The Source of Evil

In the last message, we examined Creation from a point of view that you probably haven’t thought about. We saw how our Lord’s Creation was created much different from His own existence. Now here is a rule to follow: many will tell you that often science confirms the Scriptures. That is actually backwards. Scripture confirms science. So, when a discovery is made in the world of science, you need to turn to Scripture to confirm what you discovered! What I am saying is that, outside of our Universe, the laws of physics do not necessarily exist. Things operating in those other six or seven dimensions are not necessarily limited to the rules of opposites; and apparently, in Heaven, no opposites are required, although we do have to account for Satan and those fallen angels in some way.

Now, for a really big, and ugly, question: who or what causes evil to happen? Or, even better, who or what is the source of evil?

To find an answer, let‘s look at Isaiah 45:7.

“The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these.”

Ouch! That ought to mess with your theology! At least a little.

Well, to be honest, for some of us, that sounds Okay. It doesn’t bug us too much to think that the Lord who created light and darkness, could also cause well-being and create calamity. I mean, as much as we might wish Scripture did not say that God creates calamity (of which we might be the one who is affected) we accept the concept pretty easily. Oh, if were just that easy.

The New American Standard Bible, which I just used, is from a translation method that is called “dynamic translation.” Look now at that same verse in a more literal, direct, word-for-word, translation:

“I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil; I am the LORD, that doeth all these things”

Now this one does hurt our thinking. It says quite bluntly that the Lord creates Evil. Is that possible? Well, there are four Hebrew words in this verse: owr, choshek, shalom and rah. So, by mixing in the Hebrew with the English, the verse reads:

“I form the owr and create choshek; I made shalom and create rah.”

Now, owr and choshek, refer to two categories of spiritual nature: good and evil. Now, Shalom is a very interesting Hebrew word that I could take up many messages to explain; but just know that its very nature is describing a sense of well-being, peace, good, godliness and grace that comes from God — it is a divine, and therefore, a spiritual source that produces shalom.

The Hebrew word rah has a similar, but opposite sense. Rah means evil or bad. Do you remember what I mentioned in the last message? That in our Universe, everything has an opposite — and there are no exceptions. So, as this verse, and many others, tell us that if God formed light, then darkness is also created; if the Lord made shalom, then evil is also created. And, Elohim is behind it all, and controls it all, and uses it all!

See, it is only with our more modern translations that we even find the word evil oddly replaced with words like disaster and calamity and woe. The Hebrew word rah means evil. Now, calamity and disaster and woe is the result of evil — but rah directly refers to the spiritual sense of evil — and that is because rah is the opposite of shalom.

Now, don’t start thinking that this is some isolated verse; the phrase directly showing the Lord causing evil to exist and to happen is scattered throughout the Old Testament. And remember, to say that the Lord didn’t create evil, but thatHe allows it to happen, totally misses what the Scriptures tell us:

If a ram’s horn sounds an alarm in a city, won’t the people be alarmed? If there is a disaster in a city, hasn’t Yahweh done it?” —Amos 3:6

“Good and bad come from the mouth of the Most High God” —Lamentations 3:38

Now, don’t get your knickers in a knot! Jus understand that simply because Yahweh created good; and because it was created, evil came as its natural opposite. This is not accidental — The Creator ordered it all that way. Now, and here comes a key concept, Yahweh did not create evil in the sense of manufacturing evil. He did not turn to His right and create a pile of good, and then turn to His left and create a pile of evil. Evil came was a result of His creating good, and putting that spirit of good into our Universe (a Universe where everything must have an opposite).

An easier way to think about this is when we can envision that evil is everything that Yahweh does not command or instruct. It is the opposite of what is called good by Yahweh. Allow me to draw an admittedly imperfect (but I think reasonable) analogy for you.

The next time you go into a room and turn on a light, I want you to notice what happens. You walk in and flip a switch, electricity flows to a filament in a light bulb, it glows, and presto, you ADD light to the room. However, and this is my point when we turn the switch the other direction to OFF, the room goes dark. Now, did we ADD darkness to the room? Did the current in the light bulb reverse, and suck the light out of the room? Or, maybe the darkness was manufactured as the light was manufactured? No, darkness is simply the opposite of light. If there is no light present, then the result is darkness. Darkness is not something that is made, per se, it is simply the absence of light. In the same way, evil is simply the absence of good.

Look, I am not trying to get too philosophical and esoteric here. I am simply showing you how our Universe works, but most importantly, I want you to understand God’s Word, and the importance of studying it to show ourselves approved! But when we say that Yahweh is the creator of evil, many will call into question His holy character. And I have heard many different arguments used to indict God as the cause of evil. One argument says:

  1. God is the creator of everything that exists.
  2. Evil exists.
  3. Therefore, God is the creator of evil.

Well, that sounds rather reasonable. But this doesn’t demonstrate that Yahweh is the creator of evil. The problem is that it is saying that evil is something. Except that evil is not a thing; it is a lack or the opposite of a good thing that Yahweh made. As Christian philosopher, J.P. Moreland stated, “Evil is a lack of goodness. It is goodness spoiled. You can have good without evil, but you cannot have evil without good.”

Goodness has existed as an attribute of Yahweh from all eternity. While He is perfectly Holy and Just, He is also perfectly good. Just as Yahweh has always existed, so too has goodness because it is a facet of Yahweh’s Holy Character. But that is not true for evil. Evil came into being when Yahweh created the physical universe. As Christian apologist, Greg Koukl has said, “Human freedom was used in such a way as to diminish goodness in the world, and that diminution, that lack of goodness, that is what we call evil.”

While evil is certainly real, it is important to recognize that evil does not have existence in and of itself. Rather, it only exists as a privation (or a parasite) on the good. It exists in the same way that a wound exists on an arm or as rust exists on a car. The rust cannot exist on its own any more than cold can exist without the existence of heat or darkness can exist without the existence of light.

Despite the horrible effects of evil on our world, the Christian believer can take comfort in the words of the Lord Jesus Christ recorded for us in the Gospel of John,

“I’ve told you this so that my peace will be with you. In this world, you’ll have evil. But cheer up! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

More importantly, we look forward with great anticipation to our home in heaven where the ultimate evil, death, will finally be destroyed along with the “grief, crying, or pain, because the first things have disappeared” (Revelation 21:4).

Doulos Studies

(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add you to the list: Mail List)

I do thank you for your gifts. It is your faithful and continued support that makes these messages possible.

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