The Death of Osama Bin Laden and 'High-fives'
A week ago this evening I was watching Geraldo at Large on Fox News, when word of a Presidential address was announced. After 20-30 minutes of speculation of what the address might be about — and most assumed it was something about Libya and Omar Quadaffe — Geraldo received word that Osama bin Laden was dead. He was absolutely giddy, giving 'high fives' to his guest. President Obama then came on the air and gave a short address announcing that Osama had been killed in a fire-fight, and that U.S. Navy S.E.A.L.s had retrieved the body. Onboard ship a DNA test confirmed that it was indeed bin Laden and he was buried at sea. Before the President was even finished with his address, crowds of U.S. citizens were gathering in front of the White House and in Times Square, chanting "U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A." People were giving each other 'high fives' and cheering and applauding. I must be honest that at the news of his death I thought of Proverbs 7:9 which says, "When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices, And when the wicked perish, there is joyful shouting."
Like many of you, I'm sure, I felt a deep sense of satisfaction knowing that justice had finally caught up with this self-proclaimed hater of America who had pledged to kill as many of our citizens as he could. Should we feel relieved? Yes. Should we openly rejoice with 'high fives' and chanting and applause? I will confess that the desire to do so, is something I've struggled with this week. Not because I'm some namby-pamby, judge-not-lest-thou-be-judged, far-left liberal who loathes anything our military does. But because I am a Christian seeking to live out the ethic of Christ in me.
How should those who know the true God savingly through faith in Jesus Christ respond? It's an old dilemma for the Christian. We are born citizens of earthly kingdoms. As such we are shaped, in part, by that earthly kingdom-its mores, its values, and traditions. It is normal to feel pride for that earthly kingdom. We call it patriotism.
As Christians, however, we are distinctly told that 'our citizenship is in heaven, '(Phil. 3:20). When the Apostle wrote that, he was not referring to some future event, but a present reality. This does not mean that Christians are not also citizens of earthly countries. Indeed, believers should be obedient to the government in all matters not expressly forbidden by the Lord. We believers have responsibilities to earthly governments, but our first loyalty is to the Lord in heaven.
In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus laid out a distinctly different ethic for Kingdom citizens. That Kingdom ethic frequently classes with the ethic of our earthly citizenship. The result can cause a real tension between national identity and kingdom identity. Can we be a 'good American' and a 'good Christian' at the same time? This dilemma hit home last Sunday evening with the announcement of Osama bin Landen's death at the hands of an American Seal Team.
As a citizen of the U.S.A, I have a real satisfaction that Osama is dead. Justice has been served. Proverbs 21:15 tells us, "When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers." (Proverbs 21:15, NIV84). Around the world this week, many al-Qaeda leaders have moved and left no forwarding address! And, they listen more intently for the sound of helicopter rotors! By his own admission, bin Laden was the mastermind behind thousands of U.S. deaths (9-11, USS Cole, the embassies in Africa). He was also responsible for the death of thousands— if not tens-of-thousands — of fellow Muslims who didn't see through his prism of Koranic interpretation. He deserved to be executed by proper governmental authority as ordained by God. As an American I would have liked to see them do with his body what they use to do in the old West—prop him up on a board and take pictures. It was a reminder to the other "bad guys" that 'this could be you'. And then give him an ignominious burial in a shallow pit.
As a citizen of the Kingdom, my Savior tells me to love my enemies, and to pray for those who would use, or abuse or mistreat me. The bible reminds us that sin has corrupted our longings as well as everything else within us. This is why we are admonished not to take personal vengeance into our own hands. The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 12:20-21, "On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (Romans 12:20-21, NIV84). It is this passage that forces me to resist harboring vendettas while encouraging governmental authorities to fulfill their calling to punish those who do evil. Jesus calls us to love our enemies—even Osama bin Laden. I won't pretend that I've even come close to obeying that command in Osama's case.
I am grateful that Osama bin Laden is dead. I believe his death was justified, and brings justice to tens of thousands of 9-11 survivors and their families. Those who choose to live by the sword, may very well die by the sword. This was certainly true of Osama. However, I cannot, and I have not rejoiced at Osama's death. Proverbs 24:17 tells us "Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice, " (Proverbs 24:17, NIV84).
As a Kingdom citizen, how should I respond to Osama's death?
I. CELEBRATE THE EXECUTION OF GOD-ORDAINED JUSTICE AGAINST EVIL
- "Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the LORD: "I will sing to the LORD, for he is highly exalted. The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea. The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him. The LORD is a warrior; the LORD is his name. Pharaoh's chariots and his army he has hurled into the sea. The best of Pharaoh's officers are drowned in the Red Sea. The deep waters have covered them; they sank to the depths like a stone. "Your right hand, O LORD, was majestic in power. Your right hand, O LORD, shattered the enemy." (Exodus 15:1-6, NIV84)
- Exodus, chapter 15 contains the Song of Moses that the prophet sang after the destruction of Pharaoh's army at the Red Sea
- it was God who hurled horse and rider into the sea and covered them
- God is an awesome God who displays His might and His power in defeating the enemies of His people
- nowhere in this passage does Moses rejoice in the death of Israel's enemy
- not rejoicing in the death of an enemy does not, however, preclude exulting in the overthrow of God's enemies
- the Song of Moses is all about the power of God, and the sovereignty of God, and the majesty of God, and the singularity of God, and the unfailing love of God for His people, and the justice of God—not about Pharaoh's comeuppance
- Osama bin Laden was a clear enemy
- as the leader of al Qaeda, he was responsible for the death of 3,000 men, women, and children on 9-11, as well as the seventeen sailors who died on the USS Cole, the deaths of US servicemen shot down in Somalia, the 301 persons killed in bombings of U.S. Embassies in Africa, the bombing of a synagogue in Tunisia, the deaths of 180 people in a nightclub in Bali, and the list goes on and on
- Osama bin Laden has been one of the deadliest terrorists of this young century
- as Christians, our worldview should be looking at the events from God's perspective
- the Song of Moses in Exodus 15 and Deborah's Song in Judges 5 interpreted their victories over the enemy from a theocentric worldview
- their enemies were enemies of God—there was a spiritual conflict going on and both events were contests between God and the false gods of Israel's enemies
- it was God who was fighting on the behalf of His people
- God still fights on behalf of His people
- Osama's worldview maintained that Allah is supreme and that Islam must vanquish all other worldviews—particularly Judaism and Christianity—at any cost
- Islamic fundamentalism is not just about a bunch of Arabs hating the West for perceived wrongs of the past
- it is a clash of worldviews: Islam vs. Christianity
- our worldview recognizes their right to worship Allah even though we believe they are sincerely wrong
- their worldview demands we worship Allah, and if we do not we must be enslaved or die
- Celebrate the Execution of God-ordained Justice Against Evil
II. GRIEVE THAT A SOUL WAS LOST
- according to what I believe the Scriptures teach, Osama bin Laden is in hell
- if our Lord's descriptions on Hell are to be believed—and I do believe them—we should not wish that on anyone, nor rejoice in it
- a believer should grieve that the message that could have saved bin Laden was spurned and rejected
- that same rejection continues by followers of Islam worldwide
- rather then accept Jesus as the Christ, they relegate Him to the place of a prophet
- the New Testament is clear that a person is only saved by calling upon the name of the Lord
- there is no need to wonder whether-or-not bin Laden is in hell because the Scripture has made the declaration
- our grief is that God's desire for salvation was not fulfilled in the life of this terrorist
- I know that such a statement may concern some and irk others
- but the Scriptures at this point are clear
- in the Old Testament we read, "Say to them, '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!..." (Ezekiel 33:11, NIV84)
- n the New Testament we read, God "... desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." (1 Timothy 2:4)
- these verses are why some ot the euphoric displays of joy on the part of some Christian leaders at the news of bin Laden's death leave me cold
- their response strikes me as more American than Christian
III. PRAY FOR THOSE UNDER DECEPTION
- the Islamic world is deceived by Satan, veiled in a cloak of darkness
- Islam has subverted the message of the Gospel with a new "gospel"
- the Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatian Christians, ".. .even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!" (Galatians 1:8, NASB95)
- Mohamed is a false prophet who created a contrary gospel and is accursed
- sadly, his message has left millions without the truth
- equally as sad, this contrary gospel has also produced the degradation of women, the hatred of Jews, the killing of Americans, and the loss of personal freedoms throughout the Muslim world which could bring joy to life
- we should pray that the Gospel of Jesus Christ would impact as many of the followers of Islam as possible
- Jesus Christ is their only hope!
- the good news tonight is that an estimated one million Muslims a year are turning in faith to Christ
- we should pray that totalitarian governments of the Islamic world would collapse and be replaced with governments that allow for the freedom of worship
- we should pray for the collapse of Islam in totality as men and women have the veil of falsehood drawn back from their eyes
IV. LONG FOR THE DAYS OF MESSIAH'S REIGN
- someday the Dece/Verwill find himself locked away, defeated by the returning King, and his deceptive ways will no longer blind the nations
- until that day, the devil roams about like a lion, seeking whom he may devour
- right now, Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father, but the promise of God to Him is quickly approaching: "I [will] make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet" (Psalm 110:1, NASB95)
- when we pray, "Thy Kingdom come," we pray for the day when the deceiver is thrown into the abyss which is shut and sealed for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:3)
- a. may that day come quickly!
In both the Song of Moses and Deborah's Song, the whole message is to glorify God; not the warriors. So, in the end, I think there is a sense in which we can celebrate the death of Bin Laden without the emotional excesses of some American's celebrations.
He is an evil man who is not my personal enemy, but is an enemy of our culture and of our faith. I think there is a religious aspect to this and I think there is a struggle between good and evil. I think there is justice in his death.