Does God create disaster?

I was reading through Isaiah the other day and I came across a section of the text that was a bit concerning. The text is Isaiah 45, a text which affirms the sovereignty of God. The text reads thusly:

I am the Lord, and there is no other;
apart from me there is no God.
I will strengthen you,
though you have not acknowledged me,
so that from the rising of the sun
to the place of its setting
people may know there is none besides me.
I am the Lord and there is no other.
I form the light and create darkness,
I bring prosperity and create disaster;
I, the Lord, do all these things.

I have a pretty intelligent readership. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Does God really mean what He says here? In light of the disasters of Katrina, Rita & Wilma, should we rail against God as the creator of these disasters? How do we make sense of this “hard saying”?

Comments, please.

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6 Responses to Does God create disaster?

  1. scott says:

    I think in the context it means that God brings forth the disaster of punishment, not evil. KJV translates the word as evil but He is talking about consequences which spell disaster. Obviously, God in the past has used calamities that exceeded Katrina et al to bring justice.It’s still problematic, but we must harken to Job and accept that it ain’t all gonna make sense.

  2. T.H. says:

    The word “create” stands out to me. It seems that God is affirmed as the one who is able to create, yes disaster, but who is able to bring order in the midst of disaster even using what would seem to be a disasterous individual in Cyprus. However, what are we to make of a God who does so in such truly catastrophic ways? i.e. Wiping the earth clean of humanity, killing the first born in Egypt, and leading a group of people on a campaign of ethnic cleansing? It seems Job would have asked God these questions if he didn’t fear for his life.

  3. mike the eyeguy says:

    It’s at crossroads such as these when we come face-to-face with apparent incongruency between a god of wrath and a god of love that we hesitate in the journey and sometimes become “reluctant” Christians (a la Yancey). Like all of you, I sometime don’t like what I see, but at then end of the day I must remember my place (creature not creator).Marcion’s (circa 2nd century)quick and dirty solution was to expunge the entire OT from the canon thereby eliminating any apparent contradictions. Of course the early church branded such shortcuts heretical, and I think the challenge that Job calls us to is to accept the fact that we see “through the mirror dimly” and to step forward regardless of our hesitation.One thing’s for sure. I am weary of Christians who seemingly lick their chops at the prospect that natural disasters have some punitive value for some select despised segment of the population. Scripture from top to bottom teaches that there is not necessarily a relationship between sin and the evil that befalls. Maybe there is and maybe there isn’t, but ultimately it’s God’s business, and it’s not our job to speculate.

  4. T.H. says:

    Mike,Great point about Marcionism’s quick trigger to throw the God of the Old Testament out the window. Don’t these same group of prophetic writings, as well as the Wisdon Literature, encourage God’s people to consider his many ways, even if those ways don’t make sense? Isn’t that a primary function of theology, to be thoughtful about who God is and why he does what he does?Aside from the considerations of a God who would cause calamity to happen, are we to assume from this text that God cause ALL things to happen? What do you all think?

  5. Jason says:

    F.F. Bruce, in his collection Hard Sayings of the Bible points out the Marcion heresy stemming from his misapplication of this text. Bruce points out this similarity here and in Lamentations 3:38, Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come? (NIV) Bruce says the evil spoken of in these passages is natural evil not moral evil. His quote: “Natural evil is seen in a volcanic eruption, plague, earthquake and destructive fire. It is God who must allow (and that is the proper term) these calamities to come. But, one could ask, isn’t a God who allows natural disasters thereby morally evil?”To ask such a question is to get at the origin of evil. As fallen creatures in a fallen world, we must bear the corruptions of this world as God allows them. But as Bruce points out, Scripture seems to be clear in affirming the character of God. See Deut. 32:4 and Psalm 5:4, texts that exonerate God as the author of evil.

  6. mike the eyeguy says:

    After the tsunami last year, someone in our class at church said that if the Fall had not occurred then things like tsunamis wouldn’t have happened. I asked, “So, you’re saying that prior to the Fall that tectonic plates did not move and that after the Fall, they did?”They replied, “Uh, I think that’s what I’m saying.”I did a little research into that and it turns out that tectonic plates have always been moving and that their movement is necessary to maintain the earth’s biosphere. Now, I’m not an earth scientist, but I bet that volcanoes and hurricances serve similar maintenance functions.It’s true that a person may be standing in the wrong place at the wrong time, but we probably shouldn’t be in a rush to label “natural” disasters “naturally evil.” This begs the question as to whether there really is anything that could be called “naturally” evil.As to the question of what kind of planet doesn’t have earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes, my guess is that there is a one word answer–uninhabitable.

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