The celebration of Simchat Torah this year in Jerusalem 5779 began 30th September and finished on 1st October. שמחת תורה Simchat Torah (Literally Rejoicing of Torah) marks the end of the annual cycle of weekly readings of the Bible called the Parashat HaShavuah (Portion of the Week). On that Shabbat we end with the last chapters of Deuteronomy with the death of Moses, but not before he unexpectedly breaks out into song on his deathbed, and began immediately again with the Creation narrative in Genesis.
God creates Good and Evil
The concept of a cyclical reading of Bible is an inherited practice from the Jewish People into the Church and is commonly called a Lectionary. The Lectionary readings in mainstream Churches are a 3-year cycle of reading the Bible. At the time of Yeshua in the late 2nd Temple period, the Jewish People held to a tri-annual cycle of reading the Bible. It was in Babylon that the Jewish people switched to an annual cycle of readings and today the Jewish community worldwide follows the Babylonian tradition and reads the Bible in one-year cycles.
Thus every year at this time we read of the Creation of all things. And despite any personal views of science and the ‘Origin of the Species’ that we might have, the Genesis account reveals that we are indeed unique, planned by an Intelligent Designer and special. Not the random product of chemical soup. Genesis notes that when God makes a beginning He creates couplings. He makes Heaven and Earth, Light and Darkness, Adam and Eve, Good and Evil. Each of these couplings is in a relationship with each other. Heaven is connected to Earth; God continually leaves Heaven to come to Adam in the Garden. Light follows Darkness and vice versa. Adam is in relationship with his helpmate Eve and vice versa, and somehow so too Good and Evil are in relationship. It’s not easy to wrap your head around the words of Isaiah 45 when God says He created Good (literally Peace) and Evil.
Who gets to choose?
During the Creation Week God creates things and at the conclusion of a Day declares it to be Good. When God makes something and calls it Good, He must know by definition what is not Good. The term Good in of itself has no meaning unless it can be compared to something that is not Good. Thus by creating Good He also sets the stage for the existence of Not Good. In the Garden was a tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Good exists and so does Not Good, henceforth known as Evil. And somehow they are in relationship.
The opposite to Creation is of course Evolution. Evolution, in an atheistic worldview, is in and of itself morally neutral. That is, in the absence of absolute truth which we inherit when we acknowledge God, there can be no real such thing as Good or Evil. What is right and feels good for one person will assuredly be different to the next person. Who gets to choose what is really good and what is really evil? Morality becomes subjective and ethics become an illusion. Good and Evil then become completely subjective at the individual level. When tragedies strike, Evolution cannot inform us that something is detrimental or ‘bad’. Death itself can neither be untimely, tragic or Evil. Death is simply the end of Life. Ask this question, how can the atheist know that Evil is indeed Evil? If one is being honest then he cannot. The issue is that true objective moral values really do exist and deep down we all know it. People know what Evil is when they see it. Unfortunately, we see it all the time. How do they know this?
Good and evil in relationship
Where does that knowledge come from? Paradoxically then, the existence of Evil actually serves to argue for the existence of God and not against it. Consequently, because of God, we also know what is indeed Good. Subsequently Good informs us of what is Evil or Not Good.
Good and Evil are then in a relationship, bonded together at Creation. Starting the annual journey through the Bible we immediately see that God infuses His Creation with Good. The prophet Isaiah notes correctly that by very definition with Good comes Evil, and that Evil also is in the hands of God. However, the prophet also declared that God makes Peace. He does not leave His Creation alone to suffer under Evil, He intervenes, He comes to share in its suffering and restore Good and hope. Overcoming all the Evil in this world through the Messiah, the Prince of Peace. And that is Good News.
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