At the creation, God spoke and “did” or “made” (‘asah) things. 

God speaks again to Judah, with the same creative word, a word that will form a new heavens and a new earth (Isaiah 65:17). Something is “done” or “made,” as it was at the beginning (Isaiah 65:12; ‘asah again). But what is made is not tov, “good.” What’s made is “evil” (ra’).

Does God speak evil into being?

No: Judah “makes” ra’ because she refuses to listen to Yahweh: “I called and you did not answer; I spoke, but you did not hear; and you did evil in My sight” (65:12). 

Between the utterance of the creative word and the making of good, something intervenes. There is an obstacle between Word and new creation; there is resistance to the Word that would remake the world. Judah’s stubborn deafness interrupts the creative nexus between “word” and “thing made,” between the poet and his poiesis.

Here is the difference between creation and “providence” in a postlapsarian world: Both are outcomes of the Word, but while the Word accomplishes its purpose without resistance in creation, after Adam’s sin the same Word is rejected, hated, crucified.

Yet Isaiah knows that the Word will not return void. New creation will come. God’s Yes will overwhelm our every No. But in the meantime, we are faced with the impossible possibility, the impossible reality, of God’s unheard Word.

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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