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13:1 Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.
13:4 for it is a minister of God to you 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
How should we as Christians feel about the death of the wicked?
Should we rejoice in the justice and wrath of God being poured out on unrepentant sinners who so callously destroy other lives as bin Laden has done? What about the not quite so famous sinners? What about the everyday murderers, liars, cheaters, and idolaters? Do we happily post on Facebook when the drunkard dies in a violent car crash?
When God says through the Apostle Paul in Romans 12:19:
"Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, " VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord."
He is speaking of us as individuals and our interpersonal relationships with those around us and not the duties and authority of Government to act as a divinely instituted entity. Even as flawed as ours and all governments are, God is still Sovereign and Providentially controls the course of human history through the use of secondary causes to execute His will.
Psalm 58:10-11 The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance;
He will wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.
And men will say, "Surely there is a reward for the righteous;
Surely there is a God who judges on earth!
God judges the quick and the dead and is readily apparent both in the Scriptures and life since even a casual observation reveals that the wages of sin is death . Does it matter who or what God uses to bring about the just payment for a life lived apart from Him? God throughout the Old Testament used pagan nations to judge His people, Israel, to drive them to repentance and finally into exile through the conquest of the Assyrians and the Babylonians and disciplines His people today ( Hebrews 12:5-11 ). This discipline, however, is not equivalent to the wrath reserved for the wicked. We should be exuberant over the fact that a righteous judge ( God ) is the final arbiter on what is and is not just, what is holy and unholy, and what is good or evil and judges these things according to His immutable character.
This brings up another question: Does God gleefully sit and rejoice over the death of the wicked?
God, when speaking through Ezekiel to the exiles, declared,
"Say to them, ' As I live!' declares the Lord GOD, 'I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?'( Ezekiel 33:11 )
God repeatedly in His Word exhorts sinners to repentance. The Gospel was preached through Abraham ( Galatians 3:8 ), the Word became flesh and preached the Gospel of the Kingdom to Israel ( Matthew 4:23 ), and it will be preached to all nations ( Matthew 24:14 ). This neither means that God effectually calls every person nor that any person is worthy of salvation, but that there is a general call to turn from wickedness and to the Lord. The problem is sin since neither do we seek the Lord nor are we righteous in and of ourselves. Did bin Laden have the opportunity to repent? Was His heart hardened beyond repair ( remember Pharaoh and Moses )? Is yours?
We are looking forward to the day when all is made right, when our King returns and judges all things, and sin and those who delight in it will be finally and irrevocably judged. Until then I believe that we should both rejoice and grieve: rejoice over the just judgments of God and grieve over the affects sin has upon creation. We should praise God for His faithful vengeance and sorrow over the depravity of the human heart. We should humbly bow before the Savior who has set us free from the bondage of sin and pray for His mercy and grace to draw others to repentance.
There is a time to rejoice and a time to be sorrowful: Do these times often intertwine? How about now?
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