When witnessing to people questions arise, such as why did God make evil or why does God allow bad things to happen? I know God made everything. I want to be able to answer the way God wants me to answer when these kinds of questions come up in conversation. How do you answer when people ask why did God make evil for the day of evil?
Proverbs 16:4 (NASB)
The LORD has made everything for its own purpose,
Even the wicked for the day of evil.
Believe it or not, scriptures like these are the subject of much debate. Some people use these type of scriptures to back up the idea of predestination. Atheists try to use them in their arguments as well. What it amounts really is just a misunderstanding of scripture.
The first thing we have to realize, is that all the scripture that we have today, all the Bibles that we have, are either translations from other languages, or they are interpretations of translations of other languages. That shouldn’t scare us, but it should give us the knowledge that there is potential to miss some things. Now before anybody throws stones at me, let me say this that the simple message of the Bible is very easy. It is very translatable. However, sometimes things can be missed a little bit in translation, and we need study and get greater understanding.
There are some key rules to accurate Bible interpretation. Some of these rules I know, and some of them I don’t. The reason is, though I study I’m not a scholar. True scholars study the texts in part in their original languages and I simply don’t know Greek and Hebrew. It’s not enough just to have a concordance and say this word can mean this and that. Context matters, grammar matters, and also word usage matters. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this, but just so that we all understand there is a lot that goes into interpreting scripture.
We rely heavily on scholarship to understand the scripture that we have. As someone who does study, there are times that I read commentaries, there are times I read books about subjects, there are times I listen to sermons, and of course, I spend time in the Word itself. I think that one of the greatest rules of interpretation is to understand the character of God. It doesn’t take long, reading the word to see his character, especially in the Gospels and the New Testament epistles. God is our Father, He is the greatest example of a father, and He is love. Knowing these things, when we come at scripture, especially ones like the above mentioned one, we have to see that something seems weird. How could a loving God create evil?
While the answer should be self evident, it’s not always. Let’s look at this a few ways. Firstly, God created everything and every human was created with free will. Though we were not created evil, we were created with the potential to be evil, and that because of free will. God wanted free will creatures like Him that would choose to love Him, and would choose to do right. He could have made robots but then we wouldn’t have been created in love, because love always has choice. Could you ever imagine saying to someone, you have to marry who I tell you to because I tell you to? We all know that it is only right when it’s a choice. If one can choose good, then by default they can also choose bad. So in this sense, when God created free will man, He created the potential for evil.
Now, when we look at Proverbs 16:4 and it says that God has made everything for its purpose, we need to understand the phrasing here. The word made is also the word commit. You could say if this way, God commits everything to what it purposes. If something is going to be wicked, then it will have destruction in the end. This scripture was never implying that God created evil so that it could be evil. That would be completely against the character of God, and one of the number one ways that we can know that it wouldn’t be the correct interpretation of this scripture. In fact, we can understand this more by reading the scripture before and the scripture after it. They both point to the fact that we have choice in either doing good or doing bad. Therefore, if we have a choice in the matter that cannot mean that God created anyone specifically evil. It would nullify the rest of our knowledge of scripture.
In closing, whenever I come across scripture, that doesn’t make sense I always remember this, the reason has to be in the way that I understand it. I always take rest in the fact that if I don’t currently understand something, I have the possibility of finding out. One of God’s greatest desires for us is that we have a relationship with Him. We do this with His word, and with His Spirit, and if we will be faithful, His character will be so ingrained in us that we don’t even have to ask certain questions. 1 John 2:27 (NASB) says, “As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.” What an awesome God we serve that He doesn’t just want us to know about Him, but to know Him personally!