The Issue of Evil 102: What is Evil?

Our last session was really intense. The whole issue of God doing evil… confusing!
However, I showed where God (by Himself) said that He creates evil (Isaiah 45:7), and demonstrated it by planting the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil

Since He said it himself, I can’t go up to Him and tell him. “Almighty Pops, I think you’re wrong on that one.”

Job understood that perfectly. He said God did Him evil. And God didn’t disagree.

But wait?! Wasn’t Satan the one who did it? Umm, who gave Him the permission? God bears full responsibility for that. Besides, it was stated here later in the Book of Job:

“Then came there unto him all his brethren, and all his sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance before, and did eat bread with him in his house: and they bemoaned him, and comforted him over ALL THE EVIL that the LORD had brought upon him: every man also gave him a piece of money, and every one an earring of gold.” 

(Job 42:11)

God does evil. But We all know that God cannot sin. How then can He do evil and not sin? That’s the mystery we are going to examine during the length of this series. 

There are some important things (spoilers) I want to note about Evil before we begin:

– Evil is NOT exactly the same as sin.
– Evil, on its own, is neutral and has no connection to morality.

– Evil can be used in a moral sense depending on three main factors:
The User.
• The Method.
• The Purpose.

EVIL IS BAD 

The original Hebrew word for evil is “râ’âh / râ’ / ro/ ero.” Any of these will do.

What does Evil signify?

Let’s start from the beginning. God planted the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

However, Good and Evil have always been contrary to each other. Good and evil have always been on the opposite sides of each other. 

What is Evil generally ?


Evil is the opposite of good.

It’s that simple. That is the basic definition. If something is contrary to being good, then it’s evil.

If a particular food or water contrary to being good, then it’s evil. You’ll see why in a second:

In the book of 2 Kings, the people of Jericho complained to the prophet Elisha about their water source.

Now the men of the city said to Elisha, “Behold, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord sees, but the water is bad (râ’ah), and the land is unfruitful.”

 (2 Kings 2:19 ESV).

The water was bad. It was sour and very unhygienic – caused diseases. Elisha healed it by pouring salt under divine instruction.
What’s my point here?

The water was not human. The water couldn’t sin. Yet the water was evil.The Word râ’âh was translated as bad or naught (in KJV). If food or water went bad, it was called evil. Why? It wasn’t good or pleasant. It was the opposite of good. That is generally what Evil is. In this case, evil had no relation to sin. Did it ?


Evil Cows 

Our Next example is the famous story of Joseph and how He interpreted Pharaoh’s scary dream. The Word “ra’ah” (evil) is seen there.

Joseph narrates Pharaoh’s dream:

After two whole years, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing by the Nile,
and behold, there came up out of the Nile seven cows attractive and plump, and they fed in the reed grass…

Let me pause here to make a commentary. Pharaoh saw seven attractive and plumb cows. They had the features of a well-nurtured cow that was good for consumption, sale and milk production. Let’s see what continued:

And behold, seven other cows, ugly (râ’âh) and thin, came up out of the Nile after them, and stood by the other cows on the bank of the Nile.

(Genesis 41:1-3 ESV)

The KJV referred to “ugly” as “ill (râ’âh) favoured.” These cows were the exact opposite of the amazing (good) seven cows pharaoh admired in his dream. They were not good/pleasant for consumption, sale etc. They were bad. They were evil.

Evil was used in this case too. Unless cows sin, evil here has no connection to sin or morality. It simply means bad or not pleasant.


Evil Sacrifice 

This was used in the Bible concerning sacrificing unfit (deformed) animals:

And if there be any blemish therein, as if it be lame, or blind, or have any ill (râ’âh) blemish, thou shalt not sacrifice it unto the LORD thy God. 

(Deuteronomy 15:21 KJV)


Bad Time to Be Sad

If a person’s countenance is not good, happy or cheerful? What then could it be? It could be Evil or sad. Bro, why would you even think in such a manner? Someone may ask me.

Well, the Bible started it.
The King noticed Nehemiah’s sad countenance (expression) and he asked Nehemiah about it:

“Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad (râ’âh), seeing thou art not sick?this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid.”

            Nehemiah 2:2 KJV

Nehemiah was not in a good mood.  He even looked sick. The king saw that from his sad demeanor and asked him about it. The Word translated as “sad” was “râ’âh,” the same word for evil. Thus, from the Hebrew/Biblical perspective, Nehemiah was in an evil mood. Was Nehemiah sinning in that state? Nada! 

He was sad because of what he found out about his city. That sadness was a burden which eventually became His calling to go back home and rebuild the walls of his city.


Conclusion

From all these examples, we can take note of the term “evil”  having no connection to sin or morality.

Evil, in this case, can be described at best as something that is not good (bad) or not pleasant.

Our time’s up for now. In our next session, I’m going to show you another side of evil and then maybe we can finally find out what sin is and then begin to connect the dots. You can’t miss out on this!

Shalom!!

                  Uche Okorie 

  

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