Many people have this question:
"Why is there so much suffering in this world and why doesn't God do something about it? And: where does all this evil come from?"
In this study we will take a look at how the question of the source of evil can be answered, using Biblical means.
The solution many people have, when they take a look at all the horrible things that happen in the world, is: "The devil is the source of all this!"
One of the reasons people will give is: the devil is a fallen angel! And they will probably come with a text from Isaiah 14:12, where it says:
"How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!"
But does this speak of an angel that has fallen? No, not at all!
This section of Isaiah deals with:
"That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased!"
It is against the King of Babylon that this proverb is spoken!! Its is he who has said (in verse 13):
" For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God...."
This has nothing to do with an angel that has fallen; it has nothing to do with the devil. The devil was already in heaven; the king here wanted to go there and place his throne above the stars.
Another text that is often used to claim that the devil was once an angel, living next to God, is Ezekiël 28. But here again we find that the original Hebrew text tells us that it is not about a person that was once in heaven! Ezekiël 28:2 tells us:
"yet thou art a man, and not God,...." We are reading about a man here, the King of Tyre. Keep that in mind as we go further into this passage.
Later in this chapter we see in 28:13
"13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.
14 Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.
15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee."
Most Bible scholars say here, based on this poor translation, that this is obviously written about the devil, for a. he was in the Garden of Eden and b. he was a cherub (at least that is what they assume). But you must have noticed something. Remember verse 2? That verse spoke about a man! And now? The story just continued and now this man has suddenly changed into a fallen angel? This can't be right.
What does a far better translation bring into the light, here? The Concordant translation shows us that not the cherub is the subject, but it is still the man of verse 2 who is the one we are talking about! He was (in Adam - we all are "in Adam") in the Garden! And it was he who was found to be so beautiful! Of course he was! Adam was made in the image of God!
But what about this cherub then?
Go to Genesis and read the story of how Adam sinned and was removed from the Garden. Then you will notice what the cherub's role in this event was:
"23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
See? The Cherubim were angels that stood guard so that Adam and Eve could not return to the Garden. The iniquity that is spoken of in Ezekiël 28:15 is not the iniquity of the cherub, but of Adam!
24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
For a better insight, please read the text of Ezekiël 28:12-19, as given in the Concordant Version:
"12 Son of humanity, lift a dirge over the king of Tyre,
And you will say to him, Thus says my Lord Ieue:
You are a seal-imprint of a model,
Full of wisdom and consummate in loveliness.
13 In the luxury of the garden of Alueim
you come to be.
Of every precious stone is your boothlike pavilion,
Carnelian, peridot and diamond, topaz, onyx,
And jasper, sapphire, carbuncle and emerald.
And with gold have you filled the shoulders of your pavilion,
And your alcoves which are in you.
In the day of your creation they established
14 the anointed cherub's booth.
And I bestow you in the holy mountain of Alueim.
You come to be in the midst of the fiery stones.
15 You walk flawless in your ways
From the day of your creation,
Till iniquity is found in you
16 in the increase of your trading.
They fill your midst with violence,
and you are sinning
And I will violate you from the mountain of Elohim,
And destroying you is the cherubim of the booth.
We have now seen that the devil is not a fallen angel, but what is he then? Is he a second power, next to God? No, that is unthinkable!
" that thou mayest know that there is none like unto the LORD our God.
"I am the LORD, and there is none else."
There is only one God, there isn't a second one. There is also no other Creator but God, Who created through His Word, now known as our Lord, Christ Jesus:
"For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him"
Did you read it? "All things" were created by Him. ALL! So also all powers and thrones, even the devil! And they were all created for their specific purpose: to be what they are. In the case of the devil: opponent, slanderer.
There is no other solution! The devil plays a role in God's Plan and, one must say, does that very well.
I can understand that you are now staggering, but wait a little longer before you stop reading.
The logical conclusion must also be that, if the devil is a creature made for that exact purpose, then the evil he does, must also have been created by God. Yes, it gets worse! God created evil!
Come with me again to the first book in the Bible, Genesis. Here we see God bringing Adam into the Garden of Eden. In the Garden, Adam finds all kinds of plants and trees. But there is one very special tree from which Adam and Eve are not allowed to eat: the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Good AND evil. Now remember that we are on a very fresh, new earth; no sin had been done, yet. Who made that tree? The answer is: God! He planted it there. So God must at least have known about evil! But it was not only "known", God created evil! A staggering thought, but a true one. We can find confirmation of that in Isaiah 45:7
"I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things."
Notice the emphasis on "I"!
Amazing, isn't it?? It is in the Bible!! It is God Who created evil!!! It wasn't the devil who did it! By giving credit to the devil for creating and executing evil, we give him far too much honor!!
Oh, the devil has a role, sure he does! God made him to be His opponent, to be the slanderer!! He is God's executive for evil.
How then, does it work?
For a good example we have to go to the book of Job and read in chapter 1:
"6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.
7 And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.
8 And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?
9 Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?
10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.
11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.
12 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD."
Did you see? The devil plays the role here of opponent of the slanderer. Job is a fine man, upright and God fearing. The devil had noticed that and asks God to bring Job into circumstances that will cause him to curse God. But can the devil, on his own, bring Job so far that he does this? No, the devil needs God's permission to do so! The devil cannot do anything without God willing and approving it! And that is still the case today, nothing has changed. The devil just cannot touch you unless God approves! And when He approves it has a purpose in His Plan, otherwise it will not happen.
Now that we have seen that the origin of evil comes from God, we must answer a couple of questions. The most important one is: WHY????
The fact that God found it necessary to create evil should make it easier for us to accept it, because if God has created it, He must have a goal for it! And when God does something, in the end it will always have a positive effect (even if it takes a long time).
What is that goal? W.H.Walker wrote this about it:
"Evil is a means to a further end, the dark background which God is using for the display of Himself, and for securing the glory of His own name. Evil is as much of God as is good, and through evil, God is working out good, triumphing over evil with good, and better than that, at last He will put good in the place of evil."
That is how simple it is, it is a means to a further end. Evil, in the end, brings us closer to Him! Through evil we learn of God's love. Evil first leads us away from Him, so that, when we are far away from Him, He will be able to use His love to bring us back to Him. In the meantime, we experience being cut of from Him and how that feels and makes us unhappy and miserable. We learn that we cannot live without His presence and we learn that we, creatures, are totally dependent on Him! Using our own imperfect ways, we try to mend the break, but we fail to achieve our goal.
It was God's love, through the death of His Son on the cross, that has mended the breach and made it possible that, in the end and through judgments, all creatures that ever lived will be able to come back to Him and He will become All in all (1Cor. 15:28)
Many people (and amongst them many Christians) are puzzled by the ongoing horror and suffering in the world. They ask the question: "Why doesn't God act now?".
In God's Plan of the eons it is necessary that mankind has had the opportunity to explore all possible ways to reconnect to God in their own power, and to make heaven on earth by their own means. God allows us to do that even to the very last millimeter! Then, when mankind finally has realized that it is impossible to achieve that goal, then God will act. But until then, God cannot act, otherwise His great Plan would fail. If there is even one path not walked on, or one stone not turned over by mankind that "could" lead to victory, then there will always be the complaint that mankind did not get every chance available. But God will have given us every opportunity and we will not be able to complain. Mankind will even have accepted the devil as their leader!
So the evil, the horror and suffering will continue until all this is finished and then God will step in. But until then, He has given us a great promise, that when all is said and done, on the new earth that one day will come, the devil will no longer be on duty and evil will be abolished. It has no more function. Evil will have done its job.
"... God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."