Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Osama bin Laden and Jesus

Ding dong, bin Laden is Dead! - anonymous Facebook post.

This is not a patriotic post. It is not meant to catch the eye of up-to-the-minute news hounds. It is a blog about death, about hope and about Jesus.

Of course Mr. bin Laden is a high-value news target, one which stole the spotlight from the royal wedding on cable news. Many of my Christian friends had opinions about the raid in Pakistan. Here are some nameless Facebook stati:

Ah yes. Killing to show people that killing is wrong...

I confess to taking pleasure in knowing the last thing that went through Bin Laden's head was an American made bullet.

It is good to see young people in the streets celebrating a major victory for America. Cheers to the SEAL team, military, and intelligence agencies that brought down that terrible man!

Knock, Knock who's there? The Navy SEALS!

Faced with the death of a man, a Christian never rejoices, but reflects on the serious responsibility of everyone before God and man, and hopes and pledges that every event is not an opportunity for a further growth of hatred, but of peace.

"I have never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great joy" -Mark Twain

Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, And do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; Or the LORD will see it and be displeased, And turn His anger away from him (Prov 24:17,18). For there is none righteous, no, not even one. (Rom 3:10)

Dr Phil to Osama: How's that 72 virgins thing workin' for ya?

The main Bible verses floating around Facebook and Twitter were the following.

Ezekiel 33:11 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! Why will you die, people of Israel?’

Genesis 9:6 “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God    has God made mankind.

Proverbs 11:10 When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices; when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.

So, Christians, where should we stand? Here is my take on all this. I don't think that we can rejoice in the death of a sinner who very likely did not have saving faith. They are all around us, some are seemingly good people, and others, well, they are seemingly evil. Jesus died for them all. We can't rejoice in their death because we too deserve death. I am not rejoicing. I am praying for those to turn from their evil ways without judgement. I confess, I never could watch the video of the hanging of Saddam Hussein. And although I thought he committed evil and deserved death (Gen 9:6), I did not rejoice, and neither does God.

This does not mean that I am indifferent to tyranny and murder. God is the one who knows their hearts. I can say that fruit of the evil that spilled out, was sickening. God in his wisdom chose both Paul and Moses to partake in the advance of the Kingdom of God here on earth. He also allowed a murderous and oppressive Egyptian army to drown in the Red Sea. God is a just God and our ways are not his.

The verse in Genesis is clear that those who purposely take life should lose their own. As Christians I do not see a case for aggressive action.

Matthew 26:52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword."

How should we respond to the death of OBL? I think that we need to be very grateful that a man with the blood of thousands on his hands has been stopped. It certainly would have been better 10 years ago. If you are an American and want to be proud of the Navy SEALS, go ahead, I am.

I believe the Osama had an opportunity to surrender and did not. He chose the use of lethal force against him. Our military, border patrol and even local police have to make this choice every day - and on occasion a average citizen does too. I don't think I could do it. But when I see the shattered lives of thousands as I stand amidst the local 9/11 memorial in my town dedicated to 16 of my neighbor's loved ones, I an glad that some can. One of the nurses I had in the hospital lost her husband that fateful day.

Let me be clear. I do not applaud killing of any kind. Unfortunately the use of force is sometimes a solution to preventing more killing and I hate that. I do know that we have a just God, and his justice is perfect. He has the power over our very breath, his heart breaks for those the choose death, and rejoices for those that choose life. Mine does too.

It is this choice for which he sent Jesus to die on the cross; for those with faith and the seal of the Holy Spirit, the sting of death has been removed.

Now that the news has sunk in a little, how do you feel about the death of Osama bin Laden?


Charlie Chang said...

Thanks for the post David.

I know the verse in Proverbs 11:10 says, "When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices; when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy."

So I think when a really bad person dies, there is logic behind being happy.

But I personally can't see Jesus being happy that a human being is dead. No matter what they did.


David-FireAndGrace said...

@Charlie - I don't think that Jesus is happy, I am with you.

Thanks for working through it.

Anonymous said...

Any reading of the Old Testament (particulary Joshoa, Judges or Kings I, II) shows that God is perfectly fine with killing the enemies of his people, including killing civilians, enslaving woman and children, and taking all their posessions. In Biblical Hebrew law there are fine distinctions between the ways that people are killed. Accidents, abortion, the death of a slave, are all covered in Levitucus, and all have varying penalties. War killings are allowed, and are extensively discussed as not only OK, but required in the books cited above. It's the intentional killing of an adult Jew by another Jew that's murder, and covered within the Ten Commandments.

So both the life and death of Osama bin Laden are quite Old Testament in spirit. Osama was an enemy of America and it's regional allies (including the feckless Pakistanis). The deliberate targeting and assasination of bin Laden is legal by American, International and Biblical law (this being part of an act of war). Targeted assasination of specific enemies is not new. The US Navy took out Japanese Admiral Yammamoto, and British Intelligence snuffed SS General Richard Hydrich. Osama's death was entirely justified.

So how would Jesus look at this? The Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was famously saved. While he ran Italy, he invaded the Abyssinian kingdom using weapons of mass destruction (poison gas) to subjecate the population. During the war, he agreed to the German occupation of the Czech Republic, invaded Albania, France and Greece. So far, not a nice resume to show at the Pearly Gates.

Mussolini was imprisoned by his people in 1943, and freed in a daring raid by the Germans. After that experience, Mussolini had a real "Come to Jesus" moment and spent most of his last months with his Priests. When Mussolini was hung from a lampost, I suspect that the last thoughts going through his head were, "I'm going to a far, far better place".

- a nun on Meuse

photogr said...

I feel relieved that he was neuteralized. This was a war against the infidels ( us ) and the radical extreemist. I don't think we are safe now nor were we before his death. We just won one battle, not the war.

Sadly he used religion to hawk his radical ideas and others fell for his thoughts. They are our next battle.

I would think God would want us to defend our selves against all agressors and not lay down and die. He certainly helped out in biblical times with His chosen people in their victories.

To kill is sin period. To prevent being killed is justice given by the hand of God? I don't know but I think God may have had a hand in this action? I don't know. I am relieved to see another tyrant neuteralized.

Charlie's Church of Christ said...

I'm grateful he's out of power but he is just a symbol - and plenty more people hate American even more deeply because of this. I can't celebrate his death, but I understand the relief that it provides.

Tonjia said...

I applaud your audacity in refusing to rejoice in the death of your enemies. I also refuse. Jesus did command us to love our enemies, as the father loves them.
While such a death is justified in the old testament by the law of Moses, no death is justified in Christ who came to give all men life.May my beloved brother rest in peace.

Anders Branderud said...

Hello David!

It is good that Osama Bin Ladin was killed. The Creator has instructed in the Hebrew Bible that one shouldn’t rejoice about it. It is sad that he choose his evil life of living; and that so many in this world choose a way of living which contradicts the Creator’s Instruction Manual.

I would like to comment on this statement of yours: “So, Christians, where should we stand? Here is my take on all this. I don't think that we can rejoice in the death of a sinner who very likely did not have saving faith. ”

Allow me to provide information about what is taught about forgiveness in the Hebrew Bible – after all it is the Words of the Unchanging Creator and thus is still relevant today.

As stipulated in Devarim ["Deuteronomy"] 6:4-9,11:13-21 one is required to keep all of the directives of Torâh′[books of Moses] to one’s utmost—viz., “with all one’s heart, psyche and might [lit. "very"]“—”for the purpose of extending your days and the days of your children… like the days of the heavens above the earth” (i.e., eternal life). According to the Tan’’kh -Yekhezeqeil ["Ezekiel"] chapter 18 et.al – the Creator confer His atonement in His loving kindness to those and only those turning away from their Torah-transgressions and (re)turning to non-selectively Torah-observance – which includes not eating shellfish, observing the Shabbat and many more military-style orders of the Torah.

Thus, the way of ‘salvation’ in NT contradicts Torah and what the Jewish Mashiakh [Messiah] taught [Documentation on this website:Link]. Thus, it will not lead to eternal life. It is only an emotional filled experience that doesn’t describe a real encounter with the Creator. I am a former Christian and understand that after having studied Torah in Hebrew according to etymology.

Study Torah in Hebrew and learn how to relate to the Creator by doing your utmost to observe the directives of Torah non-selectively (including celebration of Shabbat and not eating pork); and this will lead you into an immensely meaningful relationship with the Creator according to the Torah of the unchanging Creator.

Have a nice day!!
Anders Branderud

Anonymous said...


I very much appreciate your thoughtful discussion on the killing of Bin Laden.

Clearly, the Scriptures (OT and NT) state that we are not to rejoice in the death or fall of anybody, even if that person is evil.

The Holy Spirit can bring anybody to an acknowledgment of their sin, can bring anyone to repentance. We see that clearly in the case of Saul (later called Paul), who persecuted Christians, many to their death, and who later experienced a heart-changing conversion.

From one who loves God passionately and wants to grow in compassion and love for all those He has created.

Joyce Lighari said...

First, great blog - I've been pondering these things as well and have not had the courage to write about it myself...
I am not sure how I feel. Or maybe I am not sure how I should feel. I am not a follower and I definitely march to the tune of a different drummer on a lot of things. I just can't reconcile Jesus to this action. Yet, I too mourn for those who died senselessly on 9/11. I grew up in that city. It's my "hometown" that got hit.
I keep coming back to Jesus.
It's easy to reconcile this action when you look at the Old Testament. But then there is Jesus. In Ethics I learned that Jesus is the normative norm that exceeds all other norms in the Bible - in other words Jesus words and actions trumps anything else - and you reminded us well that Jesus said to put back the sword.
I don't think the killing of OBL really will stop terrorism - Only Jesus can cure the evil that lurks in all of our hearts.

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