Isaiah 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create EVIL: I the Lord do all these things (KJV)
Isaiah 45:7 I form the light and create darkness,
I make peace and create CALAMITY; I, the Lord, do all these things.’ (NKJV)
God was causing physical CALAMITY on Israel due to their disobedience. God cannot even tempt anyone much less causing people to SIN, and the “evil” he caused was in the form of calamity due to people who rebelled against him contrary to his will. We can read throughout the Bible that God HATES SIN, and that he PUNISHES sinner. Clearly then God is NOT causing people to commit evil acts, because he would never ordain people to do something that he hates – which is SIN.
The word “evil” is a translation from the Hebrew word ra (Strong’s 7451) and is in KJV translated as: evil, wickedness, wicked, mischief, hurt, bad, trouble, sore, affliction, ill, adversity, favoured, harm, naught, noisome, grievous, sad, etc.
James 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
1 John 1:5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
Habakkuk 1:13 Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?
Isaiah 5:20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
Psalm 5:5 The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.
Hebrews 1:9 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
If a righteous life glorifies God (1 Cor. 6:20), how could evil acts also glorify God? The calvinist John Piper suggests that God forordains evil because it can “make the glory of Christ shine more brightly”, but that does not make any sense at all. The truth is that goodness and righteousness glorifies God (Micah 6:8, Rom. 2:7, 10), and evil/sin dishonors God (John 8:49, Rom. 2:8-9, 23). If anyone claims that he commits an evil act for the glory of God, then we know that person is not speaking Biblical truths.
God talks about bringing “evil” (as in calamity) to a city to punish their sins (Neh. 13:18; Jer. 21:10; 25:29; Amos 3:6). Evil i not contrasted with righteousness but with peace. Let’s check a couple of verses which talk about God causing EVIL (when a more appropriate word could have been “calamity”).
Amos 3:2 You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.—6 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? 7 Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.—10 For they know not to do right, saith the Lord, who store up violence and robbery in their palaces.11 Therefore thus saith the Lord God; An adversary there shall be even round about the land; and he shall bring down thy strength from thee, and thy palaces shall be spoiled.
If God is the one ordaining sin/evil, why is there a need to punish people for doing the iniquities that God has caused/ordained/predestined/forced them to do? A just God would never punish anyone for doing his will (or for doing what he caused them to do). That people know not to do right means that they have no intention or willingness to do what is right. This often happens when people have been so accustomed to do evil and hardened their heart to such an extent that they no longer know to do right. God has the right to enforce physical judgments and punishments, and he often does this with the hope of seeing people converted.
12 Thus saith the Lord; As the shepherd taketh out of the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear; so shall the children of Israel be taken out that dwell in Samaria in the corner of a bed, and in Damascus in a couch.14 That in the day that I shall visit the transgressions of Israel upon him I will also visit the altars of Bethel: and the horns of the altar shall be cut off, and fall to the ground.15 And I will smite the winter house with the summer house; and the houses of ivory shall perish, and the great houses shall have an end, saith the Lord.
More examples of horrible calamity that awaits those who sins against God. God will visit Israel due to its transgressions, he will smite and he will make their important possessions perish. A better choice would of course had been to be obedient to God in order to prevent all the calamity from happening.
The context of Isaiah 45
Isaiah 45:1 Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to CYRUS, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut;—3 And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the Lord, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.
God is addressing Cyrus about what is about to happen in the near future involving himself. Cyrus will be able to achieve much, but not necessarily because he is such a great guy but because God might want to use Cyrus’ plans to punish Israel, maybe with the hope that his people will repent. With other words, God can make use man’s evil plans (or neutral plans) and make them very prosperous by preventing others from interfering with them. This doesn’t mean it’s God’s idea to make people start unholy wars and harm others, but it’s rather his idea to make use of such plans for something good in SOME occasions. God very rarely act in this way but there are a few occasions in the Bible where we can see this happening, and the death of Jesus Christ is of course a famous example of this which you can read about here. (Judas certainly wasn’t forced to betray Jesus in any way.)
4 For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.
Jacob was chosen to be the seed which would bring forth God’s own people, and therefore elect in that respect. The fact that Israel was “elect” doesn’t mean that all Israel will be saved. Israel was singled out for a reason, and the idea was that this nation would bring light to the rest of the world.
8 Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the Lord have created it.
Here is a focus on that God created the heavens and the earth, and the hope is that God’s creation and righteousness would be obvious for all to see and to bring forth salvation.
9 Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands?
According to this verse there is a risk that people will strive with God, since we can read a severe warning about it. That people strive with God, argue with him and rebel against him shouldn’t really surprise us because the Bible is full of examples to this effect, and of course the same thing can be seen today. Christians certainly don’t act properly all the time and some even blame God for their misfortunes. This verse doesn’t say that the clay CANNOT answer back and strive with the potter, but that he SHOULD not. Each time a person sins, it’s always against the will of God.
10 Woe unto him that saith unto his father, What begettest thou? or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth?
Here is another warning needed to be disclosed, due to the risk for that people might act in the opposite way.
12 I have made the earth, and created MAN upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.13 I have raised HIM up in RIGHTEOUSNESS, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives, not for price nor reward, saith the Lord of hosts.
Here God is pointing out that he is the Creator of all things, and he is speaking about MAN and that he has raised him up in RIGHTEOUSNESS. Despite that man is brought up in righteousness, he hasn’t always remained on that road but walked his own ways. We have all been given the light, but we must make sure to keep walking in the light,. God will apparently also direct all his ways but this doesn’t mean man will always be cooperative.
16 They shall be ashamed, and also confounded, all of them: they shall go to confusion together that are makers of idols.
If people are making idols they are naturally being disobedient to God, and particularly his first commandment to have no other God beside HIM. If someone is told to be ashamed of himself for something he did, he has clearly acted against God’s will or else he shouldn’t be told to be ashamed of himself but rather be praised. If people are transgressing his laws, there will be confusion among them.
20 Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save.21 Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the Lord? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.
We can read that God is a JUST God (so clearly not a God who predestines people to sin and then turns around and punishes them for it), and a SAVIOR. He asks the Israelites to bring all those idol worshipers near and let them be counselled.
22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.
Here is a clear universal offer of salvation. All the ends of the earth can be saved, under the condition that they LOOK UNTO GOD. This sounds just like the ordeal with the fiery serpent in the desert which people were asked to look at it in order to be free from their snake wounds.
23 I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.24 Surely, shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed.
Apparently people can act against God since we can read that “all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed”. Surely this couldn’t be something that God predestined them to do. Why would he cause people to work against him?
God sometimes causes “evil” (or calamity) as a punishment on people who act against his will
Jeremiah 32:23 And they came in, and possessed it; but they obeyed not thy voice, neither walked in thy law; they have done nothing of all that thou commandedst them to do: THEREFORE thou hast caused all this evil to come upon them
1 Kings 9:9 And they shall answer, Because they forsook the LORD their God, who brought forth their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and have taken hold upon other gods, and have worshipped them, and served them: THEREFORE hath the LORD brought upon them all this evil.
1 Kings. 14:9 But hast done evil above all that were before thee: for thou hast gone and made thee other gods, and molten images, to provoke me to anger, and hast cast me behind thy back:10 THEREFORE, behold, I will bring evil upon the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel, and will take away the remnant of the house of Jeroboam, as a man taketh away dung, till it be all gone.
2 Kings. 21:11 Because Manasseh king of Judah hath done these abominations, and hath done wickedly above all that the Amorites did, which were before him, and hath made Judah also to sin with his idols:12 THEREFORE thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Behold, I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle.
2 Kings. 22:16 Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah hath read:17 Because they have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands; THEREFORE my wrath shall be kindled against this place, and shall not be quenched.
2 Chronicles 7:22 And it shall be answered, Because they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods, and worshipped them, and served them: THEREFORE hath he brought all this evil upon them.
Isaiah 47:10 For thou hast trusted in thy wickedness: thou hast said, None seeth me. Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee; and thou hast said in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me.11 THEREFORE shall evil come upon thee; thou shalt not know from whence it riseth: and mischief shall fall upon thee; thou shalt not be able to put it off: and desolation shall come upon thee suddenly, which thou shalt not know.
Jeremiah 11:8 Yet they obeyed not, nor inclined their ear, but walked every one in the imagination of their evil heart:THEREFORE I will bring upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do: but they did them not.—11 THEREFORE thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them
Joshua 23:15 THEREFORE it shall come to pass, that as all good things are come upon you, which the Lord your God promised you; so shall the Lord bring upon you all evil things, until he have destroyed you from off this good land which the Lord your God hath given you.16 When ye have transgressed the covenant of the Lord your God, which he commanded you, and have gone and served other gods, and bowed yourselves to them; then shall the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and ye shall perish quickly from off the good land which he hath given unto you.