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Dr. James C. Denison
President, Center for Informed Faith, Dallas, TX
May 2, 2011

The death of Osama bin Laden

You will never forget where you were when you first heard about the attacks of 9/11. Now you’ll never forget where you were when you heard that Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the worst terrorism assault in U.S. history, has been killed.

This is a day of historic significance. In coming essays we’ll look at bin Laden’s life and legacy and examine the present strength and threat of al Qaeda, the organization he led. We’ll ask ourselves what this event means to the future of our war against terror and the pro-democracy movement sweeping the Arab world.

For this morning, however, let’s respond to President Obama’s announcement by thinking biblically about the death of Osama bin Laden. What does God’s word say to this event? Two words come immediately to mind: “justice” and “grace.”

First, Scripture reminds us that sin is inevitably punished, in this life or the next, because God is just. From Hitler’s suicide to Saddam Hussein’s execution to Osama bin Laden’s death, tyrants and despots always lose the battle to lead history. Lenin’s Soviet Union lies on the trash heap of history; who remembers Manuel Noriega or Slobodan Milosevic today?

God’s word teaches that “a man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7). Jesus warned us that “all who draw the sword will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). We should not be surprised that the mastermind of the worst assault against American citizens in our history would die in a military assault. God is holy and just: “The Lord reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment. He will judge the world in righteousness and govern the peoples with justice” (Psalm 9:7-8).

Second, Scripture calls us to receive and share God’s grace. Our Father wants us to pray for radical Muslims the world over to abandon their war against innocent citizens and receive his grace in Christ. Jesus taught us: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. . . . If you love only those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” (Matthew 5:43-45, 46).

Why must we pray for our enemies? Because only God can change human hearts. If we could effect peace, they would not be our enemies. Only God’s Spirit can lead radical Muslims from the darkness of Satan’s deception into the light of God’s love.

What are your thoughts on this historic event? As we will see tomorrow, the death of Osama bin Laden will not end the war on terror. Only one death in human history has ever brought peace to the human heart. Where do you need his peace today?

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