There is a sentence at the end of Genesis that summarizes the message of the book. “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:20, ESV). When we witness ethical decay, injustices, and moral apathy in the world it is easy to despair. For some people, the corruption and wickedness in the world causes them to give up on God entirely. But is it possible that God can make things good even in a world filled with evil?
It is clear that God intends good to exist in the world and especially for His crowning creation, Humanity. The first page of Genesis records the Creation of the world and for each day the text says that, “God saw that it was good” (1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31). (After Man was created and God’s work was finished we’re told that it was “very good”.) God wants life in the world to be good, and He makes things good. And yet we can clearly see that all is not well in the world, it certainly is not good.
Genesis may begin with God making everything good, but the rest of the book is full of evil. Direct rebellion against God, selfishness, jealousy, hatred, murder, polygamy, drunkenness, abuse and mistreatment of women, murderous revenge, rivalrous family relations, deception, homosexuality, incest, and rape are only some of the sins detailed in the first pages of the Bible. One would hope that moral heroes would rise up to shine with goodness into the evil of the world, and there actually were some who sought God’s goodness. But even the godliest of these people were deeply flawed and too often furthered the cause of evil in the world.
The historical record of Genesis reminds us of exactly what we see every day. Even the best among us are plagued with glaring sins. Sometimes we choose to ignore their evil in an effort to see only the good but we cannot deny the stains of sin on all (Romans 3:23). Humanity’s sinful rebellion against God is the cause for the evil in the world. After God created everything good (Genesis 1) He entrusted the world to Man, granting us rulership over the Creation (Genesis 1:26-31). His intent was that we would “have dominion” in alignment with His good intentions in submission to His rule over us, but instead we turned to follow after the Serpent who has captured the whole world in sin (2 Corinthians 4:4, 1 John 5:21). The story of the world is a tragedy, paradise lost, evil enthroned where good should should reign. God made things good. Mankind made it evil.
But we still have hope. The dramatic history told in Genesis teaches us that even though God’s Creation is undergoing the consequences of our rebellion against Him, He has not abandoned us to be destroyed by evil. The curses at the Tree were met by God’s promise of future rescue (Genesis 3:15). When all of Mankind was totally consumed by evil (Genesis 6:5), God provided a fresh start to preserve what little good remained (Genesis 9:1-17). Though all the nations were stubborn, rebellious, and divided, God initiated a plan to save and bless everyone together (Genesis 12:1-3). Faithless, selfish liars were taught by God’s grace to humbly trust Him (Genesis 27-35). Slavery, corrupt justice systems, broken promises, famine, and complicated family relations were overcome by God’s wisdom so that countless lives were saved (Genesis 37-50). God hates every form of wickedness and injustice. He does not want any of it to exist at all in the world. But God has allowed us to choose our destiny and the destiny of the world, and though we have made innumerable and immeasurably evil choices He continues, in spite of it all, to make things good.
The greatest way that God has used and overcome evil to accomplish His good purposes is in the Cross. Jesus took on the curse of every evil in the world, even to the point of death (Galatians 3:1014). But through all that evil, God has accomplished good for His Son by exalting Him to Heaven’s Throne. And now God’s goodness is offered to all who are loyal Christ (2 Peter 1:2-4). In spite of our own sin and the evil around us we can be saved because no matter how much evil Mankind may work in the world, God is constantly working to make things good again.