in return in hardship, trials or struggles. Yet, we must hold on in faith. Joseph had every reason to turn from God. He was sold by his brothers and thrown into jail on a false charge of attempted rape. He had done the decent thing and not allowed his master’s wife to seduce him. He did not want to hurt him or sin against God. He ran from the situation but where did that get him? He served time in jail. Yet, he did become bitter or turn his back on God. He held on to his faith and God was with him.
Right now it may seem as if the wicked are doing well and enjoying life but in the end, their riches and possessions will not save them. They will eventually meet their end. As a rule of thumb, I try not to envy people because I don’t know what kind of fate awaits them. They may seem to have it all but in a twinkling of an eye, everything can come crashing down around them.