555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

343. Can Evil Emanate from God?

This is a topic that has caused much controversy. Evil is the negation of good. God is the source of all goodness, and no evil dwells in him; but with the withdrawal of his guiding and protecting spirit from man, evil comes. In I Sam. 16:14, we are distinctly told that this was the case with Saul. The Spirit of God had forsaken him, and then his soul was an easy prey to the Spirit of Evil. He was hypochondriac and his distemper was aggravated by his wicked temper and his consciousness that as the result of his own sin and folly he was in danger of losing his throne. The passage in Is. 45:7 "I form the light and create darkness; I make peace and create evil" does not refer to moral evil, but to discord or disturbance in the order of the universe as a whole. Thus, as light and darkness are opposites, so in the next clause of the verse, peace and disorder are opposites. Evil is the negation of good and distinction must be made between natural and moral evil. Among natural evils are wars, earthquakes, storms, plagues or whatever disturbs or disarranges the perfection of natural things; whereas moral evil is thought, word or act that is contrary to the revealed law of God and is therefore sin. It is the peculiarity of Hebrew writing to delight in contrasts. You find a long series of them in Proverbs. They are always of the same nature of parallelisms. Thus, in the passage in Isaiah 45, the prophet used the converse of the peace he has been talking of. We should say war or physical disturbance. He uses the word evil in the sense of punishment or misery. It is the state of the nation that he is considering. It serves God and is faithful to him and is prosperous. The prosperity comes from God. It deserts him and disobeys him and is punished by captivity and oppression. They also come from God. In that sense he creates the condition which they regard as an evil. There is a similar argument in Romans 11:22. Moral evil he never creates.