Bible Topics In The Christian Library
Chapter 7
The Wicked: Predators of Men
The Nature of the Wicked

One of wisdom's benefits is that wisdom provides defense against the wicked.

To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things; who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness; who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked; whose ways are crooked, and they froward in their paths… (Proverbs 2:1215; KJV). The wicked are the very antithesis of the righteous. They contrast in a special way because of their primary nature: the righteous apply the Lord's wisdom correctly, whereas the wicked pervert and misapply it. The wicked man is a special type of regressive fool; one who uses his intelligence to create folly. King David said, …he has ceased to act wisely and do good. He plots mischief while on his bed; he sets himself in a way that is not good; he spurns not evil (Psalms 36:3, 4; RSV). Jesus told of their origin. Speaking to his enemies he said, You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44; RSV). Deceit is the major weapon of the wicked man; and with it he gains power—power he uses to prey upon others. John spoke of Satan as follows: …that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world… (Revelation 12:9; RSV). Peter wrote this warning: Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith… (1 Peter 5:8, 9; RSV). This mysterious, powerful adversary of righteousness, father of all the wicked, is no ordinary fool. We are told, Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the Lord God had made (Genesis 3:1; RSV). Satan is the most subtle of all "wild creatures" (wild probably means "not in God's fold"). He may be very subtle, but he is not wise. Better words would be "cunning," "sly," "crafty," "shrewd," "wily"; and so, too, are those men who imitate his ways—the wicked of the world. But no matter how intelligent a wicked man may appear to us, in the sight of the Lord he is, indeed, a great fool. For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and he pondereth all his goings. His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins. He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray (Proverbs 5:21-23; KJV). Remember, Solomon said, To premeditate folly is sin… (Proverbs 24:9; SPRL). It is the wicked man who premeditates folly. …[the wicked] deviseth evil continually… (Proverbs 6:14; ASV).

A worthless man plots evil… (Proverbs 16:27; RSV).

He [a violent man] shutteth his eyes to devise froward things… (Proverbs 16:30; KJV).

…for their minds devise violence… (Proverbs 24:2; RSV).

Wisdom, Solomon said, is something like money; it is a resource. Knowledge and understanding are assets. They give strength. A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength (Proverbs 24:5; KJV).

For wisdom is a defence, even as money is a defence… (Ecclesiastes 7:12; ASV).

A wicked man is he who takes this resource and uses it wrongfully. Sound wisdom cannot be used wrongfully. What the wicked man does is to take what he knows of the divine plans of the Lord's truth, and makes changes here and alterations there, producing an inferior mutation. His knowledge, therefore, becomes perverted. A man’s wisdom can be compared with an apple. An apple is food providing nourishment and energy for the body. But an apple can rot. When it rots, we no longer call it food. The wicked man's mind is rotten, no longer worthy to be called truly wise. Because these kinds of men have freely chosen to corrupt God’s truth, they are an abomination to him even more than a rotten apple is to us. Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways; for the perverse man is an abomination to the Lord…The Lord's curse is on the house of the wicked… (Proverbs 3:31-33; RSV).

…in whose heart is perverseness, who deviseth evil continually… (Proverbs 6:14; ASV).

…[the Lord] hates a heart that devises wicked plans… (Proverbs 6:18; RSV).

…the heart of the wicked is little worth (Proverbs 10:20; KJV).

Men of perverse mind are an abomination to the Lord… (Proverbs 11:20; RSV).

…a man of wicked devices will he condemn (Proverbs 12:2; KJV).

The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord… (Proverbs 15:8; KJV).

The way of the wicked is an abomination unto the Lord… (Proverbs 15:9; KJV).

The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord… (Proverbs 15:26; KJV).

The Lord is far from the wicked… (Proverbs 15:29; KJV).

The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination; how much more when he brings it with evil intent (Proverbs 21:27; MLB).The eyes of the Lord preserve knowledge, and he overthroweth the words of the transgressor (Proverbs 22:12; KJV).

Like the fool, the wicked man is a product of a defective will. By their own choice, the wicked pervert their minds away from sound wisdom to pursue the transient pleasures of sin. Their mental orientation is similar to that of fools—backwards from what it should be. They love what they should hate, and they hate what they should love. …[they] rejoice to do evil, and delight in the perverseness of evil… (Proverbs 2:14; ASV).

For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall. For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence (Proverbs 4:16, 17; KJV).

…he [the Lord] thwarts the craving of the wicked (Proverbs 10:3; RSV).

…the hope of the wicked is transgression (Proverbs 11:23; YLT).

The wicked desires to do evil… (Proverbs 12:12; LAM).

…the desire of the treacherous is for violence (Proverbs 13:2; RSV).

…he that is perverse in his ways despiseth him [the Lord] (Proverbs 14:2; KJV).

An evil man seeketh only rebellion… (Proverbs 17:11; KJV).

The soul of the wicked desires evil… (Proverbs 21:10; RSV).

The wicked are men who have acquired some understanding, and have come to appreciate the value of knowledge, but they have become puffed up with pride. Solomon said, Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil (Proverbs 3:7; KJV).An high look, and a proud heart, even the lamp of the wicked is sin (Proverbs 21:4; RV). And Paul said, Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up (1 Corinthians 8:1; NIV). The wicked think that with the power of their knowledge they can sin with impunity. They use their major weapon—deceit—to prey upon others. Wisdom is light; it informs; it reveals what is true and right. Paul defined light in this broad sense, saying: …whatsoever doth make manifest is light (Ephesians 5:13; KJV). Darkness, then, is either absence of information or misinformation. The fool gropes in darkness because he lacks knowledge. The wicked man lurks in darkness because he creates it; he deliberately misinforms to gain advantage. I do not know whether it is possible to deceive inanimate matter (now that science speaks of machine intelligence), but living things are vulnerable to misinformation. The wicked misinform in order to weaken and manipulate others (to "soften them up"), and in order to escape the just consequences of what they do.

Magicians and actors also use deception (although they are not necessarily deceitful). But I respect them both because they admit doing so. They do so to entertain and/or to educate. The wicked are hypocrites pretending to be what they are not in order to gain selfish advantage—to prey upon the unsuspecting. They are the vermin of human society. Beware of what they say. The messages they send out are designed to entice, to lure, to mislead. Their signals are treacherous ones. They are the proverbial wolves in sheep's clothing. Paul warned of them, saying,

…even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is not strange if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds (2 Corinthians 11:14, 15; RSV). Solomon said: …the mouth of the wicked conceals violence (Proverbs 10:6; MLB).

…the mouth of the wicked concealeth violence (Proverbs 10:11; JPS).

…the mouth of the wicked speaks perverse things (Proverbs 10:32; LAM).

An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbor… (Proverbs 11:9; RV).

…the counsels of the wicked are deceit (KJV). The words of the wicked are a deadly ambush… (NAB) (Proverbs 12:5, 6).

Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil… (Proverbs 12:20; RSV).

…the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things (Proverbs 15:28; KJV).

…his [the worthless man's] speech is Like a scorching fire (Proverbs 16:27; RSV).

A violent man enticeth his neighbour, and leadeth him into away that is not good. He shutteth his eyes to devise froward things: moving his lips he bringeth evil to pass (Proverbs 16:29, 30; KJV).

An evil-doer giveth heed to wicked lips; and a liar giveth ear to a mischievous tongue (Proverbs 17:4; ASV).

…and their [evil men's] lips talk of mischief (Proverbs 24:2; KJV).

…when he speaks graciously, believe him not, for there are seven abominations in his heart; though his hatred be covered with guile, his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly (Proverbs 26:25; RSV).

They are "two-faced" men who speak with a "forked tongue." They utilize an underground language to communicate with their accomplices, while misleading their hapless victims. A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech. He winks with his eyes, he signals with his feet, he makes signs with his fingers (Proverbs 6:12, 13; LAM).

He that winketh with the eye causeth sorrow… (Proverbs 10:10; KJV).

Doing violence does not always refer to a literal attack against the body of another. There are more subtle, indirect ways to "shed blood." There are (for want of a better expression) "white collar" ways to devour others. These are tactics especially popular with the better-educated predators of the world, such as plundering, oppressing, and destroying men’s lives without laying a hand upon them. Of course, in most cases it is all perfectly "legal"; that is, according to human law. These include ways to commit violence with "the mouth," such as the use of obscure or ambiguous laws, fine print agreements, half-truths, innuendo, gossip, flattery, and the like. Isaiah rebuked the leaders of Israel, saying: The Lord has taken his place to contend, he stands to judge his people. The Lord enters into judgment with the elders and princes of his people: "It is you who have devoured the vineyard, the spoil of the poor is in your houses. What do you mean by crushing my people, by grinding the face of the poor?" says the Lord God of hosts (Isaiah 3:13-15; RSV). Micah said: Woe to those who devise wickedness and work evil upon their beds! When the morning dawns, they perform it, because it is in the power of their hand. They covet fields, and seize them; and houses, and take them away; they oppress a man and his house, a man and his inheritance (Micah 2:1, 2; RSV).

And I [the Lord] said: Hear, you heads of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel! Is it not for you to know justice?—you who hate the good and love the evil, who tear the skin from off my people, and their flesh from off their bones; who eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin from off them, and break their bones in pieces, and chop them up like meat in a kettle, like flesh in a caldron. Then they will cry to the Lord, but he will not answer them; he will hide his face from them at that time, because they have made their deeds evil (Micah 3:1-4; RSV).

To a later generation Ezekiel said: Thus says the Lord God: Enough, O princes of Israel! Put away violence and oppression, and execute justice and righteousness; cease your evictions of my people, says the Lord God (Ezekiel 45:9; RSV). Life, recall, is like a journey in the night. The way of righteousness is like a pathway; and if we walk in the light of truth, our steps will not wander from it. But (like all fools) the wicked man vacillates his behavior; here obedient and lawful, there rebellious and criminal. They may live rightly or live wrongly at any one time, depending upon purely selfish goals. They feel free to walk the path of righteousness or to deviate into darkness as the situation requires. Right and wrong have no objective meaning for them; whatever benefits them personally counts. Therefore, they live crooked lives. To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things; who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness; who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked; whose ways are crooked, and they froward in their paths… (Proverbs 2:1215; KJV).

Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away (Proverbs 4:14, 15; KJV).

…the hands of the wicked produce sins (Proverbs 10:16; LXX).

…a wicked man acts shamefully and disgracefully (Proverbs 13:5; RSV).

The way of the guilty is crooked… (Proverbs 21:8; RSV).

These men of perverted mind neither know the meaning of real justice, A wicked man receiveth a bribe out of the bosom, to pervert the ways of justice (Proverbs 17:23; ASV).

…but [justice done is] dismay to evildoers (Proverbs 21:15; RSV).

Evil men understand not justice… (Proverbs 28:5; ASV)

nor do they show mercy; …he [the wicked man] soweth discord (Proverbs 6:14; KJV).

…the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel (Proverbs 12:10; KJV)

…his neighbor finds no mercy in his [the wicked man's] eyes (Proverbs 21:10; RSV).

A wicked man hardeneth his face… (Proverbs 21:29; KJV).

…the wicked man has no such concern [for the rights of the poor] (Proverbs 29:7; NAB).

and they hate the upright. …he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury (Proverbs 9:7; RSV).

The bloodthirsty hate the upright… (Proverbs 29:10; KJV).

…he whose way is straight is an abomination to the wicked (Proverbs 29:27; RSV).

The way of the wicked is an abomination to God, because they use both their minds and their bodies to bring harm and sorrow to the innocent. Solomon said: These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he who soweth discord among brethren (Proverbs 6:16-19; KJV). In two of David's psalms, there is a good summary description of these kinds of men: In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor; let them be caught in the schemes which they have devised. For the wicked boasts of the desires of his heart, and the man greedy for gain curses and renounces the Lord. In the pride of his countenance the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, "There is no God." His ways prosper at all times; thy judgments are on high, out of his sight; as for all his foes, he puffs at them. He thinks in his heart, "I shall not be moved; throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity." His mouth is filled with cursing and deceit and oppression; under his tongue are mischief and iniquity. He sits in ambush in the villages; in hiding places he murders the innocent. His eyes stealthily watch for the hapless, he lurks in secret like a lion in his covert; he lurks that he may seize the poor, he seizes the poor when he draws him into his net. The hapless is crushed, sinks down, and falls by his might. He thinks in his heart, "God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it" (Psalms 10:2-11; RSV).

Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes. For he flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated. The words of his mouth are mischief and deceit; he has ceased to act wisely and do good. He plots mischief while on his bed; he sets himself in a way that is not good; he spurns not evil (Psalms 36:1-4; RSV).

Jesus issued a special warning about certain kinds of wicked men who prey upon others while claiming to speak for God. They can be detected by the way they live, and by the results of their manner of living. Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits (Matthew 7:15-20; RSV). In sum: The wicked man is a special kind of regressive fool who perverts his knowledge and uses it with deceit and craftiness to prey upon other men. He is a proud and cruel man who loves to plot, and then carry out, his evil against others.
Envy of the Wicked

Until the individual gains enough insight to understand its deadly nature, there can be temptation to enter their paths and to walk in their ways. Observing their successes can make a man envious. Solomon pleaded,

Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them (Proverbs 24:1; KJV).Fret not thyself because of evil-doers; neither be thou envious at the wicked: for there shall be no reward to the evil man; the lamp of the wicked shall be put out (Proverbs 24:19, 20; ASV). One of the Psalmists describes the temptation with greater detail: Truly God is good to the upright, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had well nigh slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For they have no pangs; their bodies are sound and sleek. They are not in trouble as other men are; they are not stricken like other men. Therefore pride is their necklace; violence covers them as a garment. Their eyes swell out with fatness, their hearts overflow with follies. They scoff and speak with malice; loftily they threaten oppression. They set their mouths against the heavens, and their tongue struts through the earth. Therefore the people turn and praise them, and find no fault in them. And they say, "How can God know? Is there knowledge in the Most High?" Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches. All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. For all the day long I have been striken, and chastened every morning. If I had said, "I will speak thus," I would have been untrue to the generation of thy children. But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I perceived their end. Truly thou dost set them in slippery places: thou dost make them fall to ruin. How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors! They are like a dream when one awakes, on awaking you despise their phantoms. When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was stupid and ignorant, I was like a beast toward thee. Nevertheless I am continually with thee; thou dost hold my right hand. Thou dost guide me with thy counsel, and afterward thou wilt receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is nothing upon earth that I desire besides thee. My flesh and my heart may fail but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.

For lo, those who are far from thee shall perish; thou dost put an end to those who are false to thee. But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all thy works (Psalm 73; RSV).

When we are young and lacking in much wisdom, we seem especially vulnerable to joining in league with the more physical kind. It takes less skill, and it seems to offer such an easy way to get rich. Solomon said, My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. If they say, "Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood, let us wantonly ambush the innocent; like Sheol let us swallow them alive and whole, like those who go down to the Pit; we shall find all precious goods, we shall fill our houses with spoil; throw in your lot among us, we will all have one purse" (Proverbs 1:10-14; RSV). Solomon went on to warn those who may be tempted, to look ahead toward the future: …my son, do not walk in the way with them, hold back your foot from their paths; for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood. For in vain is a net spread in the sight of any bird; but these men lie in wait for their own blood. They set an ambush for their own lives. Such are the ways of all who get gain by violence; it takes away the life of its possessors (Proverbs 1:15-19; RSV). The wicked are, indeed, shortsighted fools playing a deadly game of Russian roulette. For any one act the odds are in their favor. Thus, they usually get away with their mischief for a while. But the longer they indulge in it, and the more they play the vicious game, sooner or later the hammer finds the full chamber.

In sum: No matter how much they may gain, it is foolish to envy the wicked because they have no future.

The Punishment of the Wicked

Solomon expressed many times over the various harsh penalties to expect for those who lived wickedly. He also said their punishment is guaranteed.

Certainly the evil-doer will not go free from punishment… (Proverbs 11:21; BAS).

A man shall not be established by wickedness… (Proverbs 12:3; KJV).

Do they not err that devise evil? (Proverbs 14:22; KJV).

For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out (Proverbs 24:20; KJV).

Like fast-growing weeds, the wicked may quickly become big and overbearing (depending upon their opportunities and their cunning), but their "successes" are deceptive because they have no future. Treasures of wickedness profit nothing… (Proverbs 10:2; KJV).

What the wicked dreads will come upon him… (Proverbs 10:24; RSV).

…the expectation of the wicked comes to naught (Proverbs 10:28; RSV).

When the wicked dies, his hope perishes, and the expectation of the godless come to naught (Proverbs 11:7; RSV).

…the wicked gets into it [trouble] instead [of the righteous] (Proverbs 11:8; RSV).

The wicked achieve a deceitful recompense (Proverbs 11:18; SPRL).

…the wicked are filled with trouble (Proverbs 12:21; RSV).

…in the revenues of the wicked is trouble (Proverbs 15:6; KJV).

A man of crooked mind does not prosper, and one with a perverse tongue falls into calamity (Proverbs 17:20; RSV).

If the Lord sees any hope for a man, in his great mercy and patience he will try to correct him. But if he continually rebels, even the Lord will give up on him. My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction: for whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth (Proverbs 3:11, 12; KJV).

…he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief (Proverbs 28:14; KJV).

He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck will suddenly be broken beyond healing (Proverbs 29:1; RSV).

When the Lord's wrath descends upon the wicked, their end will be swift. Catastrophe will strike them from any one of a host of directions—legal or illegal (by human laws), from men or from nature. Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh (Proverbs 3:25; KJV).

…therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment he will be broken beyond healing (Proverbs 6:15; RSV).

When the tempest passes, the wicked is no more… (Proverbs 10:25; RSV).

…sudden will be the fall of him whose ways are twisted (Proverbs 28:18; BAS).

These kinds of transgressors know they are doing wrong, and they know there are many risks. But they are incapable of either anticipating or preventing what will ruin them because they walk in darkness surrounded by traps. The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble (Proverbs 4:19; KJV).

…the way of the faithless is their ruin (Proverbs 13:15; RSV).

Evil pursueth sinners… (Proverbs 13:21; RSV).

The crooked man's path is set with snares and pitfalls… (Proverbs 22:5; NEB).

Lie not in wait as a wicked man against the dwelling of the righteous; do not violence to his home; for a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again; but the wicked are overthrown by calamity (Proverbs 24:15, 16; RSV).

The wicked flee when no man pursueth… (Proverbs 28:1; KJV).

But the wicked are eventually exposed to people and justly condemned. …he who perverts his ways will be found out (Proverbs 10:9; RSV).

…he that is of a perverse heart shall be despised (Proverbs 12:8; KJV).

…a man of wicked devices is hated (Proverbs 14:17; YLT).

With wickedness comes contempt; and with dishonor comes disgrace (Proverbs 18:3; AAT).

He who plots evil doing—men call him an intriguer (Proverbs 24:8; NAB).

The power of law enforcement and the justice system is designed to oppose and punish them. An evil man seeketh only rebellion: therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him (Proverbs 17:11; KJV).

A wise king scattereth the wicked, and bringeth the wheel over them (Proverbs 20:26; KJV).

…it [justice done] is a destruction to the workers of iniquity (Proverbs 21:15; ASV).

Most awesome is the curse of God that is upon the wicked The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked… (Proverbs 3:33; KJV).…he [the Lord] casteth away the substance of the wicked (Proverbs 10:3; KJV).

…a man of wicked devices will he [the Lord] condemn (Proverbs 12:2; KJV).

The Lord is far from the wicked… (Proverbs 15:29; KJV).

…he [the Lord] overthroweth the words of the transgressor (Proverbs 22:12; KJV).

Indeed, having anticipated rebellion, the Lord made provision within his divine plans for dealing with the rebellious. Remember, Solomon said, The Lord hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil (Proverbs 16:4; KJV). Paul also said, What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the vessels of wrath made for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for the vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom he has called… (Romans 9:22-24; RSV). In His infinite wisdom the Lord has built into the laws of nature the consequences of wickedness, even as the rewards of righteousness are built into the universal design plans of God. Ironically, the very behavior of the wicked initiates their own punishment; it sets in motion a train of events (often imperceptible to us) that causes the evil they create to rebound upon their own heads. It may be years in coming, but the consequences are as inevitable as are the growth of crops when the farmer buries seeds beneath the surface. …these men lie in wait for their own blood, they set an ambush for their own lives. Such are the ways of all who get gain by violence; it takes away the life of its possessors (Proverbs 1:18, 19; RSV).

By his own iniquities the wicked man will be caught, in the meshes of his own sin he will be held fast (Proverbs 5:22; NAB).

…the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them (Proverbs 11:3; KJV).

…the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness (Proverbs 11:5; KJV).

…the faithless shall be trapped in their own crafty device (Proverbs 11:6; JPS).

…he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh (Proverbs 11:17; KJV).

He who pursues evil brings about his own death (Proverbs 11:19; MLB).

…if a man pursues evil it turns upon him (Proverbs 11:27; NEB).

The wicked is snared by the transgression of his lips… (Proverbs 12:13; KJV).

…the way of the wicked leads them astray (Proverbs 12:26; NAB).

…sin overthrows the wicked (Proverbs 13:6; RSV).

The perverse man will get filled up on his own ways… (Proverbsl4:14; MLB).

The wicked is overthrown through his evil-doing… (Proverbs 14:32; RSV).

The violence of the wicked shall sweep them away, because they refuse to do justice (Proverbs 21:7; ASV).

He that soweth iniquity shall reap calamity; and the rod of his wrath shall fail (Proverbs 22:8; ASV).

He who misleads the upright into an evil way will fall into his own pit (Proverbs 28:10; RSV).

In the transgression of an evil man there is a snare… (Proverbs 29:6; KJV).

Like the Nazis of Germany, the glory of the wicked soon perishes and fades into a contemptuous memory. But the wicked shall be cut off from the land, and the treacherous shall be rooted out of it (Proverbs 2:22; ASV).

…the name of the wicked shall rot (Proverbs 10:7; KJV).

…the years of the wicked will be shortened (Proverbs 10:27; KJV).

…destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity (Proverbs 10:29; KJV).

…the wicked shall not inhabit the earth (Proverbs 10:30; KJV).

The wicked are overthrown, and are not… (Proverbs 12:7; KJV).

…the lamp of the wicked shall be put out (Proverbs 13:9; KJV).

The house of the wicked shall be overthrown… (Proverbs 14:11; KJV).

Those who do survive lose their freedom; and whatever goods they may have accumulated are given to the righteous. …the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just (Proverbs 13:22; KJV).

The evil bow before the good; and the wicked at the gates of the righteous (Proverbs 14:19; KJV).

…the wicked go hungry (Proverbs 14:25; NEB).

The righteous observes the house of the wicked; the wicked are cast down to ruin (Proverbs 21:12; RSV).

The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous, and the transgressor for the upright (Proverbs 21:18; KJV).

But remember, in this vain world there are exceptions to everything; and sometimes a wicked man may live long, and prosper. In my vain life I have seen everything; there is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his evil-doings (Ecclesiastes 7:15; RSV).

Here also is a futility that goes on upon the earth: there are righteous men who fare as though they were wicked, and wicked men who fare as though they were righteous. I said that this also is vanity (Ecclesiastes 8:14; AMP).

Yet Solomon said the days of the wicked are numbered: Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him: but it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God (Ecclesiastes 8:12, 13; KJV). Even though crooked men may escape their punishment here on earth, hell awaits them in the next life. Jesus uttered this curse upon these kinds of men: Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of extortion and rapacity. You blind Pharisee! first cleanse the inside of the cup and of the plate, that the outside also may be clean. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, saying, "If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets." Thus you witness against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? (Matthew 23:23-33; RSV). Many people have been deceived into thinking that since the coming of Christ, the Lord is more tolerant and forgiving toward sin. Such is not the case. Jesus often told of the greater strictness demanded of the Christian life. For example, He said: You have heard that it was said to the men of old, "You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment." But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the counsel, and whoever says, "You fool!" shall be liable to the hell of fire (Matthew 5:21, 22; RSV).

You have heard that it was said, "You shall not commit adultery." But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:27-28; RSV).

The letter to the Hebrews was written to contrast the old (Mosaic) and the new (Christian) covenants. Its author warned of the fate of those who reject Jesus. For if the message declared by angels was valid and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard him, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his own will (Hebrews 2:2-4; RSV).

For if we sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire which will consume the adversaries. A man who has violated the law of Moses dies without mercy at the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by the man who has spurned the Son of God, and profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay," and again, "The Lord will judge his people." It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:26-31; RSV).

See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him [Moses] who warned them on earth, much less shall we escape if we reject him [Jesus] who warns from heaven (Hebrews 12:25; RSV).

In sum: There are many terrible penalties in store for the wicked because the curse of God is upon them. When their end comes it will be sudden and swift. Ironically, their own behavior ultimately brings this about.

Copyright 1997 by Walter L. Porter may be reproducted for non-commercial purposes at no cost to others.

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