So often, we read scripture and assume we understand what we are reading. For example, consider the following two passages out of Proverbs:
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear Adonai and turn away from evil.
--Proverbs 3:7 TLV
... and a couple verses from chapter 8:
“I, wisdom, dwell with prudence,
and acquire knowledge with discretion.
To fear Adonai is to hate evil.
I hate pride and arrogance,
evil behavior and a perverse mouth.
--Proverbs 8:12-13 TLV
Do we really understand what we are reading, or are we acting presumptuously by assuming we know something when in fact, we really don't? Several questions arise when one takes a few moments to ponder these two passages. Without answering one key question, we can not claim to understand them.
The critical question: What is Evil?
Let's take a look at the definition provided by Strong's:
רַע raʻ, rah; from H7489; bad or (as noun) evil (natural or moral): adversity, affliction, bad, calamity, displeaseure, distress, an evil man or thing, griefvous, harmful, heavy, hurtful, ill favoured, mischievous, misery, naughty, noisome, sad, sore, sorrow, trouble, vex, wickedness, wretchedness, wrong.1
But what does evil mean? So often we can't see the forest for the trees. We glaze over passages of scripture without understanding because we fail to take the time to stop and study until we gain the insight we need to follow Adonai's instructions. This is one of the biggest problems I see. It's at least one of the top 10 problems preventing well-entintioned believers from becoming mature men and women of G-d.
So, what do we do about it? The solution is easy: ask questions and keep a journal of them, so when you find the answer, you will have a place to write it down. You'll find many questions have more than one answer. When you start to examine scripture from a humble student's perspective, you'll find the professor will give you the answers when you need them.
Back to our question: What is Evil? Here is a simple, easy to remember definition of evil: Anything that goes against how G-d designed it to be.
... and again, for prudence: Evil is anything, anything, that goes against how G-d designed it to be.
Simple, right? It's not from Strong's; it's not a long list of words used in a bible translation or a long rambling lexicon entry. It's just a simple, easy to remember definition. So, next time you stumble upon the word 'evil' when you are reading scripture, apply this definition, and you'll understand what's being said and even better, you'll be able to apply what you learn to your daily life.
1. Adapted from "H7451 - ra` - Strong's Hebrew Lexicon (KJV)." Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 31 Aug, 2020. https://www.blueletterbible.o…
Scripture quotes are from the Tree of Life Version, unless otherwise indicated. See Bible Versions for more information.