Updated: Apr 22, 2019
Jeremiah 12:1-2, 5 You are always righteous, Lord, when I bring a case before you. Yet I would speak with you about your justice: Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease? You have planted them, and they have taken root; they grow and bear fruit. You are always on their lips but far from their hearts.…“If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?
In verses 1-2 Jeremiah speaks to God a question that is on the heart of many Christians today: “God, why do the evil prosper?” God does not answer his question….Jeremiah is not the only one in the Old Testament asking this question. We find similar thoughts by diverse people in multiple places: Job: “Why do the wicked live on, growing old and increasing in power….” (Job 21:7-13) David: “In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak….” (Psalm 10:2-11) and “This is what the wicked are like—always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.” (Psalm 73:12) and “How long, Lord, will the wicked, how long will the wicked be jubilant….” (Psalm 94:3-7) Habakkuk: “Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?” (Habakkuk 1:13b) Malachi: “But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly evildoers prosper, and even when they put God to the test, they get away with it.” (Malachi 3:15)
These were notable men, loyal to God: Job endured multiple personal disasters; David was a king and “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14); Jeremiah, Habakkuk, and Malachi were prophets of God. These men were not complainers, but strong men of God. They ask a valid question! But God doesn’t answer Jeremiah, nor does He say “You are wrong, Jeremiah.” What does He do? He poses a question of His own: “If racing against mere men tires you out, how will you hold up when you must compete with horses? If you stumble on clear, open ground, how can you keep going when you must scramble through dense thorny brush?”
God asks Jeremiah – and He asks us as well – not to compare ourselves with others, not even with the wicked, because such comparison is based on the wrong things. If you read the full text for each passage above you will find long life, prosperous herds, merriment, satisfied cravings, pride, arrogance, and riches … all things which are fleeting and only for this life. If you compare your life with these it will only lead to envy and discouragement, both of which will weaken your endurance and tempt you to give up.
God has not called us to a life of ease, but to a life of service. We will have all eternity to enjoy a life of ease in the presence of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but for now He has called us to spiritual warfare on behalf of our brothers and sisters in Christ … and on behalf of those “wicked” who are doing so well in this life! If they remain on that path their destination is eternal death, but our loving Father doesn’t want that even for them. They do not receive their just reward immediately because God is love: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
So what should we do? Don’t complain; don’t compare; don’t compromise. Instead, do good; trust God; commit to Him. “Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:1-4) Word of God: speak! Non nobis Domine+ by: Father Dana Jackson