As mentioned in Part One of this article, the biblical material regarding evil and the enemies of God is a bit more complex than many assume. Thus how we are to assess the death of Gaddafi depends on how clear we are about the entire biblical revelation on these issues. Here I continue to look at some of the many passages on this topic.
More rejoicing at the defeat of evil can be found in 1 Samuel 25:37-39: “Then in the morning, when Nabal was sober, his wife told him all these things, and his heart failed him and he became like a stone. About ten days later, the LORD struck Nabal and he died. When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, ‘Praise be to the LORD, who has upheld my cause against Nabal for treating me with contempt. He has kept his servant from doing wrong and has brought Nabal’s wrongdoing down on his own head’.”
Once again people are praising the Lord at the defeat of evil and the destruction of the wicked, and we find nothing wrong with this. The Book of Esther is one long story about this very thing. Out of it comes the feast of Purim. And what is that famous Jewish feast all about? It is about celebrating the death of God’s enemies. Consider just one passage, Esther 8:11-17:
“The king’s edict granted the Jews in every city the right to assemble and protect themselves; to destroy, kill and annihilate the armed men of any nationality or province who might attack them and their women and children, and to plunder the property of their enemies. The day appointed for the Jews to do this in all the provinces of King Xerxes was the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar. A copy of the text of the edict was to be issued as law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality so that the Jews would be ready on that day to avenge themselves on their enemies. The couriers, riding the royal horses, went out, spurred on by the king’s command, and the edict was issued in the citadel of Susa.
“When Mordecai left the king’s presence, he was wearing royal garments of blue and white, a large crown of gold and a purple robe of fine linen. And the city of Susa held a joyous celebration. For the Jews it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honor. In every province and in every city to which the edict of the king came, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating. And many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them.”
Here we have the celebration of the death of Haman, who like Bin Laden and so many other Middle Eastern thugs today, wanted to destroy the entire Jewish nation. God however intervened big time and Haman was hung on his own gallows. This was a cause of great celebration for the Jews, and so it should have been.
There are numerous psalms and proverbs which can also be appealed to here. Consider just some of them:
Ps 7:6: Arise, LORD, in your anger;
rise up against the rage of my enemies.
Awake, my God; decree justice.
1 I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
2 I will be glad and rejoice in you;
I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.
3 My enemies turn back;
they stumble and perish before you.
4 For you have upheld my right and my cause,
sitting enthroned as the righteous judge.
5 You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked;
you have blotted out their name for ever and ever.
6 Endless ruin has overtaken my enemies,
you have uprooted their cities;
even the memory of them has perished.
7 The LORD reigns forever;
he has established his throne for judgment.
8 He rules the world in righteousness
and judges the peoples with equity.
9 The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
Ps 44:7-8: but you give us victory over our enemies,
you put our adversaries to shame.
8 In God we make our boast all day long,
and we will praise your name forever.
Ps 58:10-11 The righteous will be glad when they are avenged, when they dip their feet in the blood of the wicked. Then people will say, “Surely the righteous still are rewarded; surely there is a God who judges the earth.”
Ps 60:12: With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.
Ps 68:1-2: May God arise, may his enemies be scattered;
may his foes flee before him.
2 May you blow them away like smoke—
as wax melts before the fire,
may the wicked perish before God.
Ps 92:9: For surely your enemies, LORD,
surely your enemies will perish;
all evildoers will be scattered.
Ps 118:6-7: The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?
7 The LORD is with me; he is my helper.
I look in triumph on my enemies.
Ps 139:21-22: Do I not hate those who hate you, LORD,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
Proverbs 1:25–26: [Wisdom calls out:] Because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when terror strikes you.
Proverbs 11:10: When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices; when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.
At the return of Christ we will see similar scenes of rejoicing when God’s enemies are dealt with. Consider Revelation 18:20: Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment for you against her!
Many more such texts can be offered here. The point is, there is a place to rejoice when evil is judged, and when the wicked receive their just deserts. Of course as I already mentioned, our job is to evangelise, and to tell everyone the good news of the gospel.
We were all enemies of God at one time, so we must always remain humble and on our knees. But at the end of the day there are only two sorts of people: those who have laid down their arms and surrendered to Christ, and those who remain in rebellion and defiance.
We need to pray for the lost and seek to win them for Christ. But we must also affirm God’s righteous and just standards, and not water them down with worldly sentimentalism and liberal notions of tolerance. Undoubtedly Gaddafi has had his opportunities over the years to respond to the gospel. Now he stands before his maker to give an account of those opportunities.
I for one am glad he is no longer terrorising, torturing and killing his own and other people. He lived a long life, and would have had many chances to turn to God. Only God knows where he is at spiritually. But it is judgment day for him, as it will be for every single one of us. The most important thing we can do is be ready for that day, and agree with God about his just judgments.
Part One of this article is here: billmuehlenberg.com/2011/10/21/gaddafi-evil-and-our-response-part-one/