I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. (Isa. 45:7)
The key to understanding this statement and other similar statements found in the Old Testament can be found in Exodus 19:8 and Exodus 24:3, 7.
And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD. (Ex. 19:8)
And Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the LORD hath said will we do. (Ex. 24:3)
And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient. (Ex. 24:7)
In Exodus 19, God promised that if Israel would obey Him, they would be to Him a peculiar treasure above all people. The people agreed to God’s words. God then proceeded to give the Law to Moses with the blessings and judgments. When Moses returned from the mount and read the words of the Lord and the judgments, the people again agreed to the covenant. In Ex. 24:7, they again agreed to the covenant.
In so doing, they had authorized God to fulfill the words of His covenant with them. They were to be blessed for obedience and cursed for disobedience (Read Deut. 28). Each disobedience obligated God to act accordingly. He had given His Word and the people had given their word.
From that moment on in the Old Testament, when we see the judgments of God on Israel and hear His pronouncements about ‘creating evil,’ it must always be understood within the context of the covenant that Israel had agreed to. God was ‘creating’ evil for them through judgment. He was not revealing His attributes toward the world, or contradicting the revelation of Himself that we have in Jesus. He was simply keeping His obligation to judge Israel for their idolatry and disobedience.
The passage does not refer to God’s ways or character apart from that specific context. When God says that He creates evil in Isaiah 45, it is speaking of the adversity prepared for Judah for having separated themselves from Him and His Word. It does not mean that God is the author of evil and darkness for the entire world.
“ . . . shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?” (Amos 3:6)
Amos 3:6 is a similar situation. It must be understood within the context of the Law of Moses. God and Israel had made a covenant that included judgment and curses for disobedience.
The complete revelation of the New Testament reveals that God cannot be tempted with evil nor does He tempt any man. (James 1:13). James 1:17 reveals the true nature of God, that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
Those who would attribute evil to God, or even attempt to call down evil from God were rebuked by Jesus. “For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” (Luke 9:56)
God is not the author if evil. Israel’s disobedience to God released the judgment of the old covenant. Thank God that covenant is finished and we have a better covenant established upon better promises! (Heb. 8:6)