Comments on Verses from Prophets

Isaiah 45:7 “I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the LORD, who does all these things.”

With a broad look at commentaries on this verse, one may well come away confused. Even when we put the verse in the context of an argument to Cyrus, who is about to be used by God to do God’s will even though Cyrus does not know God. The major refrain in the passage then, is that there is no God other than Jehovah. Verse seven is offered as proof of this refrain. It is an explanation of the supreme power of God to order kings and nations as He sees fit.

It is the use of a certain combination of words that has the scholars scrambling for an explanation: light, darkness, well-being, and calamity. The ESV gives a different view by using these words as they seem to imply a translation commentary. For those who prefer the original words, this translation seems to muddle the waters. Light and darkness seem easy enough, but peace and evil seem more difficult.

One thing for certain, the four words offer two major contrasts. There is light versus darkness and peace versus evil. The major problem, of course, is assigning the creation of evil to God, who, of course, is seen as goodness or holiness and not the author of evil. If we follow the idea of absolute contrast, then evil doesn’t fit as well as something denoting the absence of peace, whether speaking of war or natural disaster. Without a doubt, God does use both of those to accomplish His purpose.

I want to take a different look at the passage because of the interesting choice of words Isaiah uses. First, there is the use of the word ‘form’ rather than create. God creates darkness but forms light.  A quick look at the two words: Yatzar to give form to a previously existing matter. Bara, to “create” from nothing the existing material. This is profound because it reminds us that light was not created since it was eternal in nature. God is light, and Jesus is light. But the light that lit the world prior to the suns was formed by God from His existing light. Where did the darkness come from? It had to be created because God was light, and in Him, there is no darkness. That was the end of the first day.

Three days later, on the fourth day, God made lights and arranged them so that the light and darkness could be divided. Here is a clue: darkness will always be considered the opposite of God because He is all light. The world then is good and bad, light and darkness.

What about the word ‘make’ (asah)? Peace is not created, it is accomplished, obtained, arranged, made. God says, “I do peace.” Interestingly, God forms light but creates darkness; He accomplishes peace but creates calamity.

Task for Today: This verse gives us a lot to chew on. What is the most basic thing to take with you today? In my opinion, Isaiah and God make it clear; “I am the LORD, who does these things,” and “I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no other.”

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