A recent inquiry regarding a specific passage found in the Book of Isaiah that appears to be a declaration by God that He ‘creates’ calamity and evil has resulted in the posting of this Article. As always, seek the guidance and anointing of the Holy Spirit as you ponder these things.
“I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things” – Isa. 45:7.
Immediately, it must be understood that whenever seeking a proper interpretation of Scripture, several ‘rules’ of exegesis must be followed. Obviously, few students of formal theology exist, just as there are few doctors, lawyers, or plumbers, relatively speaking. Individual occupations or vocations are many and the choice of endeavor is determined solely by an individual’s free-will. To become an ‘expert’ in any chosen field, years of disciplined study and research associated with similar ‘experts’ in the SAME profession or ‘calling’ is necessary. As with most everything in life, the more time and effort invested in any pursuit – the better the understanding.
Therefore, the aforementioned ‘rules’ are NOT widely known nor commonly exercised by many who seek clarification or guidance in certain specific areas, especially when it comes to interpretation of scripture. While even doctors of theology do not have a unanimous consensus on the ‘best’ rules, several methods are accepted and deemed most appropriate.
It is NOT the intention of this Article to proclaim a preferred method or hope to put an end to debate. Merely presenting these facts though, will provide even the novice an opportunity to realize that such variables exist so as to understand. Often when Scripture is not blatantly clear, the reader must accept that God chooses at times NOT to reveal many things, or that a deeper, prayerful consideration of a particular subject or topic is warranted.
In light of those facts, please consider this. One ‘rule’ of interpretation includes the necessity of reading pertinent verses in their original context. This means discovering who the original audience was, in order to properly evaluate what was the intended message to THEM. Evaluation of their history and culture should provide insight into the intended application or meaning of the verse – to THEM.
This is of utmost importance, because the initial reason for a message forms the proper foundation of all subsequent interpretations of it. Often, to accomplish this, many surrounding verses or whole chapters must be scrutinized to glean the whole truth.
To the point of the specific passage mentioned, Isaiah was God’s prophet SOLELY to Judah during their Babylonian captivity in 712 BC. He is proclaiming God’s choice of a specific man who would become king (Cyrus), and he would be used by God to set THEM free. The original deliverance of this passage was in prophetic form, as the appointment of Cyrus was at THAT time 150 years into THEIR future (562 BC).
While it has been declared about Cyrus by many modern teachers that he is a ‘type’ of Messiah, a foreshadow of the coming Christ, THAT profession is a double-edged ‘sword’. On the one hand, it does fit with the general theme of prophecy utilizing ‘typology’ where the entire Old Testament is a shadow of things to come. Conversely, Cyrus was a real man who actually did fulfill the things Isaiah prophesied about him. Since this was completely fulfilled in his actual lifetime, theories and stipulations that there remains an unfulfilled portion of Isaiah’s proclamation pertaining to him must be understood as interesting to ponder, but avoided as elements of sound doctrine.
The more obvious point of the whole two chapters (Isaiah 44 & 45) is that God ALONE knows and controls the future. Lifeless idols cannot prophesy, acknowledge worship, nor respond to the cries of the Jews. THAT was the original intent – to reiterate the eternal control God has over all things. Now 2500+ years later, many who attempt to attach possible modern fulfillment of the prophesy are speculating or theorizing, at best.
Problems with seeming contradictions (such as: does God actually ‘create’ evil?) occur frequently when the specific verse is taken out of context. Properly read within its original setting, it is merely a poetic expression to elaborate on the Omnipotence (all-powerful nature) of God – as in, is there any limit to God’s power?
On the ‘other side’ of the SAME ‘coin’ is the New Testament declaration of Paul based on the absolute control God has over anything that might pose a threat to preserving our right relationship with Him.
“I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor ANY other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” – Ro. 8:38,39.
The remainder of the chapters sited in Isaiah deal with prophetic language purposely declared to give the Jews hope that their captivity was coming to an end. Warnings of God’s wrath being poured out against their captors is one explanation about God ‘creating’ darkness and evil – but only AGAINST those who oppose Him, NOT in the sense of the general perpetual influence of evil throughout the world.
For MORE about the existence of evil and its origin, please read one of my other Articles on the subject: Explaining the Existence of Evil.