“I form light and create darkness,
I make well-being and create calamity,
I am the Lord, who does all these things.”
I tell you what, this is a verse that will get a lot of heads spinning.
Calamity: an event causing great and often sudden damage or distress; a disaster.
This is tucked into a warning delivered by the prophet Isaiah to Cyrus, the king of Persia, a century and a half before the king was even born. That king, Cyrus, was to gather and return the remnant of Israel (those whom God made faithful) back to their homeland. Good guy, right? Well, let’s just say that bringing the Jews back home didn’t solve Babylon’s problems. You can’t find it on a map today.
This king was like many others, hungry to conquer, and he did. He conquered Babylon while the Jews were in captivity. Cyrus was hand-picked by God for a very special purpose:
Isaiah 44:28 who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd, and he shall fulfill all my purpose’; saying of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be built,’ and of the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid.’”
And so, it happened, just as Isaiah had prophesized. This is interesting, because back a few chapters, Isaiah gave another message – about the nature of prophecy – to those who worship false gods:
Isaiah 41:23 Tell us what is to come hereafter, that we may know that you are gods; do good, or do harm, that we may be dismayed and terrified.
The fact is that God alone is able to tell us what is to pass before it happens. God makes a point of challenging others to prove themselves by doing the same; they can’t.
Apparently, another thing that God was aware of was Cyrus’s inclination to take full credit for his conquests and deeds. At the end of chapter 44 and of chapter 45, God makes it clear that He himself is the one that is using Cyrus as a tool. Cyrus is nothing apart from God. In fact, this whole thing reminds me of the dressing-down that God gave to Job.
But the verse that we are talking about today is the one at the top of this page, that God is the one who makes well-being and creates calamity. Does God mean that he created just the particular well-being and calamity that Cyrus was involved with, or does he mean that he creates ALL well-being and calamity? I think it’s reasonable to assume all.
Wrap your head around that one! God creates calamity? I thought Satan was the one who does that! Cyrus was simply a tool of God’s, which God made perfectly clear. Is Satan a tool as well?
Wait a minute.
Listen to God’s job description for Cyrus:
v. 45:1 Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped, to subdue nations before him and to loose the belts of kings, to open doors before him that gates may not be closed:
Cyrus is anointed. God grasped Cyrus’ right hand so that he would subdue nations. Cyrus didn’t subdue with speech or a pen. He subdued with a sword and fire. Calamity.
Yet, Babylon was destroyed as God decreed. Apparently, righteous calamity can be twisted and made sin. This a king and his people will be held accountable for, again, as God foretells.
v. 47:6, 10-11 I was angry with my people; I profaned my heritage; I gave them into your hand; you showed them no mercy; on the aged you made your yoke exceedingly heavy….You felt secure in your wickedness, you said, “No one sees me”; your wisdom and your knowledge led you astray, and you said in your heart, “I am, and there is no one besides me.” But evil shall come upon you, which you will not know how to charm away; disaster shall fall upon you, for which you will not be able to atone; and ruin shall come upon you suddenly, of which you know nothing.
Calamity. God is clear about this.
Do we see calamity today? Yes, we do. Is God behind calamity in our day? Many in our churches today would scoff at the idea of this. Why? Because it doesn’t fit the idea we have of Jesus. We feel that there was a severing of the Old Testament and the New, that all that business of wrath was the old God, but Jesus has changed all this.
I’m not so sure about that. I see very little difference between the Old and New Testaments. Both have a Savior that is incredibly gracious, generous, and willing to forgive yet at the same time swift and final in his judgment. Isn’t there lots of calamity in Revelation?
I don’t have all the answers. All I know is that I read that God says he is the one who makes well-being and creates calamity. This is a tough verse. Can’t scribble this one out of the bible.
Father teach us. We want to know all of you, not just part of you. How can we know you if we refuse to explore these tough verses?
Copyright © 2019 Scott Powers