Is God Responsible for All Evil?

I will continue to answer the objections from the atheists in Balboa Park in San Diego.  I will use the verses they supplied in the handout they gave to anyone who was interested.

Their next objection was Isaiah 45:7 in which they try to imply God is responsible for all evil.  Isaiah 45:7 The One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these.”  Some translations instead of saying creating calamity, say creating evil.  If God is the creator of all evil then He cannot be perfectly good.  This would then serve as a defeater against the very nature of God.

The first problem is these atheists make no effort to provide context to Isaiah 45:7.  Proper interpretation requires this to understand the meaning of the verse.  They also make no attempt at looking for possible solutions.  A scholarly effort would take into consideration counter arguments.  These atheists make no effort to research the verses they call into question in their flyer.  All they want to do is bombard the Christian with multiple verses that seem to teach God is a moral monster.  However, utilizing some research answers can be found.

Prior to this event God judged the northern kingdom of Israel and they were captured by the Assyrians and dispersed throughout Assyria (740 BC).  God also judged the southern kingdom of Judah for their rebellion and worship of idols.  He used the Chaldeans, led by Nebuchadnezzar, to capture Jerusalem and begin to deport the Jews to Babylon (605 BC).  The Jewish temple was completely destroyed.  This was foretold by the prophet Daniel in chapter 9 verses 7-14: “Righteousness belongs to You, O Lord, but to us open shame, as it is this day—to the men of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those who are nearby and those who are far away in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of their unfaithful deeds which they have committed against You. 8 “Open shame belongs to us, O Lord, to our kings, our princes and our fathers, because we have sinned against You. 9 To the Lord our God belong compassion and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against Him; 10 nor have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in His teachings which He set before us through His servants the prophets. 11 “Indeed all Israel has transgressed Your law and turned aside, not obeying Your voice; so the curse has been poured out on us, along with the oath which is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, for we have sinned against Him. 12 “Thus He has confirmed His words which He had spoken against us and against our rulers who ruled us, to bring on us great calamity; for under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what was done to Jerusalem. 13 “As it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come on us; yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our iniquity and giving attention to Your truth. 14 “Therefore the LORD has kept the calamity in store and brought it on us; for the LORD our God is righteous with respect to all His deeds which He has done, but we have not obeyed His voice.”

Daniel prophesied that God would bring calamity (evil) down upon Judah for their sin and rebellion.  These verses portray God as a righteous God who cannot tolerate sin and punishes those who rebel against Him; even his chosen nation. As a result Judah was in captivity for approximately 70 years.  They received the righteous judgment of God.  The same Hebrew word for God’s righteous judgment “raah” (calamity or evil) is used in both the Daniel and Isaiah passages.  I believe calamity is a better English word than evil.  The word evil is a subjective judgment that carries lots of baggage.  The word calamity captures the sense of God’s just punishment.

After 70 years of captivity in Babylon, God raised up the Persian ruler Cyrus to bring the Jews back to their land.  We read in Isaiah 45:1-7 Thus says the LORD to Cyrus His anointed, Whom I have taken by the right hand,To subdue nations before him And to loose the loins of kings; To open doors before him so that gates will not be shut: 2 “I will go before you and make the rough places smooth; I will shatter the doors of bronze and cut through their iron bars. 3 “I will give you the treasures of darkness And hidden wealth of secret places, So that you may know that it is I, The LORD, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name. 4 “For the sake of Jacob My servant, And Israel My chosen one, I have also called you by your name; I have given you a title of honor Though you have not known Me. 5 “I am the LORD, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God. I will gird you, though you have not known Me; 6 That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun That there is no one besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other, 7 The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these. 

God tells Cyrus He is the only God and that he doesn’t know Him.  God then used Cyrus of Persia to punish the Chaldeans (539 BC in accordance to a prophecy by Jeremiah 50:35; 51:1-8; 51:24) who had deported Judah to Babylon.  God took credit for the “evil or calamity” done to Babylon, an evil pagan nation.  This was a punishment.  We can compare this to God taking credit for Israel wiping out other pagan nations under the military leadership of Joshua.  However, this time He used a pagan nation to deliver the punishment.

Is God responsible for all evil?  Once we understand the context of the Isaiah 45:7 and the historical background we see a righteous God exacting punishment upon people who reject Him and worship idols.  It is clear to me this group of atheists don’t want to allow God to be a righteous judge.  God’s holy nature is dependent upon His punishing lawbreakers.  God is not responsible for evil.  A righteous and holy God will cause calamity upon those who deserve punishment.

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