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Isaiah 54:16 - Homilies By R. Tuck

The Divine control of evil forces.

"I have created the waster to destroy." This is an assurance which we, with our theological notions of the sphere of Satan, find it very difficult to realize. We cannot associate God directly with the forces that work evil Even if we get so far as to say that God permits evil, and overrules it for good, we cannot see that he actually sends the evil and arranges the evil, which is as truly his angel, his messenger, as any form of good is. Perhaps the conception was less difficult to a Jew than to us, because he had better notions of the Divine unity than we can gain. The "waster" here is a comprehensive term for the great conquering kings of Assyria and Babylonia, at whose hands Israel had so grievously suffered. Isaiah declares that God raised them up; God sent them forth; God gave them their work. He assures the new Jerusalem that it is quite safe, for God does not intend to send against them any such "wasters;" and they may dismiss for ever from their thoughts that any other being exists who can send "wasters" forth. Matthew Arnold says, "Destroyers and destruction are God's work; they reach those only whom he means to reach, and he does not mean them to reach Israel."

I. GOD SENDS TO US ALL THE EVIL THAT COMES TO US . We must never rest with second causes, nor talk of circumstances as if they were under no wise control. We must see God in calamity, and enmity, and temptation, and everything to which we can attach the name evil. Evil indeed is, oftentimes, no more than good which we cannot understand. The supreme control of God over all that man calls evil is figured for us in Satan, as the angel of calamity, appearing, to give account of his work, among the sons of God (see Job 1:2 .).

II. GOD WARDS OFF ALL THE EVIL THAT MIGHT COME TO US . For there is a sense in which, as free-willed creatures, we are bringing evil upon ourselves; and others, as free-willed creatures, in some limited sense, may contemplate doing evil to us. Therefore have we, in verse 17, the further assurance, " No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee for the judgment shalt thou show to be guilty." It is with God, and God alone, to send into our lives, or to withhold from us, both the evil and the good .—R.T.

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