Did God create evil?


by Shawn Brasseaux

“I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things” (Isaiah 45:7). What does this mean, God “create[s] evil?” Is God responsible for evil? If God is holy (righteous), how can He be the origin of evil? We will search the Bible for the answers!

Isaiah 45:7 contains two sets of contrasts—“light versus darkness” and “peace versus evil.” Stated another way, “Darkness is to light and evil is to peace.” Evil in this sense is the antonym of “peace.” Thus, “evil” here means “trouble,” “hardship,” or “something bad.” Let me show you the other instances in the Bible in which “evil” is used in the sense of God causing bad things to happen, or about to cause bad things to happen, in response to sinners committing transgressions.

  • Exodus 32:12: “Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people.”
  • Exodus 32:14: “And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.”
  • Deuteronomy 31:17: “Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, Are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us?”
  • Deuteronomy 31:21: “And it shall come to pass, when many evils and troubles are befallen them, that this song shall testify against them as a witness; for it shall not be forgotten out of the mouths of their seed: for I know their imagination which they go about, even now, before I have brought them into the land which I sware.”
  • Deuteronomy 31:29: “For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days; because ye will do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger through the work of your hands.”
  • Joshua 23:15: “Therefore it shall come to pass, that as all good things are come upon you, which the LORD your God promised you; so shall the LORD bring upon you all evil things, until he have destroyed you from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you.”
  • 1 Samuel 6:9: “And see, if it goeth up by the way of his own coast to Beth-shemesh, then he hath done us this great evil: but if not, then we shall know that it is not his hand that smote us; it was a chance that happened to us.”
  • 1 Chronicles 21:15: “And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it: and as he was destroying, the LORD beheld, and he repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD stood by the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.”
  • 2 Chronicles 7:22: “And it shall be answered, Because they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, which brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods, and worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath he brought all this evil upon them.”
  • Jeremiah 1:14: “Then the LORD said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land.”
  • Jeremiah 4:6: “Set up the standard toward Zion: retire, stay not: for I will bring evil from the north, and a great destruction.”
  • Jeremiah 6:19: “Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it.”
  • Jeremiah 18:8: “If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.”
  • Jeremiah 19:3: “And say, Hear ye the word of the LORD, O kings of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem; Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, the which whosoever heareth, his ears shall tingle.”
  • Jeremiah 19:15: “Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring upon this city and upon all her towns all the evil that I have pronounced against it, because they have hardened their necks, that they might not hear my words.”
  • Jeremiah 32:23: “And they came in, and possessed it; but they obeyed not thy voice, neither walked in thy law; they have done nothing of all that thou commandedst them to do: therefore thou hast caused all this evil to come upon them:”
  • Jeremiah 32:42 “For thus saith the LORD; Like as I have brought all this great evil upon this people, so will I bring upon them all the good that I have promised them.”
  • Jeremiah 35:17: “Therefore thus saith the LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring upon Judah and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the evil that I have pronounced against them: because I have spoken unto them, but they have not heard; and I have called unto them, but they have not answered.”
  • Jeremiah 36:3: “It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do unto them; that they may return every man from his evil way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.”
  • Jeremiah 36:31: “And I will punish him and his seed and his servants for their iniquity; and I will bring upon them, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and upon the men of Judah, all the evil that I have pronounced against them; but they hearkened not.”
  • Jeremiah 39:16: “Go and speak to Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring my words upon this city for evil, and not for good; and they shall be accomplished in that day before thee.”
  • Jeremiah 40:2-3: “[2] And the captain of the guard took Jeremiah, and said unto him, The LORD thy God hath pronounced this evil upon this place. [3] Now the LORD hath brought it, and done according as he hath said: because ye have sinned against the LORD, and have not obeyed his voice, therefore this thing is come upon you.”
  • Jeremiah 49:37: “For I will cause Elam to be dismayed before their enemies, and before them that seek their life: and I will bring evil upon them, even my fierce anger, saith the LORD; and I will send the sword after them, till I have consumed them:”
  • Ezekiel 6:10: “And they shall know that I am the LORD, and that I have not said in vain that I would do this evil unto them.”

When the Bible talks about God “creating evil,” “bringing evil,” and “doing evil,” it is not about Him committing sin or causing sin to come into existence. It is rather talking about Him righteously judging man’s sins. Whenever man commits evil, God will act accordingly and punish the wrongdoer or wrongdoers. In the Old Testament especially, He brought upon the sinners trouble, hardship, or bad things. It is not complicated, dear friends!

Also see:
» Does God chastise us when we sin?
» Why does God let Satan exist?
» How can a loving God send people to hell forever?