Right now it looks like evil Is winning as psychopathic people in leadership positions are imposing an authoritarian rule that does not tolerate any other narrative or policy than their own. Jesus spilled the beans on that one long ago, of course, when he told his disciples in Mark 10:42, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them,” and in Matthew 20:25, “You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around (and) how quickly a little power goes to their heads” (The Message). It happened then, it happens now.
A child soon learns that in school too, as bullies addicted to domination and subjection roam the hallways. And how many of those bullies grow up to be like the apostle Paul in his early days as an up and coming Jewish leader, describing himself as a “blasphemer, a persecutor and a violent man” in 1 Timothy 1:13? Paul, or Saul as he was then, acted as if he was invincible, not only belittling Jesus in person, but also violently attempting to eradicate all pro-Jesus followers. Saul was a carbon copy of the rule book all tyrants live by, who are driven by and drunk on their power over others.
So why does God let such people exist and cause huge collateral damage among the innocent? And why did he let the devil inhabit a serpent as early as Genesis 3:1 too? Was it simply to make the existence of evil real?
This would seem to be the case because in the book of Job, which was written about half way through Genesis, the same point is made. God allowed the devil to cause havoc in Job’s family and livelihood, which understandably raises the question as to why God would allow such evil to happen to a man who was so good (Job 1:8).
It took 40 chapters to set the scene for the answer, but it came in Job 40:6-14, which in summary is saying, “Evil is real, Job, and only I (God) can deal with it.” And when Job understood that, that’s when the devil’s plan backfired – just as it did with Saul when God opened his eyes too (1 Timothy 1:13-14).
Evil did not win with either Job or Saul. Nor did it win in the New Testament in the killing of Stephen in Acts 7 or in the killing of thousands of Christians in arenas. Nor did it in having Peter and the apostles thrown in prison, because in every case Christianity not only survived, it grew.
Every trick the devil comes up with to wreck God’s plan, whether it’s in Old Testament Israel, the New Testament church or the world’s cultures, are all thwarted and they eventually backfire. Imagine the devil’s horror when he was gleefully celebrating Jesus’ death, only to see him resurrected back to life again three days later. Or having to watch the world empires he’s ruled through his demon cohorts all eventually implode and collapse too. Every great empire in history has disintegrated into nothing.
And here we are again, living in a time of more evil people in politics, social media, corporations and pharmaceutical companies throwing their weight around, gleefully drunk with their ability to deceive and control the gullible through lies, threats and propaganda. But already it’s beginning to backfire as people wake up and see what’s happening. And in time all these tyrants who thought they were invincible will be dead and gone too.
That’s not to say that evil isn’t powerful. It is, because even at the end of the Bible there are still people holding out against God. But notice how the gates to the new Jerusalem are wide open, and the call is constantly going out to the nations, “Come on in” (Revelation 22:17), because we have a Creator who doesn’t want to lose anyone to evil (Ephesians 1:9-10).
That’s why the gospel is such great news, because no matter what age we live in with its endemic evil, we know it’s all going to disintegrate eventually and be replaced with God’s kingdom. And meanwhile in our own personal trust in God to “lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one,” evil won’t win over us either.