I mean, it’s not even close.
The Bible doesn’t present good as having an equal in evil, like they are two sides to the same coin. Evil is weaker, and though it causes it’s fair share of trouble, it is destined to lose.
There are countless Bible passages we could use to prove this, but one story illustrates it particularly well. It begins just a couple of years after the very first Christmas. Jesus, Lord and Saviour of all the world, is but a wee toddler living in Bethlehem.
This festive scene is the setting for a showdown. Who will win? Herod, a mighty and malicious king, or a small child who is just mastering the ability to put words into phrases.
It is a showdown between good and evil.
It begins with an angelic intervention. A heavenly messenger turns up, telling Joseph to ‘Rise, take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt . . .Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.’ (Matt 2:13, ESV). King Herod, a paranoid man at the best of times, has found out that Jesus has been born. Seeing him as a threat, he decides to hunt the boy down and kill him.
In desperation, Herod kills ‘all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years or under.’ (Matt 2:16). This wasn’t out of character for this monster of a man. He was known to have killed his own wife, his mother-in-law, and three of his sons. He killed anyone and everyone who could possibly be a rival to his throne. Here, he uses his power to come down hard on a small child who he sees as a threat.
Joseph, Mary, and Jesus, are already out of there. They wait in Egypt until another angel informs them that Herod is dead. Fearing his equally brutal son, the small family settles in Nazareth, where they can live in peace.
This isn’t a happy story, but it does teach us a lesson. Evil, armed with the power and might of royalty, could not prevail against a young couple and a toddler.
Good had proved to be more powerful than evil. To be more precise, God had proved to be more powerful than evil.
The way the Bible tells it, it’s not even close. When Jesus has to go to Egypt, the Bible says this:
This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: ‘I called my Son out of Egypt.’ (Matt 2:15, NLT)
Then, when Herod killed the young children of Bethlehem, it says:
Herod’s brutal action fulfilled what God has spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: ‘A cry was heard in Ramah – weeping and great mourning. Rachel weeps for her children. . . (Matt 2:17-18, NLT)
Finally, when the family journey to Nazareth, it tells us that,
This fulfilled what the prophets had said: ‘He will be called a Nazarene.’ (Matt 2:23, NLT)
This whole story, with its various ups and downs, was a fulfillment of predictions that had been made by prophets in the centuries before. Not only did Herod fail, but his failures, and Jesus’ successes, happened exactly how God had told his people they would.
In this passage, you have a vicious overwhelming force in opposition to Jesus. You have a young couple fleeing for their lives to a foreign land. You have a horrendous atrocity perpetrated by a cruel man. Yet, you also have the slow, steady, march of victory as God’s plan works out in precisely the manner that he promised.
Jesus’ mission, to come down and rescue this broken world, is working.
2020 is a bit of a mess. Within a few days of it kicking off, Australia was on fire. It just went downhill from there. Along with climate change, instability in global politics, and various issues relating to Brexit, we have been treated to a unique blend of coronavirus, economic depression, racism, and Eurovision being cancelled.
You can’t even smile at your neighbour in the street, since they can’t see your face under the mask. If you try, it just seems like you are staring blankly at them.
In this darkness, evil seems so powerful.
It will not win.
In Matthew 2, we meet Jesus on an unstoppable march towards victory. That march continues today, it continues tomorrow, and one day it will finally destroy all pain and suffering.
In this world we will suffer. From time to time, evil will seem like it has the upper hand. Let me assure you, it doesn’t.
For an informal bibliography, see page 2.