Thus says the Lord to Cyrus His anointed, whom I have taken by the right hand, to subdue nations before him and to loose the loins of kings; to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut: “I will go before you and make the rough places smooth; I will shatter the doors of bronze and cut through their iron bars. I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden wealth of secret places, so that you may know that it is I, The Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name. For the sake of Jacob My servant, and Israel My chosen one, I have also called you by your name; I have given you a title of honor though you have not known Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God. I will gird you, though you have not known Me; That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun that there is no one besides Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other, the One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the Lord who does all these.”
Calvinist, William MacDonald: “As Cyrus swept forward in his campaigns, there would be peace for Israel and calamity for Israel’s foes, and God was the One who was supervising the entire operation.” (Believer’s Bible Commentary, p.972)
The King James Version states “evil” at v.7, instead of “calamity,” but it’s not evil in the sense of a moral evil or wickedness or sin, but in the sense of disaster and calamity and harm, as in judgment.
William MacDonald: “The rendering calamity is much better in context.” (Believer’s Bible Commentary, p.993)
Question: Is this saying that God causes and determines moral evil, or wickedness?
Answer: Some Calvinists interpret it as a moral evil, desiring a “proof-text” to argue that God causes sin. Calvinists believe that God has predestined everything, including sin, but that if God does it, then knowing that God is good, sin must be, in some way, good, and serve toward God’s overall glorification. Therefore, for man to commit sin is bad, but for God to unchangeably script sin, is good. That’s Calvinism, and it’s also why people accuse Calvinism of being both illogical and reprehensible. The alternative is that this is speaking of judgment, and which is conditional. (See Jeremiah 18:1-13.)
One way to understand this passage is to simply look at the context, as it’s not talking about immorality but about calamity. So it’s not talking about evil in the sense of wickedness, but about disaster. Another way to view the passage is in light of Haggai chapter 1. God says: “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Consider your ways! Go up to the mountains, bring wood and rebuild the temple, that I may be pleased with it and be glorified,’ says the Lord. ‘You look for much, but behold, it comes to little; when you bring it home, I blow it away. Why?’ declares the Lord of hosts, ‘Because of My house which lies desolate, while each of you runs to his own house. Therefore, because of you the sky has withheld its dew and the earth has withheld its produce. I called for a drought on the land, on the mountains, on the grain, on the new wine, on the oil, on what the ground produces, on men, on cattle, and on all the labor of your hands.’” (Haggai 1:7-11)