Does God Use Evil?

Titania Paige

Day: 48 | Plan: Great and Hidden Things

Today's Reading: Jeremiah 50

Jeremiah 50:17-18 (ESV) "Israel is a hunted sheep driven away by lions. First, the king of Assyria devoured him, and now at last Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has gnawed his bones. Therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing punishment on the king of Babylon and his land, as I punished the king of Assyria."

Sitting before the principal felt like awaiting a judge's final verdict. Though I never bullied anyone, I befriended a girl known to terrify students in our school — including boys. Our association was enough to earn me an audience with the principal beside my new friend.

Watching her trembling hands wipe tears from her teary eyes, I was astonished at how this young girl who harassed so many easily caved when intimidated herself. By the end of our meeting, she confessed that her days of bothering others were over.

In Jeremiah 50, Jeremiah prophesies that Babylon's persecution and oppression are coming to an end. This monarch that ravished the nations through their military expeditions and whom God used as an instrument to discipline Judah would be decimated by the northern nation Media Persia. (Jeremiah 50:1-3)

Jeremiah's long, intense prophecies against Babylon would be welcome news to the scattered and disheartened Jews living in Egypt. This promise of vengeance against their persecutors proved that while God providentially used Babylon to discipline Judah, He didn't condone their oppressive actions.

One could argue that it seems counterintuitive for God to punish Babylon when He raised up this same bully to conquer Judah. (Habakkuk 1:5-11) Though Israel's heart would be stirred to repentance during Babylon's judgment, (Jeremiah 50:4-5) this account raises the question: "Does God sometimes use evil to execute His plans?"

In Romans 8:28, we're told that "all things work together for good, for those who are called according to [God's] purpose." "All things" encompasses both good and evil, meaning God can use both miracles and tragedies to fulfill His purpose. However, it's worth noting that there's a distinct difference between God using evil and Him creating it.

From Scripture, we learn of God's perfect, righteous character. (Matthew 5:48) In 1 John 1:5, we read "that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." James 1:13 says, "… God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one." God doesn't create evil. However, God may choose to use sin already existing within the world to accomplish His will.

In this case, God uses evil Babylon to judge Judah and woo their hearts to repentance. (Jeremiah 50:4-5) However, another example of God using evil for good would be the crucifixion of Jesus. Though Jesus was unjustly condemned and murdered, God used His sacrifice to triumph over demonic rulers and authorities and accomplish salvation on our behalf. (Colossians 2:15; John 3:17)

We may not always agree with God's methods, but He is the sovereign authority over all. In His providence, He is free to establish His plans according to His own pleasure. (Psalm 115:3) Yet because our God is perfect — whether through divine intervention or disaster — when He acts, we can trust that His plans are for our good.

Prayer: God, we thank You for Your promise to work all things — both good and evil — for the good of those who love You and are called according to Your purpose. (Romans 8:28) Though we may not always understand why or how You choose to establish Your will, we can rest confidently knowing that Your plans are for our good and Your glory. In Jesus' name, amen.

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