This one is Isaiah 45:7: “I form the light and create darkness. I make peace and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.” This is a verse that many people do not know is in the Bible. Its sentiment shocks them. They think that God could not have created evil. But this is precisely what the Bible says, and it has a direct bearing on the doctrine of predestination.
Some people who do not wish to extend God’s power over evil things, and particularly over moral evils, try to say that the word evil here means such natural evils as earthquakes and storms. The Scofield Bible notes that the Hebrew word here, ‘ra’, is never translated sin. This is true. The editors of the Bible must have looked at every instance of ‘ra‘ in the Old Testament and must have seen that it is never translated sin in the King James Version. But what the note does not say is that it is often translated wickedness, as in Genesis 6:5, “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the Earth.” In fact, ‘ra’ is translated wickedness at least fifty times in the Old Testament; and it refers to a variety of ugly sins. The Bible therefore explicitly teaches that God creates sin. (Gordon Clark. Predestination. The Trinity Foundation. 1987. p. 18)
Clark’s method here is simply to establish that ‘sin’ is within the range of possible meanings for ‘ra‘ and then assume, without further analysis, that ‘ra‘ must be understood as sin. Here’s the full context of the passage:
Isaiah 45: 1Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut; 2I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron: 3And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel. 4For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me. 5I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: 6That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else. 7I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
I am using the KJV because substantially every modern translation including the NKJV translates ‘ra‘ as calamity, not evil. That alone should give us pause in accepting Clark’s account, but we will carry on.
Isaiah prophesies about the Medes and Persians’ conquest of the Babylonians and delivery of Israel out of Babylonian captivity. It was given at lest 200 years before Cyrus’s birth, yet Cyrus is mentioned by name. This prophecy is the primary evidence God brings forth in a sequence of ‘trial speeches’, where God shows He is God and foreign gods are nothing. In verse 7, evil is in contrast to peace and so refers to the conquest and overthrow of Babylon by Cyrus.
In chapter 47, evil is a punishment God is bringing against the Babylonians in the form of the Median/Persian conquest and this punishment may well be the sense in 45:7 as well.
47:10 For thou hast trusted in thy wickedness: thou hast said , None seeth me. Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee; and thou hast said in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me. 11 Therefore shall evil come upon thee; thou shalt not know from whence it riseth: and mischief shall fall upon thee; thou shalt not be able to put it off : and desolation shall come upon thee suddenly, which thou shalt not know.
“War” and “punishment via war” are contextually superior understandings of ‘ra’ than “sin”. Yet for some reason Clark rashly runs headlong into saying “God creates sin”. Of course, the Genesis account records “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.” Whatever God creates is good because He is good.