I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
I make peace, and create evil. It is an unworthy forcing of Scripture to set this passage in relation to the insoluble difficulty of the origin of moral evil. Two things are often sadly confounded - evil as an unpleasant state of our circumstances; and evil as a wrong condition of our will. The latter is referable to God only in the sense that he gave to man a moral nature and a capacity of choice. The former view of evil is that alluded to in the passage now before us. It has been thought that the passage was written in view of the principles of Persian dualism. "The Magi taught that there are two coeternal supramundane beings - Ormazd, the pure and eternal principle of light, the source of all that is good; and Ahriman, the source of darkness, the fountain of all evil, both physical and moral. These two divide the empire of the world, and are in perpetual conflict with each other." Perhaps Isaiah deals here with evil and good as they are regarded by man, not as they are estimated by God. The "good" here is that which is pleasant; the "evil" is that which is painful; and the assertion is that both the pleasant and the painful are within the Divine controlling, and are forces used by God to secure certain high moral ends. "Darkness" represents the misery and woe of the exile; "light" represents the happy state to which Israel was to be restored through the agency of Cyrus.
I. THE TENDENCY TO THINK OF A SEPARATE SOURCE OF EVIL. So great are the disturbances of God's order through man's sin and wilfulness, that human life seems more full of calamities and anxieties than of blessings and good. This is man's impression, and he has ever been disposed to say, "The good God cannot send these calamities; they must have a source of their own." Men are always ready to make Ahrimans, Sivas, or Typhons, to explain the existence of physical evils.
IX. THE TENDENCY TO GIVE ALMOST EXCLUSIVE WORSHIP TO THE EVIL-GOD. To ward off evil seems to be a more pressing thing than to be good or to obtain good, and so the supreme effort is made to propitiate the evil-god. Illustrate by the heathen sailors in the boat with Jonah, exposed to storms. We even need to be most careful in our conceptions of Satan, lest a notion of his independence should divide our worship between him and Jehovah. He must be thought of as dependent on God, even as we.
III. THE INEVITABLE DEGRADATION OF HUMAN WORSHIP, UNDER. THIS CONDITION. The maintenance of high morality is found absolutely to depend on the jealous preservation of the truth of the Divine unity. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.