“Why Does Evil Exist? (Part #5)”
“That they may know…[there is] none beside me. I [am] the LORD, and [there is] none else”
“I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these [things].” (Isaiah 45:7)
“[Thou art] of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity:…” (Habakkuk 1:13)
“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:” (James 1:13)
In above set of Scriptures, we find one of the supposedly contradictory texts of the Scriptures. On one hand, from the lips of the Lord Himself, He clearly states that “I create evil”. Then later in the Scriptures we find Habakkuk, as he speaks concerning the Lord, says “[Thou art] of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity:” then, to add confusion to our subject, James states clearly that God “cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:”
In this series of lessons, we will be looking into two basic questions, first, “What Is God’s Role In The Existence of Evil ?” and, secondly, “What Is The Purpose Behind The Existence Of Evil ?”
Before we begin this portion of our study, let’s pick up with the summary from our studies so far …
1. “Evil” describes something that causes harm or injury
2. “Evil” can involve moral wickedness or the results of that moral wickedness on our lives
3. Our Lord is in absolute control of all things, this principle is clearly presented throughout the Bible
4. The Lord is in control of Satan himself, who can do nothing apart from the Lord’s allowance
5. The Lord is perfectly holy and separate from sin. Because of this He is in no way the cause of sin, nor its entrance into the world.
6. Satan and Adam are the ones who are responsible for sin’s existence and entrance into this world
7. The Lord created the results of sin that we see taking place in the world.
8. The Lord either allows the results of sin to take place, or in many cases, He actively brings them to pass.
If this is so, our next questions are “Why did the Lord allow the evil of sin to enter His creation and all of mankind knowing that only harm would result from it?” “And why did He, through allowance or His direct intervention, bring to pass the evil results of our sin?”
To find the answer to the above questions, let’s refer back to one of our foundational texts, Isaiah 45:7…
“I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these [things].”
In the verses preceding this text, the Lord clearly explains to us all why He brings to pass the results of our sin, and by implication, why He allowed sin to enter His sinlessly perfect creation… Please note verses 5-7…
“I [am] the LORD, and [there is] none else, [there is] no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that [there is] none beside me. I [am] the LORD, and [there is] none else. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these [things].”
Why did our loving, kind, gracious Lord “form light and create darkness”…” make peace and create evil”? It was to reveal Himself to us. It was to clearly show us that He is the only true God. This is what our text unmistakably tells us.
So in what way does the entrance of sin and its results into the world reveal God to us? Lets take a look at three Biblical examples to help explain how He performed this…
1. The Ten Plagues of Egypt
2. The Life Of Job
3. The Miracles of Christ (in our next lesson)
Example #1 – The Ten Plagues Of Egypt
In this account of the sinfulness of the Pharaoh of Egypt and the resultant effects of his sin on the nation of Egypt, we find a clear declaration of their purpose….
To Show The Egyptians His Identity As True God and Sovereign Over All…
“And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet. Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land. And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt. But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, [and] my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. And the Egyptians shall know that I [am] the LORD, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them. And Moses and Aaron did as the LORD commanded them, so did they.” (Exodus 7:1-6)
To Show Pharaoh His Supremacy Among All Gods…
“And Moses said unto Pharaoh, Glory over me: when shall I intreat for thee, and for thy servants, and for thy people, to destroy the frogs from thee and thy houses, [that] they may remain in the river only? And he said, To morrow. And he said, [Be it] according to thy word: that thou mayest know that [there is] none like unto the LORD our God. And the frogs shall depart from thee, and from thy houses, and from thy servants, and from thy people; they shall remain in the river only.” (Exodus 8:9-11)
To Show The Israelites His Identity As True God and Sovereign Over All…
“And the LORD said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I might shew these my signs before him: And that thou mayest tell in the ears of thy son, and of thy son’s son, what things I have wrought in Egypt, and my signs which I have done among them; that ye may know how that I [am] the LORD.” (Exodus 10:1-2)
One quick note about the term “hardening” Pharaoh’s heart… Keep in mind, in our previous study, we saw that the Lord will never “tempt” any man, nor can He be the cause of sinful acts. The best way for us to understand the phrase “hardening” is to understand that the Lord ALLOWED Pharaoh’s heart to become hardened due to Satanic intervention and the rebellious, fallen nature possessed by Pharaoh.
How did the Lord reveal Himself through the plagues? Well of course, the greatness of His power is revealed clearly through the performance of the miracles but it goes far beyond that. Keep in mind that the Egyptians worshipped many, many false gods (probably in the 100s). In their belief system these gods were ordered in a hierarchy system with certain gods having authority and strength over others.
The plagues that were performed went directly against some of the most powerful and authoritative gods that the Egyptians worshipped. The following is a list of some possible combinations of plagues and the gods they went against:
1. water to blood – the god of the Nile river, Hapi
2. frogs – the god of fertility of fields and rivers (holds frog in her hand), Heka
3. lice – the god of the earth, Geb
4. flies – the god with a fly head, Kheper
5. murrain – the bull god – Apis
6. boils – the god of health – Imhotep
7. hail – the goddess of the sky – Nut
8. locusts – the god of the crops – Seth
9. darkness – the sun god – RA (the greatest god of them all)
10. death of firstborn – Pharaoh (believed to be a god) whose first born son would become a god as well
(Please keep in mind, I am certainly not a scholar concerning the Egyptian gods. I have tried to the best of my ability to match up the proper gods with the proper plague, but there could be variations of the above list. Regardless of which plague goes against which god, the basic principle can be easily seen by the above listing.)
The plagues were like a “faceoff” between the Lord and these different gods. Each one of these resulted in the Lord actually using their gods to be a plague and to bring evil (harm) to the Egyptians, and in some cases the Israelites.
The Lord, through the plagues that resulted from the rebellious sins of Pharaoh, clearly manifested to both Israelites and Egyptians, His phenomenal power and His absolute supremacy over all of the Egyptian gods. Truly, He revealed to all that “I am the LORD.” This could only have happened through the existence of sin and its harmful results.
All of these truths are reaffirmed to us:
“For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.” (Romans 9:17)
Example #2 – The Life Of Job
In Job 42:1-7, we find Job describing what he had learned throughout his long period of evil (harmful things) that he had received from the hand of Satan, under the Lord’s allowance…
“Then Job answered the LORD, and said, I know that thou canst do every [thing], and [that] no thought can be withholden from thee. Who [is] he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor [myself], and repent in dust and ashes. And it was [so], that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me [the thing that is] right, as my servant Job [hath].” (Job 42:1-7)
Job, as he had gone through these many trials had come to recognize:
1. “I know that thou canst do every [thing]” – the unlimited power of the Lord
2. “and [that] no thought can be withholden from thee.” – the unlimited knowledge of the Lord
3. “Who [is] he that hideth counsel without knowledge?” – our futility in understanding all of His workings
4. “therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not.” – Coming to an understanding of the above three principles, worked within Job a spirit of humility and great reverence.
5. “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.” – Although, prior to His experience, Job had mental knowledge of all these things, it was only after experiencing God’s greatness in his life that he came to understand these truths in his heart. He had previously “heard” of Him but, now, he has “seen” Him. This would result in his life being affected by these great truths as compared to simply possessing a head knowledge of them.
To summarize, just as with the Egyptian plagues, a sincere, heart-felt recognition of God’s person and a genuine humility were gained through this experience of Job’s.
That which could not be learned of the Lord through the teachings of His Word, were learned through this life experience by Job. This is a very important point that deserves to be emphasized in our study. We can possess a great mental understanding of the person of our Lord and yet never come to genuine experiential knowledge of them. We could be taught all we want about the Lord’s supremacy and greatness, but it is through experiencing Him during the “evil” times of our lives that we can come to a much clearer, life-changing understanding of them.
If we were truthful, we would all have to say that if we are His child, we have learned much about Him through our daily walk with Him (which includes feeling the results of sin in our lives). This is all a part of why He has chosen to allow sin and the results of sin into this world. For us to come to a greater understanding of Who He is, What He does, and our need to submit to Him.
In our next study we will look at the miracles performed by Christ, Himself, as a source of understanding how the Lord is glorified by the harmful events that take place in this world…
THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:
Anything that clearly reveals the Lord to those who are lost is an act of love, grace and kindness. Although they may result in suffering on earth, they can reap the benefits of eternity with the Lord.
What we have seen in our study so far….
We have attempted to come to a very basic understanding of the term “evil” as used in the Bible. We have come to see that:
1. “Evil” describes something that causes harm or injury
2. “Evil” can be referring to harm that is so severe, that it causes total destruction or uselessness
3. “Evil” can, but not necessarily, involves moral wickedness
4. “Evil” can describe sin or it can describe the results of sin
5. “Evil” can describe the direct results of sin
6. “Evil” can describe the indirect results of sin
7. “Evil” can describe an act that is morally wicked
8. “Evil” can describe, not the act, but the result of moral wickedness
9. Evil is “the condition/act of sin, OR the direct or indirect results of sin, that are harmful, and potentially ruinous, to any part of God’s creation.”
10. Our Lord is in absolute control of all things, this principle is clearly presented throughout the Bible
11. It is only because the Lord is in control of all things that we can place our unwavering faith in Him
12. The Sovereignty Of God affects: His ability to aid us, His answering our prayers, His ability to save, His prophecies to use
13. The Lord is in control of Satan himself, who can do nothing apart from the Lord’s allowance
14. The Lord is perfectly holy and separate from sin.
15. Satan and Adam are the ones who are responsible for sin’s existence and entrance into this world
16. The Lord is the author and sovereign controller of the results of sin upon mankind
17. The Lord uses the evil (harmful) things of this world to reveal Himself to mankind
18. In the 10 Plagues of Egypt, the Lord revealed Himself by defeating 10 of the main gods of the Egyptians
19. In the life of Job, Job came to experience truths about the LORD, that he had previously known in his mind but was unable to grasp in his heart.
May the Lord bless you as you continue to seek His truth.
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