Just as I very clearly remember how I received the awful news of 9-11, I will remember how I received the news of the death of Osama bin Laden. After a quiet evening studying in my den, namely The Oxford History of Christian Worship and some chess study and casual online chess chat with a friend, I was near signing off from the Internet Chess Club and retiring to bed when I noticed someone “shouting” on ICC that Osama was dead.
I suspected that was someone goofing around or a spurious rumour. But I immediately looked around online, and sure enough. I immediately turned the TV on (By the way, as much as I prefer Fox to CNN, CNN ate Fox’s lunch last night.) and surfed around. Sometime after Obama’s speech, I made myself go to bed, still a bit wired by the news.
Which brings me briefly to my subject. I’ve noticed some Christians feel a bit awkward about rejoicing in the news. Allow me to ease your conscience.
From scripture, there is no question God prefers evil men to come to their senses and repent instead of dying in their sins. However, also from scripture, there is also no question that deadly judgment upon the heads of evil men who refuse to repent is an occasion for rejoicing. We see this in the Psalms, in the Revelation of John (e.g. 16:4-7), and in the Song of Moses (Exodus 15). In that song, the Hebrews clearly rejoice in God drowning Pharaoh’s army. And surely, that army was not nearly as evil as Osama.
Much more can be said. And the subject is surely more complex than how I present it here. But let us not overanalyze or be oversensitive. We recognize that God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (I Timothy 2:4, NASB) At the same time, there is a long and prominent Biblical tradition of rejoicing in the justice of God rained down on the sniff necks of unrepentant men.
So, yes, it is o.k. to rejoice today.
And I intend so to do.