21Wicked people are wrong when they say to themselves, “Our life is short and full of sorrow, and when its end comes, there is no escape. No one has ever been known to come back from the world of the dead. 2We were born by chance, and after life is over, we will be as if we had never been born at all. Our breath is no more than a puff of smoke; our mind is nothing more than a spark thrown off by the beating of our heart. 3When that spark dies, our body will crumble into ashes, and our breath will become part of the empty air. 4In time, no one will remember anything we ever did, and even our names will be forgotten. Our lives will pass away like traces of clouds and vanish like mist in the heat of the sun. 5Our time on earth is like a passing shadow. There is no escape from the day of our death; it is fixed, and no one can postpone it.”
The wicked say, “Come on, then, let's enjoy the good things of life, and live in this world just as we did when we were young and free of care! 7Let's drink the most expensive wines and use the finest perfumes. Let's not miss a single flower in the springtime! 8Before the roses wither, let's pick them and wear them in our hair! 9Let's all join in and leave signs everywhere of our carefree revelry! Life owes us that much!
10“We'll oppress the poor, even if they are righteous. We'll show no respect for widows or old people. 11We'll call ourselves right if we are strong enough to get what we want. No one ever got anywhere by being weak! 12Righteous people are nothing but a nuisance, so let's look for chances to get rid of them. They are against what we do; they accuse us of breaking the Law of Moses and violating the traditions of our ancestors. 13They claim to know God, and they call themselves the Lord's children. 14We can't stand the sight of people like that; what they are contradicts our whole way of thinking. 15They are not like other people; they have strange ways. 16They think that our moral standards are so corrupt that everything we do should be avoided. They boast of having God for their Father, and believe that only the righteous will die happy. 17But we'll see if that's true! Let's see what will happen when it's time for them to die! 18If the righteous really are God's children, God will save them from their enemies. 19So let's put them to the test. We'll be cruel to them, and torment them; then we'll find out how calm and reasonable they are! We'll find out just how much they can stand! 20We'll condemn them to a shameful death. After all, they say that God will protect them.”
21That is how evil people think, but they are wrong. They are blinded by their own wickedness. 22They have never known God's secrets, never hoped for the rewards of a holy and blameless life. 23
When God created us, he did not intend that we should die; he made us like himself. 24It was the Devil's jealousy that brought death into the world, and those who belong to the Devil are the ones who will die.