TODAY’S READING: ISAIAH 44-46
“I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the Lord, who does all these things.” – Isaiah 45:7
Does God create darkness?
Perhaps you think I just asked a really stupid question given what Isaiah 45:7 says. But, I’m seriously asking the question.
Why do I ask this?
I was in discussion once where I was claiming that God was good and only good, that God never did anything evil or bad, and that God never destroys. I claimed that every evil act, every destructive act was a work of Satan.
I could see one person go to the concordance of their Bible. This person then read to me Isaiah 45:7 – “I form light and create darkness; I make well being and create; I am the Lord, who does all these things.” This person then said that, paraphrasing, “See, it says right there that God brings about darkness and calamity, bad things and destruction.”
My response was simply, “I don’t think you know what creates mean.”
This person was assigning the cause of darkness and calamity to God. Therefore, God creates it. In our minds, to create something is to get your hands on it and bring it into existence. But, this is not how the Bible uses the word create.
God is the only one that creates in the Bible. Period.
To create is to give purpose and function to something.
Let me show what I mean.
Isaiah 45:18 says, “For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it, he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!): I am the Lord, and there is no other.”
In this verse, we have the words create, form, and make. We tend to think of these words as synonymous, as basically meaning the same thing, but they are three different words in the Hebrew. And, create (the Hebrew word bara) has a different meaning from the words for form and make. We can see this in the context of this verse.
Let’s look at what God does to the earth. He formed the earth and made it. The word for form basically means to form, fashion, forge. The word for make basically means to make, manufacture, do. These words imply getting your hands on something and shaping it, forming it, making it, and bringing it into reality. Just like if I was going to take some wood, some glue, some nails, some fabric and make a chair.
But, God did not create the earth empty. This harkens back to Genesis 1:2, which says, “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep.” If something is without form and void, then it is empty, without purpose. But, God did not create the earth empty. He created the earth, God gave it a purpose.
What was the purpose God gave it?
He formed (he Got his hands on it and did something with it) to be inhabited.
Later in Genesis 1:27, it says that God created man., which is to say he is giving man a function. Then, in verse 28, God says what that function is – to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth, etc. Genesis 1 is all about the function of creation.
But, then Genesis 2 tells us how God made man. Once he had given man a function, God then had to form man to function the way that he wanted. Genesis 2:7 says, “Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.”
So, the Bible shows that there is a difference between creating and forming. Again, creating is about giving a purpose or function to something.
So, Isaiah 45:7 says that God forms light and creates darkness, makes well-being and creates calamity. I believe what this is really saying is that God gets his hands on, shapes, fashions, forms, and brings to fruition light and well-being. He is actively involved in bringing those about.
However, when it comes to darkness and calamity, God gives them a purpose or function. God doesn’t cause darkness and calamity. God doesn’t bring about darkness and calamity. However, he does cause them to have a purpose.
You may think I am trying to split hairs and make the Bible say something that it does not. You may think that I am trying to pick and choose what I want to believe about God. But, the New Testament states, in different words of course, everything I have just said.
And, all we have to do is to look to Jesus to see that.
John 1:1-5 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
John says that Jesus is the light of men, the light of the world. Jesus, and therefore God, is light. John says exactly this in 1 John 1:5, which says, “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”
God is light. It is not that God’s acts are light or that he does light. No, God is light. And if you are something, then you cannot do the opposite of that. If you are light, then you cannot do, act, form or make darkness.
So the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. God forms the light, Jesus, and he shines in the darkness. The darkness cannot overcome the light, meaning that the light removes the darkness. The darkness was given a purpose, which is to show the brilliance of the light.
Good exposes evil. Light exposes darkness. But, one who is light cannot make darkness and evil. Jesus said in John 3:19-21, “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
Perhaps we should look at a real example of this. John 9:1-7 says, “As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We just work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’ Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.”
The man was blind. Therefore, he was in darkness. The disciples want to know who caused this man to be in darkness. Who is responsible for this? Who made it happen?
But, Jesus answered in a way that said it is not important who caused the darkness that his man was in. And, Jesus is most certainly saying that God did not cause or make this man in the darkness from his birth.
However, this man was in darkness “that the works of God might be displayed in him.” The man’s blindness, his darkness, was going to be given a purpose, which was to display the works of God, specifically God’s light. We must notice how Jesus works into his answer “I am the light of the world.” This passage is about light and darkness.
So, what does Jesus do?
He spits on the ground, makes mud, puts it on the man’s eyes, and makes the man to see. Do you notice how this refers back to Genesis 2:7 when God formed Adam. God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. God and Jesus took dust and the ground. God breathed into the dust and Jesus spit into the ground. God’s work made the man a living being and Jesus’ work made the man to see, or have light.
Jesus formed light in this man, giving his darkness a purpose. Or, as Isaiah 45:7 says, “I form light and create darkness.”
All of this is exactly what Romans 8:28 is getting at. The verse says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
God does not cause all things. God does not cause the evil things in our life. He does not cause darkness in our lives. However, God works all things together for good. He gives the darkness, our blindness, a purpose. Therefore, God creates darkness. He works it together into good.
Romans 8:29-30 says that purpose, that good, is that we will be conformed to the image of Jesus and be glorified.
So, does God create darkness?
Only if we understand God’s creating as giving a function or purpose to darkness, which is that his works, his light, might be displayed.
Therefore, “Let there be light, and there was light. And God saw the that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.” (Genesis 1:3-4)
“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6)