What does Isaiah 45:7 mean?
Isaiah 45:7 (KJV)
I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
This is not an uncommon question, and when I read it I had a bit of chuckle. Not because of the one asking but because of the question itself and also not because it’s a bad question. This is truly one of those scriptures that when read casually, tends to stump believers. Ecclesiastes 1:9 (NASB) proves itself valuable yet again! “That which has been is that which will be, and that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun.” So then, does God create evil?
I’m not sure if you noticed, but the version of scripture I used here was from the King James Version of the Bible. I will stress here again it is not wrong to use this translation, however one must understand that it can be confusing because it is written in an archaic language. The reason I picked to use this version is because this is often the one that causes the question. Even if it is not the reason in this case, by the time we are done, the reader should have a pretty good take on what is meant here.
Let’s look at this scripture in a more modern translation. Isaiah 45:7 in the New American Standard Bible says, “The One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these.” You can see already that this sounds different but it’s still not totally clear on the surface in what it means. I’m going to suggest that we do something here that I usually do, let’s put this verse in context. If you look back to verse 1 , you see God is instructing a man named Cyrus. Cyrus was a king whom God was raising up to fight Israel’s enemies. The word the KJV calls evil is better today translated calamity and is not talking about moral evil such as sin. The word evil in old times didn’t just mean sin, but could also refer to something undesirable that would come upon someone.
Here specifically God is talking about creating calamity for Israel’s, and thus His enemies. Some people like to use this scripture (I’m not implying the one who asked the question) to point to the idea that bad things happen even to good people because God causes them. This line of reasoning simply doesn’t hold up to sound biblical doctrine. Only misunderstanding or taking scripture out of context can you come to this conclusion. 2 Thessalonians 1:6 (NASB) gives us some good truth, “For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you.” This is our God, who brings trouble on those who cause His people trouble.
To further drive this point home, look at James 1:13-14 (NASB). “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.” We know scripturally God brings good. James further tells us in verses 1:16-17 (NASB), “Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” But the question arises, does God then allow temptation on His people?
We must understand that God created a world that continues by certain processes. One of the greatest of these is that of human free will. In order for God to allow free will He has to allow for that free will to choose moral failure. As we all should know, moral failure rarely affects only the one who failed but usually those around them. God does allow for this for a time in order to bring about greater good. His way will always bring about the best possible outcome in an impossibly evil world. Thus we can understand why people suffer. What God has done is not promised people wouldn’t suffer, He promised He would make it right if you put your trust in Him. The only way He could completely eliminate suffering in this type of world system is to simply destroy it. This however would result in billions of people going to hell that otherwise, given enough time, would make it to Heaven.
God is not a gambler. He knows a million ways to the best affect an outcome. He would win the lottery every single time! God’s plan is based on His foreknowledge of what He already knows will happen. This does not mean that He makes things happen a certain way, but He has provided the multiple paths to ensure the best things will. If we would just realize this in the midst of the next trial we face, we would face it with real faith!
You can rest assured God is on your side no matter what is happening in your life. Trouble may not come upon the one that troubles you the day they do, but God will make sure you are vindicated. God tells us to forgive and be patient. I have had people trouble me excessively and wondered where God was the whole time, only to find out that they later got saved and now serve God! I am so glad He didn’t just wipe them out! God knows I did some awful things before I served Him. I’m thankful if I hurt any of God’s people (which I’m sure I did) He found a way to me instead of just destroying me. Where would we be if God wasn’t merciful?
I encourage you, when troubled not to seek the destruction of people, seek His help and restoration. This is why Jesus instructed us to pray for our enemies. It takes a bigger person to not just take what’s due them. This kind of faith truly pleases the Lord and He will bless you for it!
Matthew 5:44-45 (NASB)
But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.