Meditations in Malachi : 32. Ongoing Evil
Mal 3:15 But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape.’ “
There is an inherent problem living as a righteous and godly person in an unrighteous and ungodly society or nation. In challenging the people of God with the word of God, the prophet acknowledges this difficulty. It is just a variation of what we have already considered earlier, but it does highlight certain specifics that the wise Christian should be aware of.
Fact one: we live in a fallen world and large numbers of people (in the USA and UK this is now the clear majority) do not acknowledge God and live out their lives as they see fit, not as God sees is right. That is the unpleasant truth of living in the twenty first century. But having said that, it has always been that way! That is why Jesus told the parable of the weeds (Mt13:24-30, 36-43) and the parable of the fish (Mt13:47-50). Both parables remind us that good and evil live alongside each other and that a final judgement will only come at the end.
Fact two: God rarely seems to tell us when He is going to turn up. This means uncertainty. Will it just get worse and worse or will He come and change it? That depends on exactly where we are in God’s economy. According to the book of Revelation the last day appears to be preceded by unparalleled godlessness and unrighteousness, but are we actually in those days? Only the Lord knows. If we are not then, considering Church history as a whole, we may expect the Lord to turn up with revival and turn many people to Himself. There have been many prophecies and much praying over the last half century that suggests that that will be, but the truth is we don’t know when. Lots of people have tried to put a positive spin on the state of the church and the state of the nation, but the truth is that God has NOT come in sovereign power in revival in this century at least. Yes, there were various ‘renewals’ in both the USA and the UK in the 1970’s to 1990’s but we have not seen that sovereign move that has been seen in earlier parts of Church history – and we still don’t know when it will come.
Fact 3: Jesus anticipated these feelings of frustration because, when teaching on prayer, using the parable of the widow and the judge, he concluded, “And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Lk 18:6-8) Note the final words. What is he saying? Pray your heart out and keep on praying, but at the end of the day, regardless of whether you think you get answers or not – remain faithful!
So let’s remind ourselves by looking at the verse above, what it is that we have to contend with and stand against. First, says the prophet, “we call the arrogant blessed.” In an ungodly society values get distorted and we esteem those who are proud and arrogant. I’m sure you can think of public figures (often politicians) who are loud, brash and self-esteeming – and who, as a society, we applaud. Second, he says, “the evildoers prosper.” Those who are living unrighteously and are making big money seem to not only be getting away with their unrighteous and ungodly outlook on life, but they seem to be doing well out of it! Third, he says, “even those who challenge God escape.” Are the names of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens familiar to you? They should be for they are two of the leading crusading atheists who have been pumping their anti-God propaganda into the world for the last few years – and apparently getting away with it.
So, go back to the first ‘fact’ and remind yourself that so often God allows the ungodly to persist for two reasons. First because there WILL come a final reckoning either at the end of a person’s life or at the Last Day and, second, because the Lord wants to give each person every opportunity to repent and turn to Him before their times runs out: “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Pet 3:8,9) So, don’t get frustrated with the unrighteousness and ungodliness you see around you. Pray your heart out and “overcome evil with good.” (Rom 12:21) Regardless of what others are doing, YOU “let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Mt 5;16)