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Did God create evil?

Question: Does Isaiah 45:7 suggest that God created evil?

Isaiah 45: 7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

By Andrew Gabriel Roth

The answer is yes, technically speaking. However, the way the question is asked in this western paradigm is woefully inadequate. We would tend to think of "creating evil" and "doing evil" as being either the same thing or related to one another. The fact is, from an Eastern view, this is totally wrong. Wording the question in the way most people put it - "Did God create evil" or "God created evil" shows lack of Semitic literacy or if they can read, they are not doing so with deep metaphoric understanding. We cannot impose our modern sensibilities on ancient Eastern texts. We will fail every time if we do. People can barely understand Shakespeare in English from only 400 years out - how will they understand languages 5,000 years old not birthed in their language group at all?

So, what is the real answer then? The real answer is: There is no other "Creator" other than YHWH. Therefore, everything that did, could, does or will exist, all potentialities, dimensions and "quantum outcomes" are from His hand. From that view, yes, without YHWH creating the universe or multi-verse, there is no evil. Then again, there is no good either. It is simply void.

When people read this passage of Isaiah they miss a very critical detail. That first line says, "I form the light AND CREATE THE DARKNESS."

In other words, darkness is not just the absence of light on a blank canvas. Darkness is itself created by YHWH, from the spiritual dimensions into the physical. That means there is a creation before the creation, which is why the Targum Onkelos reads "be kadmin" in Genesis 1:1 rather than "in the beginning". "Be kadmin" means "in the antiquities/eternities/ancient periods." There must be darkness for light to be possible - think about it.

In order for any glory to be given to YHWH (Yahweh) by humanity, there must be a choice to follow. We are not made to be robots without independent will. We are in our way all little creators in His image, to give glory to Him who is our Great Creator.

As there is no light without darkness, there is no highlighting of righteousness without the risk of failure. That is the whole point of Job, which not surprisingly has a greater level of detail on the creation of the universe than Genesis does. Torah must, as Romans 7 says, show the boundaries of life and death, good and evil. Therefore evil must be choice (or in the Jewish view, a failure of proper moral resolve, lack of study and follow through, etc.) or the right path cannot be clearly seen as an alternative.

From there, what remains is the question of why this is? I mean, couldn't YHWH change the rules of His creation and just eliminate evil? Uh, yeah, but the fact is He didn't. We cannot become Him and we cannot fathom His choices. That is why Job once again is shown some of these creative glories and the message he gets is, "where were you when I made the world?" In other words, if you don't have My perspective, you are in no position to even ask the right question, let alone get the answer. Job repents and says, "I now shut my mouth...". Good call, Job! YHWH says His thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways are higher than our ways, and so it is true.

Therefore, this type of questioning is invalid. It is akin to when Augustine was asked, "what was YHWH doing before He made the world?" He answered, "He was creating hell for people who ask questions like this." Augustine's rebuke is very understandable because he knew the questioner scoffed YHWH and wasn't in genuine inquiry. Augustine, though, had the same answer I do elsewhere in his writings, which was, "there was no time and no space before the beginning," and so physics agrees. The deeper answer is, YHWH was thinking about creation before He did it. (Obviously Augustine had his problems, like virulent anti-semitism, but that's another story. As he said, "give me chastity but not yet" - he should have asked for total discernment.)

In later times people asked "Can YHWH create a rock too heavy for Him to lift?" It's the same impulse to judge Him masquerading as a pursuit of logic. Let's just say YHWH does not create anything without purpose, and there would be no purpose to anything that detracts from His glory. So that answer is YES he could create it, but NO, He never would create such a rock. YHWH says He will not give His glory to another, and that means He cannot and will not concede power. That's why Satan fell in the first place.

So whenever someone poses this question or comment about God's "creating evil," we must ask a counter question: "Do you know of another creator who gave birth to any potentiality in the human condition other than YHWH?" There is no other creative source, so all that is or could be came from Him. But it is WE who choose what we do with OUR chance to do good, and when we fail, that is OUR fault, not His. Satan is the Accuser - not the Author.

These are not mysteries, as others might suppose. The Word tells us these things very plainly. The problem, as Shakespeare said, is not in our stars but in ourselves.

We must also remember that, since the very beginning, YHWH has always given us the choice to believe in, and to follow Him - or not. He even gave His angels that choice, as we see with the story of Lucifer, who was the most beautiful angel in heaven...who became arrogant enough to want to usurp YHWH's power and was ultimately kicked out of heaven along with his followers. Lucifer, as you know, became Satan - the one who now roams the earth to deceive as many as he can before Judgment Day. (See Isaiah 14:3-20, 2 Peter 1:19 and Revelation 12 and 20).