Take the Long View

Fret not yourself because of evildoers,
    and be not envious of the wicked,
for the evil man has no future;
    the lamp of the wicked will be put out.

Proverbs 24: 19-20 ESV

Wise parents teach their children the value of the long view, especially when their emotions typically overrule their reason. We can see things our kids can’t. “Be patient, and let’s see how this works out,” we might encourage them in a moment of crisis. “You may not think you need that now, but you will when you go to college … or get a job,” we may warn them when they don’t see the value in a particular course or assignment. “If you spend your money on that, it will be that much longer before you can buy that car,” we remind them at that moment when money is burning a hole in their pocket and they feel like they have to buy something. There are a variety of ways to say, “Take the long view.”

Here, the writer reminds us to “take the long view.” For those worrying that evildoers will ultimately triumph, don’t. For those thinking the wicked have it best, don’t. In those Genesis 3 to Revelation 20 moments, it’s easy to lose heart or focus … or hope. Do you ever wonder why those who pursue evil seem to succeed? You are not alone. In the words of some Old Testament prophets: “Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive?” (Jeremiah 12:1) “You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?” (Habakkuk 1:13)

God answers Jeremiah and Habbakuk and you and me with a three word phrase throughout the Old Testament: “in that day.” This phrase, occurring more than 60 times (see list below), indicates a day of reckoning is coming. Take the long view because things will not always be as they are now. “In that day, … when all things will be made right” is the idea being conveyed. This is what the writer of Proverbs is conveying as well: “for the evil man has no future; the lamp of the wicked will be put out” (24:20).

Don’t lose heart; take the long view. Perhaps spending time in Revelation 20-22 would be helpful in giving meaning to the “long view.”

Questions:

  1. In what circumstances are you most tempted to take a short view of life or circumstances?
  2. In what way(s) could you encourage someone who is tempted to fret because of evildoers, or someone who is envious of the wicked?

NOTE: The phrase “in that day” occurs in:

Amos 8:3,9,13, 9:11

Isaiah 2:11,17,20, 3:7,18, 4:1,2, 5:30, 7:18,20,21,23, 10:20,27, 11:10,11, 12:1,4, 17:4,7,9, 19:16,18,19,21,23,24, 20:6, 22:8,20,25, 24:21, 25:9, 26:1, 27:1,2,12,13, 28:5, 29:18, 30:23, 31:7, 52:6

Jeremiah 4:9, 30:8, 48:41, 49:22,26, 50:30

Ezekiel 38:14,18

Hosea 1:5, 2:16,18,21

Joel 3:18

Obadiah 8

Micah 2:4, 4:6, 5:10, 7:12

Zechariah 2:11, 3:10

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