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Why do the wicked seem to prosper?

Why do the wicked live on,
growing old and increasing in power?
They see their children established around them,
their offspring before their eyes.
Their homes are safe and free from fear;
the rod of God is not upon them.
Their bulls never fail to breed;
their cows calve and do not miscarry.
They send forth their children as a flock;
their little ones dance about.
They sing to the music of tambourine and harp;
they make merry to the sound of the flute.
They spend their years in prosperity
and go down to the grave in peace.
Yet they say to God, ‘Leave us alone!
We have no desire to know your ways. Job 21:7-14

Sometimes it appears that Godless people are prospering, never receiving any punishment for their sinful lives.

According to the world’s ways, they are successful and the world is giving them their rewards.

There are three problems with this argument:

1. Perspective – From an outsider it appears from their vantage point that the evil are not suffering. Just because their bank accounts are getting larger, doesn’t mean their lives are happy. Everyone faces some kind of suffering. You may be looking at a time in a person’s life when they are successful, but not seeing their whole life. Hitler appeared powerful, escaping punishment, for a time, then his life suddenly collapsed and he killed himself. You have to see their whole life to make that argument.

2. Punishment – God never says that he punishes those who are rich, successful, with large families, musical abilities, healthy livestock and who die naturally and peacefully of old age. God would be unjust to punish people just because of those reasons. When someone points a finger at successful people sometimes it’s because of jealousy.

3. Afterlife – While the people appear prosperous while they are alive, later, in the afterlife, the rules change. In death, rewards and punishments are different. In the world, you are rewarded if you are smart, likeable, a good businessman or you can woo people to work for you. In heaven, it all comes down to having a relationship with God. If you loved God on earth and had faith in him, you receive the reward of eternal life with God. If you shunned God and turned your back on Him, you receive the punishment of separation from God forever.

So while punishment seems to escape the wicked now, that doesn’t mean punishment escapes them forever.