Today’s Reading: Job 19-24
Today’s Reflection: Job 21:7-9
7) Why do the wicked live, reach old age, and grow mighty in power? 8) Their offspring are established in their presence, and their descendants before their eyes. 9) Their houses are safe from fear, and no rod of God is upon them.
The argument Job’s friends had against Job went something like this: God punishes wicked people. Job is being punished. Therefore, Job must be a wicked person. Here Job points out a rather obvious flaw in his friend’s logic: there were many wicked people who were not being punished by God and in fact were prospering greatly. Job makes clear these people weren’t just lapsed believers who had perhaps become less faithful or diligent in serving God. These were people who had no interest in recognizing God at all.
Job 21:14-16(b) – 14) They say to God, ‘Depart from us! We do not desire the knowledge of your ways. 15) What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? And what profit do we get if we pray to him?’ 16(a) Behold, is not their prosperity in their hand?
So clearly, the wicked were not always punished by God. Nor are they today. The 2008 global economic crisis offers just one example of this. I recently watched the documentary “Inside Job” which chronicles how the American financial investment industry—including investment banks, insurance companies and rating agencies, and aided by government agencies, business media and business schools—triggered the largest financial crisis since the Great Depression. It wasn’t caused by market fluctuations or natural disasters or terrorist events or any unpredictable phenomenon. It was caused by the extraordinary greed of people unsatisfied with the millions and billions they already had, taking extreme and unnecessary risks with the wealth of the American middle-class. While average Americans lost their homes, jobs and life savings, the heads of the investment banks got a government bailout which they used to pay millions of dollars in bonuses to the executives who had just led their firms into bankruptcy. As scripture says, “the love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10(a)). These people loved money, and the evil they did in the service of what they loved speaks for itself.
And yet they were not punished by God—they continue to have six-figure jobs, million dollar bonuses, mansions and private jets—just as the wicked were not punished by God in Job’s time. How does one make sense of this, that righteous men like Job should suffer so much while there are wicked men who seem to see blessings all of their days? Job understood there was more to this:
Job 21:22-26 – 22) Will any teach God knowledge, seeing that he judges those who are on high? 23) One dies in his full vigor, being wholly at ease and secure, 24) his pails full of milk and the marrow of his bones moist. 25) Another dies in bitterness of soul, never having tasted of prosperity. 26) They lie down alike in the dust, and the worms cover them.
Hebrews 9:27 – And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.
The time will come for accounts to be settled, and every evil action to be addressed. But before judgment, God desires that grace and mercy have a chance to reach and change each and every soul, even those of the wicked, those who have rejected God in the past. And this in part explains why so often we see the evil prosper. It is so God can have an opportunity to reach them and show them He is the true source of all blessings, both in this life and in the life to come.
Ezekiel 18:23 – Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?
Romans 2:4 – Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?