Jehovah Makes Peace, Creates Evil
“I FORM the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil; I am Jehovah, that doeth all these things.” (Isa. 45:7, AS) This reference to Jehovah’s creating darkness and evil has been gleefully seized upon by skeptics, atheists and other critics of the Bible to support their position that it is not the inspired Word of God but merely a collection of ancient writings of a primitive people. However, their prejudice, doubtless begotten by a lurking suspicion that their position is not as strong as they would like it to be, has blinded them to a reasonable consideration of this text as well as of the rest of the Bible. Instead of following such a course, let us heed the counsel of the Bible’s Author, “Come now, and let us reason together,” and see just what light reason and the Bible itself throw on the meaning of this scripture.—Isa. 1:18.
How does Jehovah form light and create darkness? He forms light by causing his Word to be understood through the fulfillment of its prophecies. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and light unto my path.” “The path of the righteous is as the dawning light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” Such light, however, is not for the wicked. “Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.” To the wicked Jehovah sends darkness. “God did not hold back from punishing the angels that sinned, but, by throwing them into Tartarus, delivered them to pits of dense darkness to be reserved for judgment.” And concerning men who slip into the Christian congregation for base purposes we are told that for them “the blackness of darkness stands reserved forever”. (Ps. 97:11; 119:105; Prov. 4:18, AS; 2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 4, 13, NW) Such was the case in the ninth plague upon ancient Egypt. The Egyptians were enveloped with a darkness that could be felt, whereas the Israelites had light in their dwellings.—Ex. 10:21-23.
“I MAKE PEACE, AND CREATE EVIL”
The Scriptures speak of Jehovah as the God of peace: “The God who gives peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.” (Rom. 16:20, NW) That text, however, also implies that Jehovah is the God of war, in that he will crush his enemies. How can he be both the God of peace and the God of war? In that there is a proper time and occasion for peace and for war. “For everything there is an appointed time; and there is a time for every purpose under the heavens: a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”—Eccl. 3:1, 8, AT.
Jehovah makes peace now for those who seek him in his appointed way. “Jehovah will bless his people with peace.” The new world over which his Son will rule will be a peaceful world: “In his days shall the righteous flourish, and abundance of peace, till the moon be no more.” “Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end.” That is why the angels said at the time of Jesus’ birth, “Peace among men of good-will.”—Ps. 29:11; 72:7; Isa. 9:7, AS; Luke 2:14, NW.
When creatures go contrary to his will then it becomes necessary for Jehovah to make war upon them in his own time and way. Then he becomes the God of war: “Jehovah strong and mighty, Jehovah mighty in battle. Who is this King of glory? Jehovah of hosts, he is the King of glory.” (Ps. 24:8, 10, AS; Jas. 5:4, NW) As such he fought for his people Israel in times past, and he will again show himself as the God of war at the battle of Armageddon, where he will completely destroy his enemies for the vindication of his supremacy and the deliverance of his people.—2 Chron. 20:15; Rev. 16:14, 16.
In what sense can it be said that Jehovah creates evil? Certainly not in the sense of his creating wickedness or moral badness, for it is utterly impossible for him to do anything wrong. “It is impossible for God to lie.” We are assured, “Good and upright is Jehovah: therefore will he instruct sinners in the way.” Addressing him the psalmist stated: “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of thy throne: lovingkindness and truth go before thy face.” And Moses sang of this theme: “For I will proclaim the name of Jehovah: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. The Rock, his work is perfect; for all his ways are justice: a God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and right is he.”—Deut. 32:3, 4; Ps. 25:8; 89:14, AS; Heb. 6:18, NW.
Yes, Jehovah is very jealous for his name as a God of justice. That is why when Abraham, in connection with the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, asked, “Shall not the judge of the whole earth himself act justly?” Jehovah was willing to grant Abraham’s plea if but ten righteous persons were to be found in those cities. (Gen. 18:20-33, AT) Throughout the Scriptures, from Genesis to Revelation, Jehovah appeals to our reason and explains his reasons for executing his judgments so that we may have unshaken confidence in his justice. Particularly is this apparent in the prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel.—Isa. 1:2-20; 24:1-5; Jer. 16:10-13; 22:1-9; Ezek. 6:1-10; 22:1-16.
Jehovah, however, can be said to create evil, because the term “evil” can be used to designate not only “moral badness or offense; wrongdoing; wickedness”, but also “anything impairing happiness or welfare or depriving of good; injury; disaster”. (Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary) In view of the foregoing scriptures showing that Jehovah is just and righteous we must conclude that the evil that he creates must be that of calamity and disaster.
The two uses of this term are to be seen in the following prophecy, wherein Jehovah told that he would bring evil or calamity upon Israel because of their evil or wicked course. Moses said: “For I know that after my death you will be sure to act perniciously, and swerve from the way that I appointed you; and in after days evil will befall you, because you will be doing what is evil in the sight of the LORD.” Note also the same in the following, which records a fulfillment of this prophecy. “Then the Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, by serving the Baals and forsaking the LORD. Then . . . the hand of the LORD was against them for evil, as the LORD had declared.”—Deut. 31:29; Judg. 2:11, 14, 15, AT.
EVIL VERSUS WRONGDOING
Thus we see that there is a great difference between evil and wrongdoing. All wrong or wrongdoing is evil, but not all evil is wrong. An act of injustice is always wrong and it usually results in working evil or injury to another. On the other hand, the administration of justice is always right. Even though it may bring evil upon the one against whom it is enforced, that does not mean that the administration of justice is wrong. Rather, it shows how God does create evil.
Whether his creatures receive good and peace or evil and suffering at the hands of Jehovah depends upon what choice they make. As Moses put it to the Israelites: “See, I put before you today life and prosperity, along with death and misfortune. If you heed the commands of the LORD your God which I am giving you today, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commands, statutes, and ordinances, then you shall live, . . . If, however, your heart turns away, and you give no heed, but are enticed to pay homage to alien gods and serve them, I tell you today that you shall most certainly perish, . . . I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have put life and death before you, the blessing and the curse; therefore choose life, that you as well as your descendants may live.”—Deut. 30:15-19, AT.
Adam and Eve made the wrong choice and so God sentenced them: “Cursed shall be the ground through you, in suffering shall you gain your living from it as long as you live. By the sweat of your brow shall you earn your living, until you return to the ground, since it is from it that you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you must return.” Such suffering and death were great evils for Adam and his offspring, but they were not wrongs; there were no extenuating circumstances; the infliction of such evils was just.—Gen. 3:17, 19, AT; Rom. 5:12; 6:23.
The deluge of Noah’s day was a great evil, but it was not a wrong; those antediluvians got what was coming to them for choosing wickedness and violence instead of peace and righteousness. (Gen. 6:5; 7:21) The Pharaoh of the time of Moses chose to stubbornly oppose Jehovah, and so God sent ten plagues, and finally had to wipe out Pharaoh and his hosts in the Red sea. All such were great evils, calamities, which entailed great suffering upon the Egyptians. But they were not wrongs. Pharaoh was the wrongdoer, and Jehovah was perfectly within his rights in thus punishing him and thereby settling the issue as to who is supreme.—Exodus, chapters 7 through 14.
At the present time Jehovah is having a warning sounded concerning his judgments soon to be executed upon modern Babylon, but few people are heeding this warning. When ‘the slain of Jehovah at Armageddon extend from one end of the earth to the other, being neither mourned, gathered up nor buried, but lying as dung upon the face of the ground’, that will surely be the greatest evil, disaster, calamity that will ever have befallen mankind; but it will not be a wrong. It will be a righteous execution of judgment.—Jer. 25:33; Rev. 18:4-8, 20.
While Jehovah brings the evil of destruction upon the wicked because they are deserving of it, he does so primarily because his name and sovereignty are at stake, “for he cannot deny himself.” And if he seems to delay the execution of such evildoers, let it be remembered that that likewise is for the vindication of his name, even as he told Pharaoh: “For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, so that you would have been effaced from the earth; but this is why I have spared you: to show you my power, and to have my fame recounted throughout all the earth.”—Ex. 9:15, 16, AT; 2 Tim. 2:13, NW.
CHRISTIANS MAY NOT USE EVIL
Ever since A.D. 325 an apostate Christianity has presumed to inflict evil upon those who claimed to be Christians and who disagreed with its teachings. In this it has been guilty of great wrong and presumptuous sin, because the inflicting of evil as a punishment is primarily the prerogative of Jehovah God and the One to whom he delegated such power and authority, Christ Jesus. (Matt. 28:18; John 5:27; 1 Cor. 15:25, NW) The Christian’s sword is not one of steel but is “the sword of the spirit, that is, God’s word”. Therefore Paul plainly states: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not wage warfare according to what we are in the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but powerful by God for overturning strongly entrenched things. For we are overturning reasonings and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are bringing every thought into captivity to make it obedient to the Christ.”—2 Cor. 10:3-5; Eph. 6:17, NW.
Not only may Christians not resort to evil, pressure, persecution, or force to spread their message, but they may not even reward evil done to them with evil. “Return evil for evil to no one.” “Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but yield place to the wrath; for it is written: ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says Jehovah.’ But, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by doing this you will heap fiery coals upon his head.’ Do not let yourself be conquered by the evil, but keep conquering the evil with the good.”—Rom. 12:17, 19-21, NW.
It is in keeping with this principle that Christians are counseled not to go to worldly courts of law to settle their differences with each other. Rather than do that they should be willing to be defrauded and wronged. Incidentally, the frequency with which this admonition is violated today of itself proves that Christendom is not Christian.—Matt. 7:20; 1 Cor. 6:5-8, NW.
Not in his punishing of evildoers but in his displaying patience and mercy are we to imitate our heavenly Father: “You heard that it was said: ‘You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ However, I say to you: Continue to love your enemies and to pray for those persecuting you; that you may prove yourselves sons of your Father who is in the heavens, since he makes his sun rise upon wicked people and good and makes it rain upon righteous people and unrighteous. You must accordingly be complete, as your heavenly Father is complete.”—Matt. 5:43-45, 48, NW.
Today Christians can best follow that admonition by bringing the good news of God’s kingdom to the people; by continuing to go from door to door with the message regardless of how few hearing ears they may find and regardless of how many doors may be slammed in their faces; by letting their light shine on the street corners in spite of the reproaches heaped upon them by mockers, scorners and opposers; and by visiting the homes of the people and patiently instructing them even though they seem slow of comprehension. Doing so they vindicate Jehovah’s long-suffering and patience with evildoers in that, as a result of their preaching, others gain salvation.—2 Pet. 3:15, NW.
In summing up we can see that Jehovah God creates light and peace for his people and for men of good will, but darkness and evil for his enemies, the wicked; that the evil he brings upon his foes is not wrong or wickedness but is deserved suffering, calamity and destruction. He has permitted wickedness because it serves in the vindication of his supremacy. Christians, however, are not authorized to inflict evil upon others, neither as a means of spreading their message nor as retaliation for evil done to them. The way they imitate God is by doing good to all as they have opportunity, leaving to him and to his chief Executioner, Christ Jesus, the settling of all accounts.
There is no God else besides me, a just God and a Saviour; . . . Only in Jehovah, it is said of me, is righteousness and strength; even to him shall men come; and all they that were incensed against him shall be put to shame.—Isa. 45:21, 24, AS.