Tuesday, May 3, 2011

On The Death Of An Evil Man

So Osama bin Laden has finally met the end promised to him almost 10 years ago, and it looks like he ran out of time to become an Apostle bin Laden.

As followers of Jesus, how should we view this momentous event? I think there are a few ways.

First, as an American, I am exultant and jubilant. An evil man who perpetrated the gruesome murder of thousands of innocent men, women and children, inspired many others to do the same, and indirectly caused the death and maiming of many American servicemen and women, has met his maker and paid the earthly price for his actions. It is a completely unexpected and stunning victory for our country. The fact that the mission went off flawlessly, with no innocent Pakistanis being hurt, and no American soldiers being killed, just makes it that much sweeter. The good guys won one. As a matter of state, the killing of Osama bin Laden was justified, appropriate, and necessary.

And on a visceral level, I am extremely gratified that the last thing this scumbag saw on earth was not the comforting faces of family and followers gathered around his deathbed, but the face of a brave American soldier, pointing an assault rifle at his face.

It's a great day to be an American. For the first time in quite a long time.

But how should we look at such an event from the point of view of a follower of Jesus? Should it be any different? Here is my humble opinion:

First, the God of the Universe is on the side of the innocent and the downtrodden. A man reaps what he sows, and those who live by the sword shall die by the sword. Jesus said it would be better "to be thrown into the sea with a large stone around your neck than to cause one of these little ones to sin." (Lk 17:2) That phrase "little ones" does not only refer to children, but also to those of weak or stumbling faith. This man certainly preyed on people like that, didn't he? And fittingly, almost prophetically even, his body was in fact dumped into the sea with heavy weights tied around it. Seriously people, you can't make this stuff up!

The very real forces of evil were dealt a blow today, and I don't believe there is anything sinful in the act of killing bin Laden. I also don't think it is wrong to feel good about his death as the just deserts of an evil life. As long as those sentiments aren't born of revenge or "blood honor" I think they're perfectly fine.

On a deeper level, though, I think we must also grieve at the loss of yet another of God's beloved children meeting their demise while embracing hatred, poison, and terror. Whatever happens on "the other side," Osama bin Laden willfully and repeatedly chose a path of evil, of inhumanity, and of anti-God while here on earth. He had an entire lifetime full of opportunities to turn around, to humble himself, and to learn mercy and grace. His was a life lived in vain and utterly wasted, and that is an eternal tragedy.

Think about this: our Lord loved (loves) Osama bin Laden exactly as much as he loves you. He made Osama bin Laden, planned his exact DNA sequence and lovingly knit him together in his mother's womb. God gave him all kinds of wonderful gifts--wealth and privilege, good looks, and a forcefully magnetic charisma. He could have done so much good with his life. God does not delight in Osama's death:

As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die? Eze 33:11

God is not willing that ANY should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance (2 Pet 3:9) and embrace eternal life--the life that is truly life, full of grace and hope and peace. Osama bin Laden totally rejected that view and instead threw his lot in with the father of lies.

So in our joy and happiness, let us at least keep a small corner in the back of our thoughts that weeps for the man who could have been. But wasn't.

I personally believe that each one of these emotions I am feeling--the joy, the triumph, the satisfaction of justice delivered, and the grave awareness of the awful spiritual tragedy--each one of them is right, appropriate, and good.

But you know what really excited me about witnessing this event? It has very little to do with bin Laden himself.

Just take a look at all the people singing, dancing, and celebrating in the streets at Ground Zero and the White House last night upon hearing the news. All that joy being expressed, all those chants and spontaneous outbreaks of patriotic and victorious singing? All that unity and shared sense of right being done?

All that was being expressed over just one evil, directed mainly against one nation, being erased from the earth.

My friend, can you imagine what that day will be like when God finally stretches out His mighty hand across time and space and once and for all says "NO MORE!" to every wrong, every heartache, every cruelty, every exploitation, every humiliation, every injustice, every rape, every murder?

Can you just picture every tribe, every tongue, every nation, in every corner in all the universe, joining together, throwing inhibition to the wind in glorious victory, singing with one voice the praises of Good finally and for all time triumphing over evil?

I think I finally begin to dimly understand what the coming Day of the Lord will be like.

It's going to be rapturous.

Truth poorly defended loses not its truthfulness;
likewise Falsehood aptly defended loses not its falsity.

Did you feel the mountains tremble?
Did you hear the oceans roar?
When the people rose to sing of
Jesus Christ the risen one?

Did you feel the darkness tremble?
When all the saints join in one song
And all the streams flow as one river
To wash away our brokeness?

And here we see that God You're moving.
A time of Jubilee is coming,
When young and old return to Jesus.
Fling wide your heavenly gates,
Prepare the way of the risen Lord...

Open up the doors and let the music play!
Let the streets resound with singing!
Songs that bring your hope,
Songs that bring your joy,
Dancers who dance upon injustice!

                                                        --  Delirious?
    Did You Feel The Mountains Tremble?


  1. This also gives us a modern-day parable to illustrate the Day of the Lord. Jesus said "when the Son of Man comes two men will be in the field. One will be taken, and the other will be left. Two women will be grinding grain. One will be taken, and the other will be left." And once again almost prophetically, Paul wrote that it will come "like a thief in the night".

    Osama bin Laden's day of judgement came like a Black Hawk helicopter in the night. Do you think he had any idea that 4 helicopters were on their way to his house that night? His life was going on as normal, as it had for 10 years. He may have been folding socks, or eating a midnight snack, or reading the Koran, but his time of reckoning took no notice of his schedule. He may have been caught up in some petty argument, or worrying about matters trivial or great. One minute thinking mundane thoughts, the next facing the end of his life. "So always be ready, because you don't know the day or the hour your Lord will come."

  2. Sobering collection of thoughts, and I wholeheartedly concur!

    The word "vanquish" comes to mind. On an itty-bitty scale we witnessed it's reality with bin Laden's demise, and Hitler's, and the Green River Killer's ... Lessor vanquishings occur regularly.

    But on the grand scale, when ALL evil is vanquished, I am beyond words. Something stirs deep within my heart as I consider the great implication of it all.


  3. What a great way to put it Jeremy. When someone evil is killed, we are somewhat glad that we don't have to see that evil anymore. But we forget that that person is loved by our creator just as much as he has loved us. What a sad day for God when one of his children who has made such poor choices dies...

  4. But the ironic thing is, according to Revelations, ultimately God settles the entire issue by force; he asserts his POWER through the conquering Jesus, this time returning with his army of angels and saints to impose God's order on the world.

    At the end of the day, according to your scriptures, God is God because he carries the biggest of sticks and isn't afraid to use it.

    Rather than planting the knowledge of him and his love in EVERY heart through some supernatural act, he settles the issue with plagues, vials poured out on the earth, and his Son returning and packing a punch that would make Thor wince.

    Nice stuff you believe in there...

  5. Wow Jeremy! That post brought tears to my eyes! You're right how amazing will that day be when God stops evil forever...AMAZING! Wow, what a great post and I was feeling a little guilty for all my joy at some evil mans eternal hell, thanks for all your thoughts and wisdom
    PS The song you quoted at the end of your post is Josh's favorite he always tears up when we sing it at church.

  6. Anonymous (not sure if this is PR),

    It's Revelation, singular. See my diatribe on this in the 3rd paragraph of www.skbeliever.com/2011/02/ridiculous.html

    There is no consensus that the events in Revelation are to be taken literally. Yes, a great deal of Christians believe this, but it is not an essential tenet of the faith. Let me address your complaint anyway.

    "At the end of the day, according to your scriptures, God is God because he carries the biggest of sticks and isn't afraid to use it."

    No. God is God because he is God. The Creator. The Creator gets to make the rules, just like a computer programmer gets to make the rules of a computer program. I'm just thankful that he *is* a loving God. Nobody ever said anything about him being a pacifist God.

    "Rather than planting the knowledge of him and his love in EVERY heart through some supernatural act"

    And if he did this he would be merely a robot-creator, stripping away free will with one bat of an eyelash. Is THAT really what you think would be better? For your mind and will to be eradicated, and forced into subservience? I seem to recall a couple Star Trek episodes about that...

    "ultimately God settles the entire issue by force; he asserts his POWER"

    In the end, yep that's exactly what he does. How else are you going to stop evil? You wanna hug it out with Hitler? Take a pinky-swear with Pol Pot? Maybe that serial rapist down the street would clean up his act if we could just get him to play a rousing game of Twister. This is an extraordinarily superficial complaint that you've presented.

    The God of the Bible is equal parts mercy and justice, grace and judgment. One of the greatest things about Him is that does all this perfectly, far better than any human ever could with all our milquetoast views of love and thirsty lusts for revenge. He judges perfectly and pardons perfectly. Comforts perfectly and disciplines perfectly. He loves perfectly and hates perfectly.

  7. And, in any event, he uses supernatural power to enforce his will at the end of the day, so why not use his supernatural power to open hearts? That's what you claim he does anyway-it is the Holy Spirit that makes men open to believe.

    So why not use that instead of the Supernatural Sword at the end of days?

    Answer: because ultimately, the key value in all organized religion is obedience to authority. It's a prop to hold up authoritarian societies. That's inherent in monotheism.

  8. "ultimately, the key value in all organized religion is obedience to authority. It's a prop to hold up authoritarian societies."

    Perhaps, but authoritarian societies and 'organized religion' (a diluted and meaningless term if ever there was one) are not the same thing. As well, you are mixing up the message of Jesus with secular history. Unfortunately, this is quite understandable, as the secular history of Christianity has much to answer for.

    "so why not use his supernatural power to open hearts?"

    Why would you want God to do this? This would be the ultimate act of aggression, wholly annihilating free will like that. If there's anything I know for sure about you, it's that you adamantly oppose the use of force to dominate the weak. God exerts His power at the end of time because:
    a) no matter how you try to intellectualize it away into mere debate, evil is very real, and some evil will resist until the end. Do you not believe this? What is God to do? Allow the rapists to keep on raping? Forever?
    b) He is the rightful owner and judge of the universe, as He is the one who envisioned and created it. There is nothing wrong with exerting your power when it is your right to do so.

    In fact you do this every single day of your own life, PR, in the corner of the world that you have influence over. In your kingdom, so to speak. The kingdom of PR. If someone were to break into your house and attempt to steal your child or rape your wife, would you simply stand there and watch passively because it is uncouth to 'enforce your will'? What ridiculous madness!