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October 7

Isaiah 43:14-28; Philippians 2

Thought from Today's Old Testament Passage:

Isaiah 45:7: "I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things."

The evil spoken of in this text… refers to natural evil and not moral evil. Natural evil is seen in the volcano eruption, plague, earthquake, destructive fire. It is God who must allow (and that is the proper term) these calamities to come. And isn't a God who allows natural disasters thereby morally evil?

To pose the question in this manner is to ask for the origins of evil. Christianity has more than answered the problem of the presence of evil (for that is the whole message of the cross) and the problem of the outcome of evil (for Christ's resurrection demonstrates that God can beat out even the last enemy and greatest evil, death itself). But Christianity's most difficult question is the origin of evil. Why did God ever allow "that stuff" in the first place?

Augustine taught us, however, that evil is not a substance. It is, as it were, a by-product of our freedom, and especially our sin. The effects of that sin did not fall solely on the world of humans. Unfortunately, its debilitating effects hit the whole natural world as well. Nevertheless, it is not as if God can do nothing or that he is just as surprised as we are by natural evil. Any disaster must fall within the sovereign will of God, even though God is not the sponsor or author of that evil. It is at this point that we begin to invade the realms of divine mystery when we attempt to harmonize both of these statements.

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Hard Sayings of the Old Testament (Downer's Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), pp. 195-96.

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