According to Isaiah 45:7, is God also the Devil ? Or is evil just a degree of good?

I was watching the open forum event at the University of Miami and I saw this question come up . Could we go into it more and try to form a more complete answer. I know Ravi did not have the time to do it on the spot although he did adress the mistake in the questioners assumptions.

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Hi, @ciprian.boldi! Is this the clip you were referring to?

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Hello @ciprian.boldi! I am also interested to know what you were referring to specifically. I look forward to your reply.

Thank you for your question. :slight_smile:

Grace and peace,
mary beth

Yes that’s the clip. The time stamp for the question in the video is 1:22:37

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Welcome back my friend, so glad you shared your question. I have not been on connect long, could you share a little more about you by way of a small intro? Perhaps you could articulate your thoughts on the question you have as well.
I am in WV USA look forward to your reply.
Mike

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God is all good, there is no evil in him. Ezekiel tells us Satin was a Cherub.
While the verse your qoating discusses blessings and punishment. Nothing more.
God is just and in His justice he should just kill us all.
But instead he has chosen to give us Jesus.
People want to say God is evil when He punishes or allows us to be punished.
But He never punishes the rightous.
So no, God is never evil and Satan is a separate entity.

This is a fair question. I am not sure that there is a definitive answer but if we look at the context, we might get an idea about what is being said in Isaiah 45:7.

I think the first thing to remember is that Yahweh is speaking to Cyrus. Who was Cyrus and what was his POV as it pertained to the cosmic order of his world? He was the King of Persia and the Persian’s of that day had a worldview based on the teaching of Zarathustra. He was a monotheist (hold that thought) who believed that the one deity was divided into good and evil which is the springboard for the conversation even today. This particular verse has launched several views in the church itself among them Marcion used the verse to argue that the OT Yahweh and the NT father of Jesus were not the same God.

There was also the gnostic view of the Valentinians and Manichaeism (Augustine was a convert from Manichaeism to Christianity) that would argue that this verse was a deception of the of what they called Demiurugs, or keepers of the created physical world.

If that makes sense then what Yahweh’s response to that worldview is saying is that because you (Cyrus) believe in the dualism of light and dark, good and evil then understand that I am that God.

And I will give you the treasures of darkness

and treasures of secret places

so that you may know that I am Yahweh,

the one who calls you by your name, the God of Israel (Is 45:3 LEB)

Here is an excerpt from a commentary that might better explain (boldface is my emphasis):

The meaning of the words is not exhausted by those who content themselves with the assertion, that by the evil (or darkness) we are not to understand the evil of guilt (malum culpae), but the evil of punishment (malum paenae). Undoubtedly, evil as an act is not the direct working of God, but the spontaneous work of a creature endowed with freedom. At the same time, evil, as well as good, has in this sense its origin in God,—that He combines within Himself the first principles of love and wrath, the possibility of evil, the self-punishment of evil, and therefore the consciousness of guilt as well as the evil of punishment in the broadest sense. When the apostle celebrates the glory of free grace in Rom. 9:11ff., he stands on that giddy height, to which few are able to follow him without falling headlong into the false conclusions of a decretum absolutum, and the denial of all creaturely freedom.

Keil, C. F., & Delitzsch, F. (1996). Commentary on the Old Testament (Vol. 7, pp. 444–445). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.

From a personal point of view, I think of good and evil like a form of potential energy it is our choice to set one or the other into motion. To be clear, I don’t mean ‘good’ like good enough to be saved or by ‘bad’ bad enough to go to hell. I mean ‘good’ like reaching out to pull someone up verse pushing them down.

Sorry for the ramble but you picked a tough subject.

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I cannot recall where I heard this from. But evil is not the opposite of good but the lack of it. The Greek word for sin used in Romans 3:23 (harmatia) means to miss the mark or fall short. Think about it, even atheists have to show common courtesy sometimes. I don’t believe we realize how much the Holy spirit restrains evil in this world. Have you ever been discussing spiritual issues with people who don’t want hear it and you breathe a quick prayer and they either change their attitude or leave your presence. Well that’s God drawing them to himself or they reject it and have to leave.

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Hello. I looked into this thoroughly.

Isaiah 45:7 is in relation to Genesis 1:1-5 where in Genesis it talkes about God creating heaven and earth and light and calling it good. Isaiah expounds on what Moses says and is saying that God not only creates “good” but also plays a role in making “calamity” for those, who, presumably, go against His ways as is mandated by the law and the prophets before him, stating something like, “Israel, if you follow my ways and meditate on my precepts I will bless you, but if you turn away, I will create calamity for you” This is a principle found all throughout the Bible that God disciplines those He loves. In fact, the Father “disciplined” Jesus by death on the cross SO THAT He could glorify Jesus above all creature in heaven and earth. It says in Hebrews, “For a little while, He was made lower than the angels” and that is telling as Jesus had to be “born of a woman” for Him to be fully glorified. I point this out to say there are times in the OT where it speaks of God appearing before people, such as ADONI meeting with Abraham in Genesis 18:1 and other passages as well. It is said that this isn’t actually ADONI or YHWH but the Son. The Son is what makes the Father known and glorifies the Father.

I have a version of the LXX in English and in this translation it says that God creates “evils” but it is plural with an “s” indicating it is talking about “things that happen” rather than it actually saying God creates “evil” as a thing in itself.

Hope this helps.

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Thank you for posting this question and the encouragement to pursue the answer together as a community. My thoughts are more along general idea behind the question than the specific passage of Is 45. My first thoughts are that the question has some flawed reasoning. The questioner has two premises to lead him to his question.

  1. Good and evil are a difference in degrees of the same thing.
  2. In Is 45:7, God is described as someone who creates light and darkness and as one who creates peace and calamity

So, is God both good and evil as He seems to do both good and evil?

Goodness must be absolute
The questioner sees good and evil as variable points on a sliding scale of morality with the measure being ‘goodness’. Goodness in this kind of sliding scale is ‘relative’ not ‘absolute’ as defined in the bible. Anytime we define goodness apart from an absolute moral law, goodness becomes a matter of preference and loses its meaning. What would be more accurate is to define good and evil objectively according to the degree of conformity to an absolute moral law. By this definition, how can anyone be partially good or partially 100%? It’s a mathematical impossibility. That is why in James 2:10 we read, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it”.

Absolute goodness requires an absolutely good being
If goodness were a relative concept, then logically it is possible to have a being that is both good and evil at the same time as it would be just a matter of expressing or repressing a quality. However, if goodness is defined as 100% compliance to an absolute moral law, then it is impossible to have a being both good and evil at the same time. You can either have a good being who follows the law perfectly or an evil being who misses the mark. If there is anyone who can follow the absolute moral law perfectly , it has to be the one who created the moral law, i.e. God. This line of thinking is affirmed by what Jesus says in Luke 18:19 that no one is good but God alone.

Goodness is about a higher purpose
In addition to the absolute moral law, another aspect of defining an act as good or evil is the overall purpose of the act. If God is good and is our Father, He cares that goodness be reflected in His children. If an earthly father always gave everything the child thought was good, the child would end up growing up to be an irresponsible adult. What the child may see as evil is of value in building character. So, God who created us knows what pressures are best to cause us to consider our limitations and recognize our need for a relationship with Him to bring about His good character in us. It’s based on truth of how He created us. We as humans have a limited perspective and may not see good behind God’s purposes but if we were to get His perspective (Is 46:10), we could agree with all His choices. When we don’t know how and why mankind came into existence, how could we possibly know what is good for us? Goodness need not be defined as path of least pain, especially if one day God promises to take away all pain.

God can be good and yet permit evil
Finally, there are several verses in the Bible that are like Isaiah 45:7, where God is considered to have brought about calamity. Gen 19 – destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Amos 3:6 – when disaster comes to a city, the Lord causes it, Job 1:6-12 – Satan permitted to destroy Job’s property and children, 2 Thess 2:11 – God sends delusion to those who refuse to accept truth. However, along with these, the Bible also says that God of all the earth is just and will do right (Gen 18:25). So taking these verses together, to be ‘good and just’ need not remove the possibility of creating or permitting evil according to the bible. It’s not an easy question to understand why God allows evil despite being good. We however know that He is so good that He sent His Son who willingly endured evil at the hands of his own creation. This in itself grants that there are other ways to respond to the question of evil being permitted than casting shadows on the goodness of God. A few lines of thought for answers are – wisdom of God, eternal perspective, free will of created beings and using evil toward good purposes. I am not sure what would be some good resources to study this topic further.

So in short, God is not the devil and evil is not just a degree of good. Look forward to hearing more from others. Great question!

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Thank you for your insight .

Thank you so much for your answer!
I also think the questioner was making a confusion between categories as Ravi said. At the same time I think we could also look at darkness as being a byproduct of the creation and more precisely of the manifestation of the created light and the direct and necessary result of whatever is not touched by light. Similarly with good and goodness, evil resulting to be whatever is not encompassed by that which is defined by the creator of the moral law as being good.
People often rush to conclusions because they cannot accept their position in relation to an Almighty God and the amount of information that needs processing and that comes with the acknowledgment of their limits in understanding the prerogatives of a limitless God.
Thanks again for the insightful answer.

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