"These are dangerous times, and the threat of war is greater now than at any time since the end of the Cold War, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the Senate Armed Services Committee... (2)
Times seem to be getting worse and worse with good increasingly called evil and evil called good. (Isaiah 5:20. Ecclesiastes 8:11) However, times have been similarly bad before in history. (Ecclesiates 1:9,10. Ecclesiastes 7:10)
Those who call evil good and good evil are as good as dead, who turn darkness into light and light into darkness, who turn bitter into sweet and sweet into bitter. (Isaiah 5:20 NET)
When a sentence is not executed at once against a crime, the human heart is encouraged to do evil. (Ecclesiates 8:11 NET)
Do not say, "Why were the old days better than these days?" for it is not wise to ask that. (Ecclesiastes 7:10 NET)
Is there anything about which someone can say, "Look at this! It is new!"? It was already done long ago, before our time.(Ecclesiastes 1:9-10 NET)
The Psalmists experienced many of the same feelings we have today hundreds of years, ago. We will look at some of his Psalms and the conclusions he arrived at concerning the fate of evil by the illumination of God the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:12).
Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things that are freely given to us by God. (1 Corinthians 2:12 NET)
In transparency the Psalmist shares his feelings concerning how evil appears to prosper in this life while those of God suffer:
Certainly God is good to Israel, and to those whose motives are pure! But as for me, my feet almost slipped; my feet almost slid out from under me. For I envied those who are proud, as I observed the prosperity of the wicked. For they suffer no pain; their bodies are strong and well-fed. They are immune to the trouble common to men; they do not suffer as other men do. Arrogance is their necklace, and violence their clothing. Their prosperity causes them to do wrong; their thoughts are sinful. They mock and say evil things; they proudly threaten violence. They speak as if they rule in heaven, and lay claim to the earth. Therefore they have more than enough food to eat, and even suck up the water of the sea. They say, "How does God know what we do? Is the sovereign one aware of what goes on?" Take a good look! This is what the wicked are like, those who always have it so easy and get richer and richer. I concluded, "Surely in vain I have kept my motives pure and maintained a pure lifestyle. I suffer all day long, and am punished every morning." If I had publicized these thoughts, I would have betrayed your loyal followers. When I tried to make sense of this, it was troubling to me. (Psalms 73:1-16 NET)
Then the Holy Spirit illuminates the Psalmist's mind to understand what is the destiny of the wicked.
Then I entered the precincts of God's temple, and understood the destiny of the wicked. Surely you put them in slippery places; you bring them down to ruin. How desolate they become in a mere moment! Terrifying judgments make their demise complete! They are like a dream after one wakes up. O Lord, when you awake you will despise them. (Psalms 73:17-20 NET)
The Psalmist changes his view of the world and confesses God's way is just! That is, he repents of doubting God would reward those loyal to Him. (Hebrews 11:6)
Yes, my spirit was bitter, and my insides felt sharp pain. I was ignorant and lacked insight; I was as senseless as an animal before you. But I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me by your wise advice, and then you will lead me to a position of honor. Whom do I have in heaven but you? I desire no one but you on earth. My flesh and my heart may grow weak, but God always protects my heart and gives me stability. Yes, look! Those far from you die; you destroy everyone who is unfaithful to you. But as for me, God's presence is all I need. I have made the sovereign LORD my shelter, as I declare all the things you have done. (Psalms 73:21-28 NET)
There are other Psalms and Proverbs with the same message that evil may prosper in the short view but in the long view it will not:
“See the one who is pregnant with wickedness, who conceives destructive plans, and gives birth to harmful lies – he digs a pit and then falls into the hole he has made. He becomes the victim of his own destructive plans and the violence he intended for others falls on his own head. I will thank the LORD for his justice; I will sing praises to the sovereign LORD!” (Psalms 7:14-17 NET)
“He loved to curse others, so those curses have come upon him. He had no desire to bless anyone, so he has experienced no blessings.” (Psalms 109:17 NET)
“They have prepared a net to trap me; I am discouraged. They have dug a pit for me. They will fall into it! (Selah)” (Psalms 57:6 NET)
“The one who digs a pit will fall into it; the one who rolls a stone – it will come back on him.” (Proverbs 26:27 NET)
Let the wicked fall into their own nets, while I escape. (Psalms 141:10 NET)
“The LORD revealed himself; he accomplished justice; the wicked were ensnared by their own actions. (Higgaion. Selah)” (Psalms 9:16 NET)
“The LORD lifts up the oppressed, but knocks the wicked to the ground.” (Psalms 147:6 NET)
When the wicked sprout up like grass, and all the evildoers glisten, it is so that they may be annihilated. (Psalms 92:7 NET)
The LORD works everything for its own ends– even the wicked for the day of disaster. (Proverbs 16:4 NET)
Pay them back for their evil deeds! Pay them back for what they do! Punish them! For they do not understand the LORD's actions, or the way he carries out justice. The LORD will permanently demolish them. (Psalms 28:4-5 NET)
The godly will rejoice when they see vengeance carried out; they will bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked. Then observers will say, "Yes indeed, the godly are rewarded! Yes indeed, there is a God who judges in the earth!" (Psalms 58:10-11 NET)
Do not fret when wicked men seem to succeed! Do not envy evildoers! For they will quickly dry up like grass, and wither away like plants. Trust in the LORD and do what is right! Settle in the land and maintain your integrity! Then you will take delight in the LORD, and he will answer your prayers. Commit your future to the LORD! Trust in him, and he will act on your behalf. He will vindicate you in broad daylight, and publicly defend your just cause. Wait patiently for the LORD! Wait confidently for him! Do not fret over the apparent success of a sinner, a man who carries out wicked schemes! Do not be angry and frustrated! Do not fret! That only leads to trouble! Wicked men will be wiped out, but those who rely on the LORD are the ones who will possess the land. Evil men will soon disappear; you will stare at the spot where they once were, but they will be gone. But the oppressed will possess the land and enjoy great prosperity. Evil men plot against the godly and viciously attack them. The Lord laughs in disgust at them, for he knows that their day is coming. Evil men draw their swords and prepare their bows, to bring down the oppressed and needy, and to slaughter those who are godly. Their swords will pierce their own hearts, and their bows will be broken. The little bit that a godly man owns is better than the wealth of many evil men, for evil men will lose their power, but the LORD sustains the godly. The LORD watches over the innocent day by day and they possess a permanent inheritance. They will not be ashamed when hard times come; when famine comes they will have enough to eat. But evil men will die; the LORD's enemies will be incinerated– they will go up in smoke. Evil men borrow, but do not repay their debt, but the godly show compassion and are generous. Surely those favored by the LORD will possess the land, but those rejected by him will be wiped out. The LORD grants success to the one whose behavior he finds commendable. Even if he trips, he will not fall headlong, for the LORD holds his hand. I was once young, now I am old. I have never seen a godly man abandoned, or his children forced to search for food. All day long he shows compassion and lends to others, and his children are blessed. Turn away from evil! Do what is right! Then you will enjoy lasting security. For the LORD promotes justice, and never abandons his faithful followers. They are permanently secure, but the children of evil men are wiped out. The godly will possess the land and will dwell in it permanently. The godly speak wise words and promote justice. The law of their God controls their thinking; their feet do not slip. Evil men set an ambush for the godly and try to kill them. But the LORD does not surrender the godly, or allow them to be condemned in a court of law. Rely on the LORD! Obey his commands! Then he will permit you to possess the land; you will see the demise of evil men. I have seen ruthless evil men growing in influence, like a green tree grows in its native soil. But then one passes by, and suddenly they have disappeared! I looked for them, but they could not be found. Take note of the one who has integrity! Observe the godly! For the one who promotes peace has a future. Sinful rebels are totally destroyed; evil men have no future. But the LORD delivers the godly; he protects them in times of trouble. The LORD helps them and rescues them; he rescues them from evil men and delivers them, for they seek his protection. (Psalms 37:1-40 NET)
So, take heart and find courage because God is causing all things to work together for your good. Note I did not say all things to make you feel good. In addition, realize there are two conditions to this promise, that you love God and are living in God's calling. What is God's calling for every Christian? I am glad you asked! The calling for every Christian is to be transformed into the image of God's unique Son, Jesus the Christ!
And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose, because those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified. Romans 8:28-30 NET)
So, consider all the trials and tribulations (1) an opportunity for JOY! (James 1:2,3) You say, why in the world would I do that? Because the testing of your faith produces endurance and endurance will lead to your maturity (1) and Christ conformity! (James 1:4)
“Listen to this, all you nations! Pay attention, all you inhabitants of the world! Pay attention, all you people, both rich and poor! I will declare a wise saying; I will share my profound thoughts. I will learn a song that imparts wisdom; I will then sing my insightful song to the accompaniment of a harp. Why should I be afraid in times of trouble, when the sinful deeds of deceptive men threaten to overwhelm me? They trust in their wealth and boast in their great riches. Certainly a man cannot rescue his brother; he cannot pay God an adequate ransom price (the ransom price for a human life is too high, and people go to their final destiny), so that he might continue to live forever and not experience death. Surely one sees that even wise people die; fools and spiritually insensitive people all pass away and leave their wealth to others. Their grave becomes their permanent residence, their eternal dwelling place. They name their lands after themselves, but, despite their wealth, people do not last, they are like animals that perish. This is the destiny of fools, and of those who approve of their philosophy. (Selah) They will travel to Sheol like sheep, with death as their shepherd. The godly will rule over them when the day of vindication dawns; Sheol will consume their bodies and they will no longer live in impressive houses. But God will rescue my life from the power of Sheol; certainly he will pull me to safety. (Selah) Do not be afraid when a man becomes rich and his wealth multiplies! For he will take nothing with him when he dies; his wealth will not follow him down into the grave. He pronounces this blessing on himself while he is alive: “May men praise you, for you have done well!” But he will join his ancestors; they will never again see the light of day. Wealthy people do not understand; they are like animals that perish.” Psalms 49:1-20 NET
Selah (Pause and Reflect on this)
(1) Left click on the underlined phrase to open another article in a different tab with more explanation.