By Femi Aribisala
Jesus’ disciples asked him about a man blind from birth: “who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2).
They assum-ed evil is always caused by sin. However, Jesus says different. He says God creates evil for his own purposes: “Neither has this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God might be revealed in him.” (John 9:3).
Jesus reiterates this when he was told Lazarus was sick: “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified thr-ough it.” (John 11:4). In effect, God creates sickness so he would be glorified in healing it.
This view conforms to Paul’s position that: “all things were created by (God) and for him.” (Colossians 1:16).
Creator and healer
Make no mistake about it, it is God that afflicts the sick with diseases: “The LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and it became ill.” (II Sam-uel 12:15). “The LORD struck the king, so that he was a leper until the day of his death. (II Kings 15:5). “The LORD struck Jeho-ram with an incurable stomach disease.” (II Chronicles 21:18).
God is also the healer of sick-ness. He explains this to Israel: “I am the LORD your God, and I cure your diseases. If you obey me by doing right and by follow-ing my laws and teachings, I won’t punish you with the dis-eases I sent on the Egyptians.” (Exodus 15:26).
Note that God admits here he is the one who sends diseases to the sick.
God says to Moses: “I will be gracious to whom I will be gra-cious, and will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.” (Exodus 33:19). Accordingly, he makes some people sick and others well. He also makes some peo-ple good and others evil.
This is exemplified by Pharaoh, the evil king of Egypt. God hard-ened his heart so he would be destroyed. He says: “For this purpose I have raised you up, that I may show my power in you, and that my name may be declared in all the earth.” (Exodus 9:16).
This will of God was fulfilled when Pharaoh’s recalcitrant army ended up at the bottom of the Red Sea. Accordingly, the psalmist says to God: “Human defiance only enhances your glory, for you use it as a wea-pon.” (Psalm 76:10).
Paul joins stridently in this de-bate: “Everything depends on what God decides to do, and he can either have pity on peo-ple or make them stubborn. Someone may ask, ‘How can God blame us, if he makes us behave in the way he wants us to?’ But, my friend, I ask, ‘Who do you think you are to quest-ion God? Does the clay have the right to ask the potter why he shaped it the way he did? Does-n’t a potter have the right to make a fancy bowl and a plain bowl out of the same lump of clay?’
“God wanted to show his anger and reveal his power against everyone who deserved to be destroyed. But instead, he patiently put up with them. He did this by showing how glorious he is when he has pity on the people he has chosen to share in his glory.” (Romans 9:18-23).
God creates evil in order to glo-rify his name. He brings evil into the world that he may be glorif-ied in overcoming it. When Moses asked to see the glory of God, the Lord proclaimed it to him: “Jehovah! Jehovah God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.” (Exodus 34:6).
These attributes of God shine ever so brightly in the midst of the evil in this world. They en-sure that evil brings glory to the God who saves from evil, re-deems from evil and restores from evil. God does not create good out of good. He creates good out of evil.
Jesus says: “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Revelation 22:13). Since God himself is good and not evil, and since God is the ending of everything, the end of all evil is good. That is “the law of circul-arity,” whereby everything be-gins and ends with God. The glory of God then lies in his contradiction of evil. All the evil in this world will ultimately succumb to the goodness of God.
In effect, God limits, restrains and overrules the effects of the evil he creates, ultimately using it for good. This is “the 50:20 principle” exemplified in the life of Joseph. He was thrown down a well, sold into slavery, beca-me an indentured servant and was then sent to jail. But each affliction only moved him one step closer to the great future God had in store for him. He ended up as prime-minister of Egypt.
When, as prime-minister, he finally confronts his wicked bro-thers who sold him into slavery, he says to them: “It was not you who sent me here, but God.” (Genesis 45:8). “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis: 50 20).
Therefore, believers should take this assurance of God to the bank: “All things work to-gether for good to those who love God, to those who are call-ed according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28).
Evil is a veritable instrument of salvation. The prime example, of course, is the evil Jesus en-dured at Calvary. “In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything ex-ists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.” (Hebrews 2:10).
Without evil, we cannot be made perfect. To be like Jesus, we must overcome this evil world. (Revelation 21:7).
Jesus maintains evil is a necess-ary feature of life: “Each day has enough evil of its own.” (Matthew 6:34). It was God who planted the tree of good and evil in the Garden of Eden. It is God him-self, and not the enemy, that sets evil before us. (Deuteron-omy 30:19). He does this, not for our injury, but for our benefit: “For our light and momentary troubles are achiev-ing for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (II Corinthians 4:17).
We need trouble so the power of Christ in deliverance and sal-vation may be revealed in us. (John 9:1-3). We need evil, in order to partake of God’s divine nature in overcoming it. For this reason, God will not short-change us in the amount of evil we have to face but will make sure we have just the right amount we need.
However, believers have this assurance: “The Lord will deliver (us) from every evil work and preserve (us) for his heavenly kingdom. (II Timothy 4:18).
Evil then constitute mere hurdles in the steeplechase of life. When the race is run and the books tallied, we will fully understand God’s grand design and know he allowed evil for noble reasons. Thereafter, all evil will be abolished.
Jesus says: “In the world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).
(Next week: “The Devil is a Servant of God.”)