The Thermodynamics of History (revised)
And that means anything not in the equilibrium state will eventually cease to exist. At the end, there is no clear water. And, at the end, there is no evil. Evil must inherently destroy itself, or else there could be no guarantee of that Messianic equilibrium.
This guarantee is inherent in the definition of good and evil. In “Hashem and Morality“, I commented on the fact that the word “tov” (like the English word “good”) has two meanings: functional and moral. When we say “This is a good pen”, we are speaking functionally — the pen is very effective at doing what pens are supposed to do. Similarly, a “bad pen” is one that leaks, is dried out, or is otherwise not a good writing tool. In that essay, I suggested that one meaning derives from the other. Hashem defined moral good in terms of our function. “A good person” is not only a moral judgment, but also a functional one; someone who is doing “the good and the right” is performing his function in this world.
Therefore it’s not only that the system is designed to lead to a particular end-state which lacks evil, and therefore we know that the forces of history must prune it away. Rather, evil is — by definition — that which isn’t part of Hashem’s ideal state for man. We are warned not to do it, we are told it has the label “ra” (evil), because choosing it will be part of is that which is destined to be pruned away. The labeling of an act as “ra” or “cheit” (sin), is akin to hanging up a sign warning of a cliff; Hashem is warning us to avoid that which causes suffering. Because they run counter to both our design and our future end-state, one is joining that which will be destroyed — and therefore are ra, shattering, breaking, activities.
This is, perhaps, what Hashem means in Devarim (30:19), when He says, “… I set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse, so that you shall choose life…” The commandments and prohibitions are simply a list of what happens to cause blessing, because it fits the plan, as well as the reverse.
From this perspective (one which we will be”H discuss further in those future entries on this subject), not only isn’t punishment seen as meted out, it’s logically prior, not the consequence, of evil.