“Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, yea, are mighty in power?” (Job 21:7).
This ancient question has exercised the souls of men in every age. Very early, in the patriarchal era, Job had prospered both materially and spiritually but, when he wrote the words of our text, he had lost all his worldly possessions, as well as family and friends. The ungodly scorners of the region where he had lived were now demeaning and ridiculing him, yet they continued to prosper. Why?
The same vexing question occurs again and again in the Bible. The psalmist Asaph confessed: “I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked” (Psalm 73:3). The prophet Jeremiah also complained: “Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper?” (Jeremiah 12:1).
Examples in the present world abound. Any list of the super-rich and super-powerful today would include very few who are genuine believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, walking humbly and righteously before God. There is grave spiritual danger inherent in riches and power, unless these privileges are dedicated deliberately and sincerely to the work of God. Even a church—the church at Laodicea—was scathingly rebuked by Christ: “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing: and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).
God has promised to supply all our need if we are faithful to him (Philippians 4:19; Matthew 6:33), and we need to weigh all our standards of prosperity on the scales of eternity. “I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree. Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found. Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace” (Psalm 37:35–37). HMM