Last night President Obama informed the world that we had finally found and killed Osama Bin Laden. I will admit that my first reaction was gladness that he is dead. I felt relief that our national enemy is finally defeated, and that there is nothing else he can ever do to us. There are people in Times Square shouting and rejoicing that this man is dead. I saw video footage of people singing and dancing in front of the White House, chanting “USA! USA!” and singing “naa naa naa naa, hey hey hey, goodbye!” I asked myself, is this the correct reaction to the death of Osama Bin Laden?
I am currently teaching a Sunday School class on “Thinking Biblically.” It is a study regarding helping others (and myself) reshape our thinking so that we look at ethical and moral decisions through the filter of the Bible, rather than looking at the Bible through the filter of the world. I tell people that I live my life according to the Bible. I had a vague feeling that perhaps joy at Bin Laden’s death was not quite right. A friend on FB reminded me of this by quoting Ezekiel 18:23:
“Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord GOD, “rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?
She also quoted Proverbs 24:17-18:
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.
You see, in God’s eyes, Osama Bin Laden was two things: 1. No more or less a sinner than any other human being (and therefore no more or less deserving of forgiveness than any of us), and 2. a person whom God loved very much and for whom Christ died on the cross. Jesus said in Matthew 5:44:
But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
And Romans 12:20:
BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.
Paul was quoting Proverbs 25:21. You can look it up. I’ll wait.
You see, all we humans are in the same boat: we are sinners doomed to an eternity of punishment in hell. God knew this, and so He sent His Son Jesus Christ to pay the penalty so we could be saved. All we have to do is trust in the death of Christ for forgiveness, and we are saved from Hell! In God’s eyes sin is sin, and no human is any more or less deserving of hell than anybody else. That is why God commands us to be witnesses of Jesus Christ, telling others the good news of salvation so that they too can be rescued from Hell. God’s wish from Ezekiel 24 is that we all would turn away from our sin and live eternally with him.
Our strategy here on earth is not to defeat our enemies, but to bring them over to God’s side. If we are unsuccessful, we have failed. So what is the proper view on the death of Osama Bin Laden? We lost one forever.
I am glad that he is no longer able to hurt people, and I firmly believe in protecting your family because the Bible teaches that one who does not care for his own family is worse than an unbeliever. Does he deserve to spend eternity in Hell for his sins? Yes. But so do we all.