Does God Create Evil?
by Peter Salemi
Many people believe that the evil in this world is created by God and that there is NO Satan the Devil! God declares, "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things." (Isaiah 45:7). Are all the evils in this world created by God himself? Doesn't God say he is good and full of judgment and justice? (see Deut 32:4; Matthew 5:48). Many other Scriptures inform us that God is not evil (1 John 1:5), and cannot even look approvingly on evil (Hab. 1:13), and cannot even be tempted by evil (James 1:13). It also says that it is impossible for God to sin (Heb 6:18). So what does it mean when God says he creates evil?
What is the "Evil" God is speaking of?
God says that "evil" will come upon peoples and nations due to their wickedness, "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." (Isa 47:11).
God continually told Israel, because of their wickedness he will send "evil" among them, "And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people:
"Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.
"And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people." (Exodus 32:9-10, 14).
Jeremiah 18:8 God declares, "If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them."
When Almighty God says he will bring "evil" upon a people, it is not a moral evil that God has created that we see in this world of, killings, murders, terrorism, abortion, homosexuality, human smuggling, bestiality, witchcraft, Satanism, and everything else that we see in this world, No! These are moral evils which man has done.
If one notices the scriptures above, it is called "evil" for a reason. God brings evils on a people-the evils that they have committed, when God judges, them. God says "...I will judge thee according to thy ways, and will recompense thee for all thine abominations...And mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: I will recompense thee according to thy ways and thine abominations that are in the midst of thee; and ye shall know that I am the LORD that smiteth." (Ezekiel 7:8, 9). Israel wants evil so God gives them the evil that they crave. There are consequences to sin, and the consequences lead to death, destruction, disease and sickness-and God gives Israel and the world what they want!
When God does "create" evil against nations he is devising a device of punishment framed after the evil ways of man, and uses it against him as an instrument of punishment.
Here is another scripture that shows exactly what kind of evil God creates, "Now therefore go to, speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you: return ye now every one from his evil way [moral evil], and make your ways and your doings good." (Jer 18:11). God uses their evil against them to make them realize that their ways only lead to death and destruction, and that God's ways are the ways of peace; in the end this is executed for Israel to realize their error of their ways and repent.
The Hebrew Word for "Evil"
However, the Hebrew word for evil (ra) (Strong's #7451) used here does not always mean moral evil. Indeed, the context indicates that it can also be translated, as the nkjv and other modern translations do, as “calamity.” Thus, God is properly said to be the author of “evil” in this sense, but not in the moral sense.
"forming light and creating darkness,
making peace and creating distress." (45:7 AT)
"I am fashioning calamity against you and devising a plan against you" (Jer 18:11 NASB)
When God says he will bring "evil" upon this people it means more of calamity and distress than God being a creator of moral evils that we see in this world today.
Barnes's Notes, "The parallelism here shows that this is not to be understood in the sense of all evil, but of that which is the opposite of peace and prosperity. That is, God directs judgments, disappointments, trials, and calamities; he has power to suffer the mad passions of people to rage, and to afflict nations with war; he presides over adverse as well as prosperous events. The passage does not prove that God is the author of moral evil, or sin..." (emphasis added).
This source states, "These lines employ language from Genesis 1 and 2 (forming, creating, making). In the second line the Lord lays claim to making peace as well as creating distress (ra‘). The Hebrew noun ra‘ has a range of meanings (cf. evil, KJV; disaster, NIV; woe, NRSV; calamity, JB). It is a mistake to elaborate a theology of God as the creator of evil from this text" (Ivan D. Friesen, Isaiah, Believers Church Bible Commentary (Scottdale, PA; Waterloo, ON: Herald Press, 2009), 277.)
Delitzsch points out that the early “Christian” heretic Marcion, and the heretical Valentinians and other Gnostic sects, abused this text to teach that the God of the OT was “a different being from the God of the New.” This seems to be the reason people abuse this scripture today, to get rid of the Old Testament altogether and just believe the new. Many believe that the God of the Old Testament is different from Jesus of the New, yet the New Testament informs us that Jesus is the Yahweh of the Old Testament. (John 1:1)
In both cases, in no way is God the author of the moral evils that we see today in this world! God only permits evil, but does not promote it, and He will ultimately produce a greater good through it when he judges people. (cf. Gen. 50:20; Rev. 21–22). But who is the author of Evil?
Satan the Devil Influences Mankind
Many people believe that since God "creates evil" as they see in Isaiah 45:7 that there is no Satan the Devil. How one can reach that conclusion is totally ignoring many passages in the Bible that shows that the Devil is a real being!
Although God permits people with free choice to do evil or good, there is a real being called Satan the Devil that influences mankind and tempts them to do all kinds of evil.
Satan the devil was there in the Garden of Eden and influenced our first parents and tempted them to sin. (see Gen 3).
Satan influenced David to number Israel (1 Chron 21:1).
Satan stood in front of God and said that he could get Job to curse him (Job 1&2). Satan himself says that he goes, "From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it." (Job 1:7)
Satan tempted Jesus Christ (Matthew 4).
Jesus himself says who is the author of Evil, "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it." (John 8:44). Jesus says that the Devil is the father of lies, father of all sin. As John says, "for the devil sinneth from the beginning." (1 John 3:8). He is the author of evil, and he is "that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world:" (Rev 12:9). Yes Satan is the great deceiver that influences man into doing all sorts of evils in this world.
Satan is also called the "god of this world" (2 Corinth 4:4). Yes Satan runs this world. Jesus also called him, "Prince [Grk. Ruler] of this world" (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11) He influences governments, education, militaries, economics etc...God is not running this world, and will not intervene till the time when it is necessary to do so to bring about his will.
Prince of the Power of the Air
By what means does Satan the devil influences mankind? Paul says that we must put on the "armour of God" (Eph 6:13). This is to "wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked [one - τοῦ πονηροῦ tou ponērou]." (v.16). Satan has "fiery darts." These are as Mr. Locke renders this, "'The fiery darts' that were used in war were small, slender pieces of cane, which were filled with combustible materials, and set on fire; or darts around which some combustible material was wound, and which were set on fire, and then shot 'slowly' against a foe. The object was to make the arrow fasten in the body, and increase the danger by the burning; or, more frequently, those darts were thrown against ships, forts, tents, etc., with an intention to set them on fire. They were in common use among the ancients. Arrian" (Exped. Alexan. 11, emphasis added).
Satan has, spiritually, "...the temptations of the great adversary, which are like fiery darts; or those furious suggestions of evil, and excitements to sin, which he may throw into the mind like fiery darts. They are - blasphemous thoughts, unbelief, sudden temptation to do wrong, or thoughts that wound and torment the soul. In regard to them, we may observe:
(1) That they come suddenly, like arrows sped from a bow;
(2) They come from unexpected quarters, like arrows shot suddenly from an enemy in ambush;
(3) They pierce, and penetrate, and torment the soul, as arrows would that are on fire;
(4) They set the soul on fire, and enkindle the worst passions, as fiery darts do a ship or camp against which they are sent." (Barnes Notes, emphasis added).
James when he speaks of sin says, "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed....Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." (James 1:14-15). Just like a fiery dart, it hits a man, fastens to him or her, and then burns till he or she is consumed in it. This can be done by a man being drawn away by his or hers own lust; his or hers old habits he or she is trying to break; or "enticed" by Satan the devil.
Satan the Devil is called the "Prince of the power of the Air" (Ephesians 2:2). This is a "the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:" This is his influence which works in this world. Satan broadcasts through the ether his ways, his evils, and reaches the minds of human beings. The mind is a broadcast centre that can send and receive wave lengths. It is through this that he influences the minds of human beings. It is this evil wave length that we must protect our minds with the Holy Spirit, the shield of faith which is given to us. Let God's spirit influence us and guides is in this life, and block the influence of Satan the devil.
So there is a real devil, and God is not the author of moral evil, but the Devil is, and God will eventually get rid of that influence once and for all (Rev 20:10).