Content & Images © 2008-2014 - Rachel Miller, Ink Road Originals LLC, All Rights Reserved

Monday, May 2, 2011

When the Wicked Fall

The wicked man will see [the blessings of the righteous] and be vexed, he will gnash his teeth and waste away; the longings of the wicked will come to nothing. --Psalm 112: 16 NIV 2011

Last night, the news and airwaves buzzed with the announcement that Osama bin Laden had been killed, and his body captured.  People sang and danced in New York city at the news.  I can't say I wasn't at least heartened to hear the news, myself.  The truth is, I do see it as a victory, not so much for America, but rather, for justice and goodness that knows no international boundaries.  I can say that, although I was glad that a tiny bit of justice had been meted out on this earth (it is so rare, and often so tainted these days), I wasn't jumping up and down and singing.

So how should we react when the news reaches our ears that a criminal, a sinner, has fallen in his sins?  This has been a source of somewhat heated debate in a few places, such as Facebook, already today.  Is it right, or Christian, to cheer or say, "praise God" when a man, like Osama, has been punished for murder?  How about a man who has committed lesser offenses against us?  If someone like that gets punishment, what kind of attitude does God expect us to have when we receive the news?

I take my inspiration from David, and how he reacted to the news that Saul was dead (2 Samuel 1).  Now, up until the news arrived, Saul had been hunting him, his friends, and his wives and children.  David wrote many psalms in this era of his life, asking God to punish his enemies and grant him justice.  Finally reaching the point of desperation, he and his men had moved out of the country to get away from Saul.  Even so, when he and his men got word that Saul and Jonathan were dead, they wept and mourned.  Were they crazy?

I realize that part of their tears came over the loss of David's best friend, and part of them came over the disaster that had come upon their whole country as a result of Saul.  Even so, I see that their overall reaction to the justice they had asked God to grant them, was that of soberness and grief.

It is a sobering thing when someone, bent on destruction, finally is destroyed.  Those who seek the Lord understand justice (Proverbs 28: 5)--they understand that justice comes because of disobedience.  When justice is served, it is cause to reflect on sin and its consequences.  It ought to remind us to fear those same punishments, and seek righteousness, so that we don't have to come to the same end.

As for our feelings toward evildoers, I don't see any evidence that we have to mourn the end of their reign of terror (Proverbs 11: 10; Proverbs 28: 28), but I do see that we ought to recognize the tragedy that is their lives.  Yes, I called it a tragedy!  The verse I put at the beginning of this post illustrates it perfectly.  Evil people's choices, and their stubbornness in continuing to do evil, make them pathetic, even laughable, in the end.  They might get a lot of things from their evil, but they die without ever getting what they really wanted.  So much talent and intelligence wasted!  What a terrible summary of their lives!  It isn't right to rejoice that a man chose destruction, and got it, because we could have come to the same end, had we not found Jesus.

This is how I believe we should receive the news that a wicked man has fallen:  (1) We should rejoice that God has once again made a spectacle of sin, so that no one should think it is desirable;  (2) We should praise God for His righteousness, which saves and changes hearts so that those who submit to God can be spared the wages of sin; (3)  We should soberly recognize the devastation that sin brings, and pray for our enemies, that they, through repentance, may be delivered from that certain destruction!

Every time we hear that a sinner has fallen, let us pray that other sinners will fear justice, now that they have seen it, and turn and obey.  Let us pray that it doesn't have to end with weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13: 47-50).  May they fall to their knees in repentance, and find eternal mercy in Christ, rather than suffer the eternal death that the law requires for sin.  This is our Christian duty--to love our worst enemies, because Christ loved us first (1 John 4: 19).

Do not gloat when your enemy falls;
   when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice,  

  or the Lord will see and disapprove
   and turn his wrath away from them.
Do not fret because of evildoers
   or be envious of the wicked, 
  for the evildoer has no future hope,
   and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out.--Proverbs 24: 17-22 NIV 2011