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Why does the LORD God let the wicked thrive (2)?

“You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, why do you idly look at deceivers and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?” 
I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.  And the LORD answered me: 
(A) “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. (B) “Examine the heedless, inflated person: in his whole being he is not straight within. But the righteous person lives by his faith. (C) “In fact, pleasure and wealth is a traitorous liar, like an arrogant man and never at rest. His greed is as wide as the place which receives the dead; like death he never has enough. He gathers for himself all nations and collects as his own all peoples….” Habakkuk 1: 13; 2: 4-5 
Things in the world around us – things across the globe – are very bad. The days are evil. Why doesn’t the LORD God do something? In an ancient book written by a man named Habakkuk around 610 BC (and preserved by the Jews in the national archives of Israel) we have a record of a man of God who asked the LORD God – the God of our Lord Jesus Christ – that question. 

Habakkuk recorded for us the reply he received. It was a good explanation: the everlasting LORD God is holy beyond measure and will send a violent enemy to show to His people His holiness. After reflection Habakkuk just couldn’t accept one aspect of what the LORD God told him: how could the LORD God in his everlasting holiness allow a hugely sinful and violent nation to go against a people less unrighteous and less violent than them and to thrive? In short, “Why does the LORD God let the wicked thrive?” 

Today, Christians like me are in a similar position. We too don’t understand. Maybe I don’t want to - fearing the effect it may have on my own interests.


‘God is much more concerned about our holiness than our happiness, much more about our character than our comfort.’ (John Blanchard)
The first three parts of the reply of the LORD God of our Lord Jesus Christ to Habakkuk are in bold italics (A), (B) and (C) above. First, (A), the LORD asked him to write down what he was being shown – and to write it plainly so that even a person who is very busy (running) will understand. The LORD God added something very significant: what Habakkuk would see and must write down clearly will be very relevant even until the end. What he would be told would be forever true.

Second, (B), Habakkuk was instructed to look closely at all men and to see that they could be categorised into two types:  the heedless, inflated person; and the righteous person. If Habakkuk examined the heedless, inflated person he would see that, outwardly reliant on his own strengths, his whole being isn’t straight within him – he is twisted inside. 

If Habakkuk examined the righteous person he would see that he lives. Yes, the righteous person truly lives – by his faith. Whilst the inflated person is “heedless” (takes no account of the existence of any vertical responsibility), the righteous person, by faith (taking full account of the vertical LORD God) “lives”, is alive to the LORD God – and is righteous in the sight of the LORD God. By faith.

Third, (C) the LORD God asks Habakkuk to understand one reason (the main one of several reasons) why the heedless, inflated person is in the direst of situations. Such a person is, in fact, (says the LORD God of the LORD Jesus Christ) a believer in a most devastating lie. That person has faith in that lie.

The lie is put forward by “pleasure and wealth”. (In the original Hebrew the word means “wine”; in the Greek “wealth”.) “He” is a traitorous liar, like an arrogant man and never at rest. “His” greed is as wide as the place which receives the dead; like death “he” never has enough. “He” gathers for “himself” all nations and collects as his own all peoples. 

The lie told by pleasure and wealth is traitorous – nothing short of arrogant, never-at-rest betrayal. All its promises are false. Why then does the LORD God let the wicked thrive? Because that’s what they want, what they’re determined to have. And thriving won’t satisfy them for ever..


‘Build your nest in no tree here....for the LORD of the forest has condemned the whole woods to be demolished.’ (Samuel Rutherford, author, 1600-1661)
What about “the righteous person” who “lives by his faith”? He lives by his faith (today) in the LORD God of the Lord Jesus Christ. Is that a lie? Or is it still true – even when other folk (today) all around are religiously believing the continuing 2,600 year old lie?
Sinner Syvret

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