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The Bible and the death of Bin Laden

Obviously the news has been full of the details concerning the death of the terror mastermind, Osama bin Laden.  When President Obama said:”Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children” – it set off a huge reaction here in the states and around the globe.  While most here in the States joyfully celebrated and rightfully gave thanks to our military personnel, some others, as expected ,said such reaction was ‘barbaric, etc…’ The question came up to me numerous times yesterday, “How should we react?”  In other words, ‘how should we feel when we see a wrong person brought to justice at the hand of civil government?’

While not exhaustive by any means, here are a few Biblical principles for a Christ-follower to consider:

1. Romans 13:1-5 clearly says that the government is a “minister of God for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.”  The killing of bin Laden was fully justified by the demands of just war theory, the historic Christian means of moral reasoning that measures the justification for acts of lethal force.  Bin Laden was the one human being most responsible for a series of terrorist attacks that left thousands of civilians dead.  He claimed responsibility and pledged future attacks.

2. Proverbs 24:17-18 says, “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.” The word for rejoice means “be arrogant, mocking”.  However, Proverbs 21:15 tells us “the exercise of justice is joy for the righteous, but is terror to the workers of iniquity.” So, on one hand we are told not to rejoice and on the other hand to also rejoice.  So what we have is somewhat of a mixed emotion. I have a deep sense of joy, patriotism, and thanksgiving that our military had the means and will to remove this threat.  There is a sense of satisfaction that a person who has harmed so many has been brought to justice.  There is also a sense of sadness that a human being, made in the image of God, would be so given over to evil that he would callously murder many innocent people.  There is a sadness when any person dies without Christ and suffers eternal punishment.  I guess the phrase I heard Al Mohler use sums up my feelings: sober satisfaction.

27 Comments

  1. Bruce,

    Great article and biblical/scriptural view of this current and most important world event! Sober satisfaction is an excellent way to describe the emotions I too feel at this time!

  2. Thank you, honey, for this balanced and scriptural perspective. No one can break down deep truths into bite sized pieces better than you. This really helps.

  3. This is by far the most “no-nonsense” response I have seen so far. Thank you for sharing this biblical perspective. I too think we have an awesome military, made up of the best men and women that we could ask for. We should be very thankful and proud of them for what they do for us everyday. But I personally can’t wait for this news to die down.

  4. Yes, certainly, Bruce, sober satisfaction is a perfect discription of what I feel in my heart. Prayers from all over the globe have been answered by God in His perfect timing.

  5. Pastor Bruce,

    There is always one thing we at BBC can always count on and that is hearing a word from God through you no matter what the situation is. I thank you for being a man of intergerty and always standing firm on God’s word and leading by a outstanding example.

  6. I have felt these “mixed emotions” and now I can appreciate that I have a scriptural basis for them. Thank you, Pastor, for helping me understand my feelings. Another example of what you mentioned on Sunday. These scriptures seem to be written just for this time.

  7. Thanks for sharing a biblical perspective on this situation. As my girls have grown up, we have had many discussions about the Just War Theory, the Government, the military, etc. and how we reconcile all the emotions of patriotism and sadness during peace and times of war.

  8. Thank you Pastor Bruce for explaining this. I am very proud of our country and our men and women of the military. To see that there is a biblical reasoning for the emotions that I am experiencing. Biblical perspective for current times. Thank you for standing on God’s word! I am proud that you are our pastor!

  9. Pastor Bruce,

    Thanks for the excellent insight about the death of bin Laden. I have felt that justice was done, but did not want to be joyful about anyone’s death. You put it in perfect perspective.

  10. It is both an honor and a privilege to call you Pastor of me and my family
    With great respect,
    The Thomas’

  11. Hey Pastor,

    Amen to sober satisfaction. I had the verse from chapter 24 on my brain that whole day, but the one from Proverbs 21 is also helpful. Thanks for digging deeper than I did as I have been busy with 2 Timothy all week–oh yeah!

  12. While I appreciate the biblical references to justify this organized murder of another human being, as a pastor I struggle with using the Bible to justify it. Bin Laden also used his Bible to justify, as many Muslims do, so are we any better than they? The Bible also says love your enemy, turn the other cheek and Jesus stood for justice through love and understanding and as a follower of Jesus this killing in the name of “justice” does not sit well with me. I also fear for my American neighbours because I feel this action will be retaliated as the Taliban fight as gangs fight. When a wrong is perceived then they up the wrong. Blessings to you all.

    1. Cynthia, thanks for your comments. However, bin Laden did not use a Bible but a Quaran to justify his actions (although I do know the Bible has also been twisted before to rationalize evil). While Jesus did focus on patience when personally wronged, He did not teach complete passivism (one example was driving moneychangers out with a whip). Romans 13 clearly teaches there is a time for a civil government to use “the sword”. While the Taliban probably will retaliate, they had never stopped fighting.

  13. PASTOR YOUR ARE RIGHT .am writing this comment from zambia africa the news come like a flood .we are all pleased because what we saw on sept 11th was not good not to talk of a man boasting about that evil act good job (busa).bemba word for pastor.

  14. Pastor Bruce,

    Thank you for the clear and scriptural thoughts re the death of Obama Bin Laden. It helps me to clarify my thoughts re the “mixed emotions” of this event. Blessings to you and your family. Elver Mendenhall Assistant Pastor Rancho Christian Center. Rancho Cucamonga, CA

  15. Bruce, It was refreshing to see there are other pastors that take a true Biblical look at Bin Ladens death – thanks Asso. pastor Coumminty Bible Church Bob Glab
    2 Timothy 3:16

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