What is it to think evil? It is to imagine evil without any apparent proof. The one who has evil eyes doubts the faithfulness of the faithful wife. This is suspicion. Suspicion does not correspond to the truth about a crime. Two suspects are caught for some connection to a case, but after the investigation they find that they are not guilty. It was only a suspicion.
The Holy Scriptures record various cases of Jehovah’s suspicion of his people, counter the writings of the apostle Paul, who says about love: “Doesn’t behave itself inappropriately, doesn’t seek its own way, is not provoked, takes no account of evil ⁄ thinks no evil” (1 Cor. 13:5).
Jehovah delivered Israel from the Egyptian captivity and led them to Mount Sinai where he gave them the Ten Commandments, which were written in two tablets of stone. He also gave them statutes and precepts to rule the people. He said afterwards: “You shall observe to do all the commandment which I command you this day, that you may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which Jehovah swore to your fathers. You shall remember all the way which Jehovah your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, to prove you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments, or not” (Deut. 8:1-2). Let us think a little. Was Jehovah tempting his people to know whether they were going to keep his commandments? To know what was in their hearts? Then Jehovah did not know! Was he suspecting his people? He expected that they would fall, and, in order to have proofs, he tempted the people for forty years in the desert, causing them to hunger and thirst. He was forcing an unfavorable situation on account of a suspicion (Deut. 8:3).
Jehovah knew that, if hunger makes the thief, it also makes the unfaithful. Solomon, with the wisdom of Jehovah, said: “Men don’t despise a thief, if he steals to satisfy himself when he is hungry” (Prov. 6:30). What did Jehovah expect? Would he expect that the people, seeing their children parched, cadaverous, and dying of hunger and thirst for forty years, would raise up their hands to the heavens, and say: “Merciful and loving Jehovah, our children are shriveling each day and dying of starvation. Glory be to your name. Send us forty more years of famine. How good it is to die of hunger and thirst”? It is obvious that the people were going to rebel and sin. And consequently Jehovah sent plagues and pestilences (Ps. 78:18-31).
There are more instances of Jehovah’s suspicions. Hezekiah was a king of Judah. He ruled 29 years in Jerusalem and did what was good in the eyes of Jehovah. This faithful king removed the high places, broke down the sacred pillars, and cut down the Asherah. He broke to pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made. The Bible text says that Hezekiah trusted in Jehovah as no other king of Judah had done before or after him. He drew near to Jehovah and did not leave him, and kept all the commandments that Jehovah had given to Moses (2 Kings 18:1-6). The king of Babylon heard that Hezekiah had been sick and sent him a present and a letter (2 Kings 20:1; 20:12). Hezekiah, a good and faithful man, had trusted in Jehovah more than David had done, for the text declares that before him there had been no one like him (2 Kings 18:5-6). As we said, Hezekiah, in his simplicity, and in a gesture of courtesy, took the emissaries of the king of Babylon to the house of the treasures and showed them the silver and the gold, spices and ointments. He did not withhold anything (2 Kings 20:13). For this reason, the sick mind of Jehovah suspected the integrity of the character of Hezekiah and oppressed him, to test his heart. The text says: “However in [the business of] the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent to him to inquire of the wonder that was done in the land, God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart” (2 Chr. 32:31). But Jehovah knew that Hezekiah was faithful, and it is written that there was not another king in all the history of Israel who trusted in Jehovah as he did. Jehovah knew that Hezekiah was attached to him, and did he suspect him even then? (2 Kings 18:5-6). A man with evil eyes suspects his best friend; a husband who has evil eyes suspects the most faithful wife; and the god with evil eyes suspects the most faithful and dedicated servant. The abandonment of Jehovah took everything away from Hezekiah — even his children (2 Kings 20:16-18).
We have another case in the truthful pages of the Old Testament. It is a scandalous case of suspicion.“Now it happened on the day when God’s sons came to present themselves before Jehovah, that Satan also came among them. Jehovah said to Satan, ‘Where have you come from?’ Then Satan answered Jehovah, and said, ‘From going back and forth in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.’ Jehovah said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant, Job? For there is none like him in the earth, a blameless and an upright man, one who fears God, and turns away from evil’” (Job 1:6-8). Satan suspected the righteousness of Job, explaining that his sincerity, righteousness and perseverance were false. He suggested to the god Jehovah that he removed everything that Job possessed, that he would, then, blaspheme against god. That is, Satan sowed suspicion in the heart of Jehovah. Jehovah, then, said: Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him (Job 1:9-12). And Satan burned all Job’s properties, destroyed his flocks, and killed his children (Job 1:12-19). Look what an evil suspicion did: it condemned to death ten innocent people and made Job very poor. Jehovah accepted Satan’s suspicion. Some doctors will explain that Jehovah wished to prove to the devil that Job was sincere, righteous and faithful. Who has heard of a thief demanding that a king will remove the goods of the faithful minister to prove that the minister will fall? And Job, after the monstrous disgrace that Jehovah approved, remained faithful (Job 1:20-21).
In the face of the sublime declaration of Job, Jehovah confesses to have been tempted by Satan without cause. Satan attacks again, demanding that Jehovah touches the body of Job, certain that he would blaspheme. Satan tempted Jehovah a second time. And Jehovah said, “He is in your power”. And the Devil hurt Job with malignant boils (Job 2:3-7). But Job did not blaspheme (Job 2:8-10).
I ask the following question: Can a thief and a homicide, condemned and in prison, demand of the king to send to prison a faithful minister only because he suspects the minister without cause? The devil sins from the beginning (1 John 3:8). He is a liar and a homicide from the beginning (John 8:44). How can anyone imagine that God would hear a fallen angel? What demands can the devil make upon Jehovah, to ask these absurdities and receive an answer? Thanks to God, Jesus refused the onslaughts of the devil during the forty days of his temptation (Luke 4:1-3). And Jesus came to the world to destroy the works of the devil, not to support what Jehovah was doing (1 John 3:8). And people still say that Jehovah and Jesus are the same person!
By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira