FROM SEVERAL SIDES protests are arising that God has
thrown a thick veil over such themes as the origin of evil. We are warned
against our foolhardy course in seeking to ruthlessly tear it aside. And
all are warned against such rationalistic speculations. It is peculiarly
interesting and instructive, therefore, to discover just what constitutes
this cover, and how it is woven, and where it lies. One of our
contemporaries has revealed this in an article against us on "The Origin
of Evil." The following paragraph is illuminating:
"To be sure there are passages in the Scriptures which,
taken literally seem to teach this, as Isa.45:7: "Who form the light and
create the darkness." But does this passage really speak of the origin of
darkness and evil, and are the ultimate roots of this secret uncovered
here? Or does not the ultimate cause still remain veiled? Searchers of the
Scriptures with divine wisdom know how much God hides behind such words,
and how unsatisfactory it is to take the letter and hold it, instead of
the general sense of the Scriptures, and how necessary it is to get their
sense by an 'It is written again.'"
This shows how the veil is made. We warn our readers
that, if they follow this method of interpretation, all of God's
revelation will soon be hazy and obscure. The first rule is, Do not take
anything "literally." God never means what He says, but only seems to do
so. Was it not so in Eden? Did not the serpent teach Eve not to take God's
word too seriously? When God says, "I form the light," He really cannot
mean that! May not someone else have created the light originally? The
word is only form. Of course, with darkness the word is create (Heb.
bra), but is it not possible that someone else (Satan, for instance)
made it before Jehovah created it? Read the context! How it hurts our
hearts to see the saints tempted to such unbelief! Create is the
strongest word that can be used to denote the origin. God, in His wisdom,
has coupled light and darkness together in one declaration. If you deny
that He created the one, you must reject the other also. If He did not,
then Jehovah is not God!
There are many figures of speech in the Scriptures, but
this is not one of them. If it is a figure, let us have its name, and in
what does it consist? If "form the light" is literal, then "create
darkness" must be also. If "make peace" means just that, how can we change
"create evil?" Figures are full of meaning. What is the sense here?
This is the warp of this veil which lies on the
Scriptures. It is unbelief. "Yea, hath God said?" It is the first and
the foremost of all sins, which is the root of all the rest. Oh, how it
hurts our hearts to see it commended, inculcated, glorified? And this by
those who, in other realms, are strong against this very evil!
Unbelief is the warp of this veil. Now we come to the
woof, the "general sense of the Scriptures." This is only a euphemism for
human tradition. It is always wise to take into account the context of any
passage, and to view it in the light of all of God's revelation. But this
is quite a different matter. The point is to find passages which destroy
the apparent sense of the one under consideration. The writer himself
gives us an example, which we will transcribe, so that our readers may
learn to beware of such methods.
"How many, in seeking to lift the veil [which lies on
the origin of evil], have come to the conclusion that evil originated out
of God as well as good, darkness as well as light. Satan did not fall, but
was created a being of darkness by God at his beginning. If so, then would
that be possible which James declares impossible, that one and the same
spring should well forth both sweet and bitter."
Turn to James 3:9-12 and read it. Does it prove that
good and evil cannot come from the same source? Quite the contrary. Men,
made in the likeness of God, both bless and curse, with the same
mouth. A spring is not made in the likeness of God. Shall we limit God's
ability to that of His inanimate creation? This is vain reasoning. Even so
it is also vain to deduce God's limits from those of man because he is in
God's likeness. God is not a spring and He is not a man. Isaiah speaks of
Him Who alone can form light. A spring cannot do so. Man cannot do so.
Why bring this passage into conflict with Isaiah's grand declaration?
Shall we lift the veil a little, to see what causes this irrational
reasoning? It is an effort to prove that Jehovah is not the only
Creator, but that Satan has the honor which He claims for Himself! It is
the deification of the Adversary!
When direct and definite evidence for any desired
doctrine is not to be found, then recourse is had to symbolism. There are
many delightful types in the word of God. I would not have them ignored.
Where God has pointed them out they must be interpreted strictly in accord
with His literal statements. They should never be made the basis of any
doctrine. If they are, the presumption is that the teaching is false, for
God has not left it to the human imagination to complete His revelation.
Beware of symbols! Almost everyone can look back and see where he has held
error based on symbolism. As the doctrine of Satan's fall is not taught in
the Word of God, it has been found necessary to inject it into the
Scriptures by making Adam and the prince of Tyre types of Satan. The king
and prince of Tyre (Ithobalus II) are called a man (Ezek.28:2), clearly
one and the same personage, yet, to save the type and uphold the error,
the king is taken literally in spots, contrary to all other symbolic
God's Word uses Adam to picture Christ. Now, to prove
that Satan fell, it is suggested that he is a type of Satan. Are Christ
and Satan so alike that they must be typified by one and the same person?
Are Joseph and David also types of Satan? Even Adam's transgression is the
divine picture which is used to illustrate the scope of Christ's one just
act. God says Adam and his offense portray the person and work of Christ.
In order to make us disbelieve God's Word that "the Slanderer is sinning
from the beginning" (1 John 3:8) we are now asked to believe that Adam is
his type and that, therefore, he is not sinning from the beginning.
Now that God's Word is disposed of, we are asked to
believe man. We are given a long extract from an honored and enlightened
teacher of the past. He begins with "God is love...a Spring which can
reveal nothing but light and love..." How vain is such reasoning! Can we
not easily prove that love would never allow the sin and suffering which
we ourselves experience? Was it not God Who said, "I hate" (Rom.9:13)?
Then he tells us about "principles," one of the last resorts of unbelief,
in which man, not content with what God has said, uses his own decadent
mind in order to make himself a revelation to oppose God's declarations.
Thank God for the teachers He has given to His ecclesia. But all have
harbored error, and any error can be substantiated by an appeal to man. To
bring in a human authority in such a matter is an acknowledgment that the
position cannot be maintained by means of God's Word.
We are warned that, if we believe Isaiah 45:7, we are
among those who know "the depths of Satan," the sensualities connected
with Jezebel worship (Rev.2:24). But we assure our readers that we are
not forced to eat idol sacrifices or indulge in any physical excesses on
this account. Read the passage (Rev.2:19-25). The depths of Satan and his
origin are two entirely different matters. Ignorance of Satan is no
virtue. Paul says we are not ignorant of his mind (2 Cor.2:11). We are to
put on the panoply of God in order to stand in spite of the stratagems of
the Slanderer (Eph.6:11). The strange thing about this brother's warning
is this: We are sure to fall into the clutches of Satan if we believe
God's plain declarations, but we are fully justified in seeking knowledge
about Satan by means of self-invented types which are manipulated to deny
what God has said.
Paul, we are asked to believe, says nothing about these
things. On the contrary, our whole teaching concerning the origin of evil
is only an effort to show that the "general sense" of Scripture is in
favor of a childlike acceptance of Paul's grand conclusion "all is out
of Him and through Him and for Him" (Rom.11:36). A few, thank God, have
been led to believe that all is for Him. Yet, alas, some of these are
seeking to put a veil over "all is out of Him" although they have
themselves removed the veil from "all is for Him."
May God, in His transcendent grace, remove this veil
also, and reveal Himself to them as the great Deity (Isa.42:8):
I am Jehovah! It is My name!
And My glory to another I will not give!