Why Do the Wicked Prosper? (Job 21:7) - Radical

Why Do the Wicked Prosper? (Job 21:7)

“Why do the wicked live, reach old age and grow mighty in power?”
-Job 21:7

So this is Job speaking in the middle of these interchanges, going back and forth with these friends, or better put, miserable comforters, as he’s made clear at different points. And they’re saying to Job, “You are obviously suffering because of wickedness and sin in you.” And Job looks at them and says, “What are you talking about? Like, look at people who are prospering around me, who are living and reaching old age, and are growing mighty in power and experiencing all kinds of prosperity in this world who are wicked.”

And basically, Job is debunking the ideas of these miserable comforters, these so-called friends of his, who are saying, “That if you are righteous, you will experience prosperity. And if you are wicked, you will experience suffering.” Job’s saying, “That’s not the way it works in this world.”

Job 21:7 Reminds Us that Sometimes the Wicked Prosper

Like yes, we know from different points in scripture, Old Testament and New Testament alike, that there’s blessing that goes with obedience to God. And we could talk a ton about that. But we also know that just because we are obedient to God does not mean everything will go smooth for us in this world. In fact, Jesus, Paul, all throughout the New Testament, we see very clearly that obedience will oftentimes lead to suffering in this world.

And then you think about, and the psalmist asked this at numerous points. Like, “Why God, why do the wicked prosper?” To use language from Job 21:7 here, “Why do the wicked live and reach old age, and grow mighty and power?” There are many wicked people who are godless, who hate God, who prosper in this world. And this is a wrestling we see all throughout scripture, that reminds all of us that this world and prosperity in it and comfort in it, is not the indicator of righteousness before God.

Taught that Obedience Sometimes Leads to Suffering

In fact, in fact, you can argue from the New Testament that righteousness before God will lead to a lack of comfort in this world, and a lack of prosperity in this world. May even cut your life short and keep you from experiencing things like worldly power, worldly riches, or worldly comfort. What matters most is obedience to, trust in God.

And I just want to encourage you with that word today. Don’t fix your mind, your eyes, your heart on worldly things, worldly attainments, worldly riches, worldly power. Fix your mind, your heart, your life on obedience to God, no matter what may come. When that may lead to suffering in this world, knowing this world and all that it offers is not what matters most. Knowing, and this goes back to Job chapter 19, that this is not the end. And justice and righteousness will reign in the end. And all who have trusted in God and followed God in obedience to him will experience eternal life.

Job 21:7 Leads Us to Pray

And so God, we pray for your perspective on this world. God, we pray that amidst the wrestling over why this or that happens in our lives, particularly why we experience suffering in our lives, God we pray that you’d help us to keep our eyes fixed on you, to be obedient to you, to trust in you no matter what comes our way. Knowing that in the end, we will see you and your justice will reign, and your righteousness will reign, and eternal life, and eternal joy, and eternal prosperity in all the ways that matter most will belong to all who have held fast hope in you, for all who have held fast a trust in you.

So, in a worldly economy where oftentimes wickedness prospers, help us we pray, to keep our eyes fixed on you. Our lives, our hearts trusting in you and our lives obedient to you. May it be so we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder and chairman of Radical. He is the author of several books, including Radical, Radical Together, Follow Me, Counter Culture, and Something Needs to Change.

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