By now, most of you have heard the news that the US Military has killed Osama bin Laden. His identity was verified, and then he was “buried at sea” in accordance with Islamic tradition.
First, I’ve got a confession to make. I have not been diligent in his case to honor Matthew 5:44 and pray for my enemy. I have, on occasion, prayed that a Bible find its way to him before the bullet did, but I haven’t prayed for his health, wealth, or prosperity. I certainly have prayed that no missionary lose their life trying to carry the Gospel to him and his cohorts.
To be honest, after that morning the phone rang at church and I turned on a TV just in time to see the second tower be hit, I’ve personally wanted all those responsible to face the same fiery fate as their victims. Except I wanted it to be eternal instead of temporary.
I wanted them to see hell for the 3000 lives lost that day. For justice to happen on behalf of the orphans, the widows, the parents. I would have them punished for stealing away the futures of young people, the twilight years of older people, and the heroism of firefighters. Judgment should come for robbing some on those aircraft of the chance to hear the Gospel and maybe, this time, repent.
I would have Bin Laden and his minions punished for the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines that have given their lives in the ten years since to attempt to destroy his terror network. To have him punished for the marriages that have been destroyed by repeated deployments, PTSD, and the continual strain of not knowing if your spouse is coming home.
I would punish al-Qaeda for terrorists they have inspired. For London. For Madrid. For Amman. For Bombay.
After all, he deserves it.
If I had my way, he’d have gotten it.
Yet none of that will send him to hell.
None of that rates the eternal punishment he (based on his expressed religious faith) will receive.
Scripture is clear that the book of life is what controls:
“And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. ” (Revelation 20:15, NASB95)
That book? Filled with the names of the believers in Christ:
“‘He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. ” (Revelation 3:5, NASB95)
Bin Laden faces eternity based on his name being in, or not being in, that book.
Like it or not, that’s actually a good thing. Why?
Should he not be punished for his murders? As much as I should for my anger. (Matthew 5:22)
Should he not be punished for his lies? (Revelation 21:27) What about my lies?
Yet was he not worse? Did he not kill more? In my hatred, have I not killed him 3000 times? Is it that I am not as wicked or that I have just not had the opportunity?
This is why I’m not in charge. I am unrighteous to make eternal decisions. I am not the one to determine who goes where. Rather, “I AM” makes those decisions. He makes them based on His own standards that He established.
What has He said? All have sinned….all have earned death….there is a free gift for all how believe, confess, repent, and are His. (Romans)
I rejoice this morning. Not because “Public Enemy #1 is dead,” because there’s someone to take his place there. Don’t kid yourself: you will still take your shoes off at the airport, walk through metal detectors at major public places, and cringe at low-flying aircraft. The ‘War on Terror’ is not over.
I rejoice because in that fountain, filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins, sinners can wash all their sins away.
And that there may I, though vile as he, wash all my sins away.