How Can We Say God Is Good When the Bible Says the Lord Created Evil?

      A few months ago, we did an event called Skeptics Welcome. The idea was that people could come and ask a panel of two pastors their questions about the Christian faith. One of the questions that I thought was the most challenging was “How can we say God is good when the Bible says the Lord created evil?” The writer of the question then offered the reference Isaiah 45:7. We read the King James Version translation out loud.  
Isaiah 45:7 KJV
I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
      My answer was basically that I should study this question more; but my initial response is that God gave humans a precious, yet dangerous gift called free will. By giving us free will God created the possibility of evil, although no one was forced to open that door. In the garden of Eden God gave Adam and Eve one rule. Do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Once Eve and then Adam broke the one law then full-blown evil existed. Once the first couple walked through that door all kinds of evil invaded God’s good creation. Things like dodging responsibility—Adam blaming Eve and even God. And Eve blaming the serpent. Possibilities like murder were introduced to the world when Cain murdered Abel. With sin entering the world creation itself is now broken and marred. 
      God did not want there to be evil. He desired only good for us, but he wanted us to be free, not to be like robots.  That freedom came with a high price and whether we agree or not God thought it was worth it.  
      After studying this passage, I learned that there is another legitimate way to translate this verse. The New International Version says:
Isaiah 45:7 NIV
I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.
      While I do not claim to be a Hebrew expert, I prefer this translation (possibly because it is a lot easier to deal with). God does allow or send disaster if that is what we need. There are times humanity needs calamity. One dramatic example is the flood. Humanity had so embraced depravity that God wanted to start over. Mankind was still sinful afterward but there was a second, better start.
      A life marked by disaster in which we can still see God bringing forth great good is the life of Joseph in the book of Genesis. He grew up in a massively dysfunctional family. His father was married to two sisters who fought for his affection. His father blatantly favored one wife and in addition favored her two boys, Joseph being one of those boys. But then because of jealousy Joseph’s half-brothers sold him into slavery and he ended up in Egypt.  Then he faithfully served his master only to be falsely accused of trying to take sexual advantage of the master’s wife. He was then unjustly jailed. As he served faithfully in jail he meets two officials of Pharoah, the king. They had dreams that Joseph interpreted. The one who went back to Pharoah’s palace and promised to tell Pharoah about Joseph forgot about him. Later we see that official remembering Joseph and introducing him to the Pharoah when the king had a disturbing dream. Eventually Joseph becomes the prime minister of Egypt and through his planning he saves the Egyptians and even his own family.  Great disaster came into Joseph’s life repeatedly. I am sure it felt like a dead end to Joseph, but in reality-it was a divine detour that led to the saving of many lives. 
       God is both holy and sovereign. He is always working, through the difficulties of our lives, for our good.  The cross is the ultimate example. From the perspective of the apostles Jesus dying on the cross was terrifying, a horrible disaster. But the Scripture makes it clear that Jesus dying on the cross was the plan for God to deal with human sinfulness. The brutal violence of the cross was the means by which hope and heaven can be offered to humanity.
       God is good despite creating the possibility of evil that humanity actualized. 
Pastor Derek Dickinson
Journey Christian Church