God’s Glory in Creativity Through Evil
Reading through chapter three of “God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgement” has been equal parts hard work and priceless discovery. It’s hard work, because I think this is the first time I’ve read a book in which one chapter takes up over one hundred pages of pretty heavy stuff. I like reading and I always have, so I’m a little surprised this is my first time going “century” over one chapter (Black Greeks, I am one of them, understand “going century” as a process of enduring a particular kind of constructive suffering that equals out to one hundred, hence the usage of the term). Though I have not finished all of chapter three, I have found a significant stopping point at James M. Hamilton’s outlining God’s glory in salvation through judgement in the of book Isaiah that I’d like to form a few thoughts over. In specific, it is Hamilton’s drawing attention to Isaiah 45:5–7’s astonishing revelation that God has indeed created evil where God speaks saying:
“I am Yahweh and there is no other;
shaping light and creating darkness,
making peace and creating evil.
I am Yahweh, the one who does all these” (45:5–7)
Further, Hamilton connects this scriptural revelation to the central theme of God’s glory in salvation through judgement in the book of Isaiah to present the notion that “God has good purpose that are not thwarted but accomplished by evil” (205). Shocked emoji face. If God gets glory and his goodness is shown in literally everything including evil, I’m inspired to take my own contemporary wrestle with racism and examine it through the lens of God’s glory in creativity through evil.
Just a few weeks ago I came to the conclusion that oppression including racism, sexism, and any other “ism” had to be fullest and most creative expression of evil. This thought was inspired by a trip to Atlanta’s Center for Civil and Human rights where I was able to take a guided tour through an elaborate collection of the history and diversity of the fight for civil and human rights, including a collection of Dr. Martin Luther King’s own hand-written, private thoughts on his tenure in the struggle for civil rights. Having this thirty-thousand-foot view of global oppression helped me see that systemic oppression has unfolded itself across the backdrop of human history with a very particular kind of organized pattern of destruction of the weak that it must be by intelligent design. For evidence on this claim one would need to look no further than the institution of American chattel slavery, which has continued to develop and reinvent itself through forms like the American prison industrial complex as outlined in texts like Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow.”
I’m typically an optimistic reader, especially when a book comes to me by recommendation of someone I trust. In this case, “God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgement” comes recommended by my trusted and very learned pastor John Onwuchekwa. Therefore, I’m pretty optimistic about the fleshing out of God’s glory in creativity through evil as presented by Hamilton’s interpretation on Isaiah 45:57.
My question then becomes focused on contemporary issues of racism and oppression in America as evil…designed…by God? So far, Hamilton has been consistent to present sound reasoning for his argument that the center of understanding the Bible is God’s glory in salvation through judgement as he walks his reader through each book of the Bible pointing out this theme. Particular to the book of Isaiah, Hamilton uses Israel’s relation to Assyria to continue building on his theme. In short, Hamilton highlights Israel’s oppression by Assyria as God’s design to judge the sins of Israel, whom he loves to bring them back to himself and ultimately defeat Assyria, who intrinsically hates God, as evidenced by their hate for Israel. Hamilton posits, “Isaiah describes the concursus of Yahweh’s righteous will with the wicked intentions of the Assyrians in Isaiah 10:5–15.” He says, “The Assyrians have their own arrogant purposes (Isa. 10:7–11), and Yahweh’s sovereignty is such that they choose to accomplish what he has planned” (106), the plan being to use Assyrian oppression as judgement to encourage Israel from to turn from their sin and bring them back into right standing with Himself. Chin scratch emoji face.
Holding this outline of Israel’s relation to Assyria in tension with my current wrestle with American racial oppression of African Americans, I’m wondering if Black people are some modern type of Israel and America is a type of Assyria. I don’t want this to be confused with any Black Hebrew-Israelite leanings, although I’m open to exploring any parallels. I’m now inspired to continue with Hamilton’s exploration of this them through the rest of the Bible, holding it in tension with my own contemporary wrestle and weighing against some other historical voices like Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and, Howard Thurman. I may not arrive at anything conclusive, and I don’t think I should necessarily aim to do so. Instead, I’m excited to read, write and explore this course where ever it takes me. If I find any sticking parallels, I predict I would find God not only glorious in salvation through judgement, but also highly creative in his use of evil to accomplish his will.