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Isaiah 45.7 and Creating Evil?

What does Isaiah 45.7 mean when it says God creates evil? If God only does good, then why does Isaiah 45.7 say he creates evil?

Isaiah 45.7 says, "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things" (Isaiah 45.7 KJV bible). This verse appears to contradict what a lot of us believe. Isaiah 45.7 seems to be telling us that the Lord doesn't only make good, but also evil. Why does Isaiah 45.7 say that God creates evil, and is this what the bible teaches?

We often give God credit for the existence of righteousness and good in the world, but is he also responsible for evil? We know that God allows the existence of evil in the world, or it wouldn't exist. Does the bible teach that God creates the evil and sin we see in the worldl?

Some have used Isaiah 45.7 to claim that God plays a causative role in the existence of evil. They suggest that God intentionally creates evil to serve a greater purpose over time. In their view, God initiates evil or sin as part of his divine plan for the world.

Isaiah 45.7 has also been used by critics in their efforts to discredit the bible. They claim that some early parts of the bible teach that God made evil in the world. They believe that the the Devil and demons were created later as an explanation for evil in the world.

We need to look at the Hebrew word for evil.

Despite what it seems to be saying, Isaiah 45.7 offers no support for the idea that God creates moral evil. The problem is that the Hebrew word that's translated here as evil (Hebrew: ra), can have a variety of meanings in different contexts. People read it and assume it means moral evil and sin. Ra can mean this, but it can also mean tragedy, calamity, distress, trouble, and misfortune.

Notice how the word ra is used in Amos 3.6, which is a similar verse, "Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?" (Amos 3.6 KJV bible).

In Amos 3.6, ra is used to refer to troubles and distress within the city. So the Hebrew word ra (used in both Isaiah 45.7 and Amos 3.6), doesn't always refer to the moral evils of sin. In many places in the Old Testament it simply means calamity.

In this sense ra is different from our english word "evil". Our word evil usually describes moral wickedness. We usually reserve the word to describe sinfullness and perversity. Someone that's evil is sociopathic, harmful, deceptive, and sadistic. Our English word evil is more specific in its meaning than the Hebrew word ra.

The quick assumption of some readers is that the evil spoken of in Isaiah 45.7 is moral evil. They assume it means sin and wickedness. However, the full context of the passage doesn't support this conclusion. Rather its being used to describe natural evils and troubles.

Notice that the verse lays out a pattern of opposites, "I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil..." (Isaiah 45.7 KJV bible). The opposite of light is darkness, which is the absence of light. Likewise the opposite of peace is not moral evil, but war, trouble, and calamity.

Isaiah 45.7 uses ra in a context that's the opposite of peace and blessing. It's saying that God can create peace and blessing or calamity and trouble. Therefore, Isaiah 45.7 is not saying that God makes sin, but God does create the troubles that are a punishment for sin.

God will not only bless, but also raise up evil.

The bible is consistent that God rewards righteousness, but also pours out destruction. He has full authority to bless, but also to curse, "I will be unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah: I, even I, will tear and go away; I will carry off, and there shall be none to deliver. I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me earnestly" (Hosea 5.14-15 ASV bible).

Isaiah 45.7 and similar passages teach that God blesses righteousness and punishes corruption. God also chastens those he loves, "The instant I speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, or to break down, or to destroy; if that nation against whom I have spoken will turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do to it" (Jeremiah 18.7-8 LITV bible).

One of the key prophecies of Isaiah was the coming downfall and captivity of Israel. It was important for the nation to be warned about this downfall, and given a chance to repent. It was important for the people to know that God was angry with them because of sin.

This is the proper context for many verses in Isaiah. God sends destruction because of sin, "Behold, I have created the smith who blows the coal in the fire, and who brings out a weapon for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy" (Isaiah 54.16 LITV bible).

Passages such as Jeremiah 18, Hosea 5, Isaiah 45 and Isaiah 54 are just as true today as in the past. Some might think that God no longer punishes sin. Some believe that God exists to serve and indulge us. Some want a feel good message that ignores sin.

However, God is still the same, "And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil" (Zephaniah 1.12 KJV bible).

The book of Isaiah doesn't teach that God has created the moral evil we see in the world. Such claims about Isaiah 45.7 come from a poor understanding of the bible. When we correctly interpret the language and context of Isaiah 45.7, its message is consistent with the rest of the bible. God can give blessings, but also raise up destruction.

God allows evil, but doesn't create it.

The bible is clear that moral evil is an abomination to God, "There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood..." (Pro 6:16-17 ESV bible).

Evil plays a role in the plan of God, but he isn't the source of it, "Let no one being tempted say, I am tempted from God. For God is not tempted by evil, and He tempts no one. But each one is tempted by his own lusts, being drawn out and being seduced by them" (James 1:13-14 LITV bible).

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