How sovereign is God: What is evil?

This is a partial rewrite of something I posted elsewhere. May it edify those seeking solid food.

Isaiah 66:2a, Acts 7:50 “For all those things has My hand made, and all those things have been,” said the LORD.

Isaiah 42:5 Thus said God the LORD, “He that created the heavens, and stretched them out; He that spread forth the earth, and that which comes out of it; He that gives breath to the people on it, and spirit to them that walk therein.”

Deuteronomy 10:14 Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD’s your God, the earth also, with all that therein is.

Acts 17:24-25 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth, dwells not in temples made with hands. Neither is [He] worshipped with men’s hands, as though He needed any thing, seeing He gives to all life, and breath, and all things.

Hebrews 1:3 Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.

Colossians 1:17 And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist (continue).

Romans 11:36 For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things. To whom is glory forever. Amen.

The famous tale about what is evil has a major flaw in it: it denies the omniscient power of God. How can He be absent of the very creation He holds together?

Amos 9:2-4 Though they dig into hell (Sheol, the grave), there shall My hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, there will I bring them down.

And though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out there; and though they be hid from My sight in the bottom of the sea, there will I command the serpent, and he shall bite them.

And though they go into captivity before their enemies, there will I command the sword, and it shall slay them: and I will set My eyes on them for evil, and not for good.

Amos 3:6 Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? Shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD has not done it?

Amos 5:18 “Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord! To what end is it for you? The day of the Lord is darkness, and not light.”

Matthew 5:45 He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Proverbs 16:4 “The Lord hath made all things for Himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.”

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

Isaiah 54:16 “Behold, I have created the [black]smith that blows the coals in the fire, and that brings forth an instrument (weapon) for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy.”

Romans 9:17 For the Scripture said unto Pharaoh, even for this same purpose have I raised you up, that I might show My power in you.

Romans 9:21-22 Has not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel to honor, and another to dishonor? What if God, willing to show His wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction?

2 Timothy 2:20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor.

If He abhors sin, how can He have created evil? First, we must understand the difference between sin and evil. Sin (Hebrew: asham, aveira, avone, chet, pasha, etc., Greek: amartia or hamartia) is the (intentional or unintentional) transgression against God’s will and nature (holiness), also translated as missing the mark (bull’s-eye).

While sin can be evil, other transgressions may be the failings caused by our nature. The prophet Jonah was not evil, but disobedient and ignorant of the Lord’s objective. Although Moses had sinned, losing his chance to step foot on the Promised Land, he had not become wicked as a result. YHWH Himself may tell you directly to do or avoid something, even though He spares others the same order. How many times have you repeated an action to later understand that it was a sin for you?

Evil (ra’ in Hebrew) means disaster, calamity, adversity, bad, affliction, displeasure, distress, injury, and misery. In the Greek text, ponéros (evil) is derived from poneó (toil, hard labor), penomai (to toil) and its derivative pónos (labor, pain, anguish, and suffering). This definition reflects back to our works and intent apart from His exact will as insufficient (Job 14:4, Psalm 14:3, Psalm 53:1-3, Isaiah 64:6, Matthew 19:17, Mark 10:18, Luke 18:19) and that our trials in the faith purify us (Psalm 66:10, Matthew 5:12, John 15:20, John 16:33, Acts 14:22, Romans 5:3, 1 Corinthians 3:13, Hebrews 10:34, 1 Peter 1:7, James 1:2-3, James 5:10-13, Revelation 2:9, Revelation 2:22, Revelation 7:14). Another word, kakia (the Greek goddess of depravity), is also interpreted as evil, which could be a source for the confusion.

In the ancient Semitic languages, the letter ghah (gh), meaning dark, crooked, twisted, and goat, was represented as two rope strands twisting together. This led to the English word, wicked, derived from how wicks for candles were created.

Simply put, evil is good, twisted. One slight turn can set off a cascade of troubles as Jacob discovered over the years after he brought his brother’s birthright. Judah explained to Jeremiah why they served the Queen of Heaven along with the God of their fathers (Jeremiah 44). As Jesus taught the spiritual meaning of Torah, He warned about the leaven (man-made pollution) from the religious and governmental rulers of His day (Matthew 16:6 & 11, Mark 8:15, Luke 12:1). He also warn us of doing good things to garner the attention of others (Matthew 6:1-4, 16-17), another little twist.

But how? The will of God and the actions performed by the hands and minds of less than perfect beings, whether physical or of spirit. Why? To refine (or chastise) His children as they learn not to desire this temporal existence over His Kingdom. The adversary is but a mere tool to achieve this end. Take the story of Job, for example. The Father was the one who brought up Job to the adversary (Job 1:8, Job 2:3), which prompted all of the events to excise Job’s self-righteousness (Job 32:1, Job 42:1-6) and his friends’ assumptions about how the Lord operates (Job 42:7). Through a whirlwind, the Almighty Himself announced that He alone is the author of everything, good and bad, upon the earth for His own reasons (Job 38-42). Note: YHWH had nothing bad to say about the young man, Elihu.

This is seen again during David’s reign; both the 24th chapter of 2 Samuel and the 21st 1 Chronicles tell the same story:

2 Samuel 24:1 And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them to say, “Go, number Israel and Judah.”

1 Chronicles 21:1 And Satan stood up against Israel, and incited David to number Israel.

There are many examples in the Bible of how mankind uses corrupt means to try to achieve what it wants and how the Father “untwists” them to get His will accomplished.

Genesis 45:5-7 – [Joseph said,] “Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that you sold me here: for God did send me before you to preserve life. For these two years has the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be ripening nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.”

Genesis 50:20 – [Joseph said,] “But as for you, you thought evil against me; but God meant it to good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.”

With eyes wide open and aware of Who He was, the Ancient Hebrews entered a covenant (contract, pact, marriage, testament, agreement) with the Almighty, taking upon themselves both blessings and curses dependent on their obedience (Deuteronomy 28). Scores of times He warned Israel [and now spiritual Israel (the ecclesia)] not to fall into rebellion because the negative consequences would be activated. He takes no pleasure in meting out judgment (Ezekiel 18:23, Ezekiel 18:32, Ezekiel 33:11, Lamentations 3:33), but He must deal with things against His nature and desire (hence His long-suffering patience with us).

For another analysis, Dr. Lorraine Day has a great one called The Difference between Evil and Sin. Yes, this is a tough subject, but trust His Guiding Spirit and take it to Him for clarification.

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