Why do the Ungodly Prosper
People are still talking about the result of the boxing match so called the “fight of the century”, in which a Christian boxer who is real regenerated or converted man, lost to the worldly, arrogant, proud, and deceitful fighter. Why did God allowed such kind of man to win and accumulate vast amount of wealth? A man who would not even give a small amount to donate to people who are in need, beat his wife in front of their children, and some other domestic violence.
Probably one of the most common problem or question in this life is the prosperity of the wicked and the suffering of the righteous. Why do God seem to let or to tolerate such a system?
I. Old Testament Characters who asked the same questions
A. Job 21:7 Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, yea, are mighty in power? Job 21:13-14 They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the grave. Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways.
B. Asaph, in Psalm 73:3 For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
C. Jeremiah 12:1 Righteous art thou, O LORD, when I plead with thee: yet let me talk with thee of thy judgments: Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously?
Some two thousand years ago before even Christ was born, this questions have already been asked. This system has been this way for a long time, and I honestly think it will continue until the Lord comes to make all things right. Despite of the “godliness, righteousness and faithfulness” of Jeremiah, he died a poor man. The Psalmist Asaph may have suffered the same fate also like the prophet Jeremiah. Job, who lost everything at the start gained twice as much as he had before (Job. 42:10)
II. Biblical truths about money, riches, wealth, and prosperity.
A. All wealth belongs to God. Psalm 104:24 O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches. Haggai 2:8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts. (see also 1 Chron. 29:11).
B. Everything we have is a gift from God. Deut. 8:18 But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day. (see Eccl. 5:19).
C. The love of money is the root of all evil. 1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Drug lords, loan sharks, arms dealers, politicians, kings, businessmen, etc., including pastors all tried to get rich. Most of them died miserably sometimes tragically leaving their wealth to another, their name and refutation shattered. John Rockefeller said “I have made many millions, but they have brought me no happiness”.
D. Riches often becomes a hindrance to the reception of the gospel. Mark 10:23 And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!
Illustration. The rich young ruler
Many there are who would think that the word “sorrowful” would never be associated with the words “rich”, “young”, and “ruler”. But such was the case of the young man in Mt. 19:22-23, LK. 18:18. He had position, possession, and youth. In spite of having all three, he went away sorrowful. He was sorrowful because of what he would have to give up. He would have been sorrowful because of what he would miss in the future. In the gospels, he is the only man who came to Jesus and left sorrowful. Earthy riches is more important to him than salvation and spiritual riches in heaven.
E. Riches cannot redeem a soul. Psalm 49:6-7 They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him: (See also 1 Pet. 1:18).
F. Riches cannot deliver in the day of God’s wrath. Zephaniah 1:18 Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD’S wrath…( see also Re 6:15-17).
Illustration: What money cannot buy
Money will buy: A bed but not sleep. Book but not brains. Food but not appetite. Finery but not beauty. A house but not a home. Medicine but not health. Luxuries but not culture. Amusement but not happiness. A crucifix but not a Saviour. A church-pew but not heaven.
Illustration: Some Quotations from rich people:
The care of $200,000,000 is enough to kill anyone. There is no pleasure in it—W. H. Vanderbilt.
I am the most miserable man on earth—John Jacob Astor.
I was happier when doing a mechanic’s job—Henry Ford.
G. Being wealthy is not sinful – 2 Chronicles 9:22 And king Solomon passed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom. King Jehoshaphat was rich (2 Chr. 17:5), so is King Hezekiah (2 Chr. 32:27). Joseph of Arimathea who buried the Lord was a man of means (Jn. 19:38-42). Barnabas was a wealthy land owner who sold his possessions to provide for the needs of other Christians (Acts 4:36, 37).
H. Being poor is not sinful – Many Godly people in the Bible is not rich. Most of the prophets are poor. John the Baptist was poor, Joseph was only a carpenter. The Lord Jesus Christ was not rich when He was here on earth.
III. The answer to the question.
A. The real solution to this problem is not in this present world, but in the world to come, where hell awaits the ungodly, and heaven awaits those whom God has redeemed by their faith in Jesus Christ.
B. Man’s prosperity is not necessarily a measure of God’s approval. Many people who have riches thinks that God is on their side no matter how they live.
C. The current economic boom worldwide has made many man very rich, but most of them are not even Christian. In fact most of the so called rich and famous live immorally and have their own or operates a shady business, taking advantage and exploiting peoples. Their wealth however, will only be short-lived or transitory.
D. David has written in Psalm 37:35-36 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.
E. If God has given few Christian material wealth, its purpose was that they may use it for the Lord and for others.
F. 1 Timothy 6:17-18 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;
Whether we admit it or not, we ask the same question also specially when in the middle of hardships. The thing is we have the Lord Jesus Christ who is able to meet all our needs and to make us go through all difficulties. Will you trust Him now? Will you put your faith in Him?
Note: For the next 4 weeks starting 24th of May, I won’t be able to post any sermon for the reason that I and my wife will be travelling overseas. Your servant needs to have a break also. If the Lord wills, I will be uploading my messages again on 21st of June. To all readers and visitors, God bless you all.