I’m in Washington, D.C. this week for meetings that include the National Day of Prayer on Thursday, May 5. Sunday evening I went down to the front steps of the US Capitol where a group of friends were beginning a “Bible-reading Marathon” where the Scriptures are read out-loud from cover to cover over a three day period. We anointed the steps with oil and then the public proclamation of God’s Word began.
Four hours later, now comfortably in my quarters directly behind the US Supreme Court building, I heard the news that President Obama was to make an unusual Sunday night announcement from the White House–just ten few blocks away. I and the nation waited an hour for the president to appear. But before he did (the White House must have been scrambling), the extraordinary news leaked out.
Osama bin Laden was dead.
Forty-five minutes later, the president came on television and told the American people the details of what had happened to the mastermind of 911 who killed thousands of innocent American citizens on September 11, 2001–now nearly ten years ago.
We had gotten our man. Justice had been rendered.
What should be our response?
Here’s how Family Research Council described the significance of the event:
“Four months from now, when Americans unfurl their flags over 10 years of loss, the families of 9/11 can finally mark the anniversary with the assurance that the man responsible has finally met his Maker. Most of us were just sitting down to Sunday dinner while, a half a world away, U.S. forces were engaged in one of the most significant military operations since 2001.”
“After months of coordination with American intelligence officials, an elite team of Navy SEALs stormed Osama bin Laden’s million dollar hideout in suburban Pakistan. With high-ranking security and military personnel watching from a situation room thousands of miles away, the assault was fast and furious. Forty minutes later, President Obama got the news the world had waited two decades to hear: the reign of America’s most wanted terrorist was over.”
“In an operation that showcased the power and precision of the U.S. military, 22 people were killed or captured–Osama bin Laden among them. For years, brave men and women, whose names we will never know, laid down their lives to see this mission accomplished. Today, their sacrifice is not in vain. The United States has sent a message to the world that terrorists can run and hide, but America will not rest until they’re brought to justice.”
There was an incredible atmosphere in the capital city that night. Thousands came down to the White House to celebrate the news. New York City also saw spontaneous crowds show up at Ground Zero–as did other US cities.
As I watched the details unfold, and in the coming forty-eight hours pondered the killing of the world’s most wanted man, I kept asking myself the following question: What should be our response to the death of one of the most evil men of our time?
Here are some of my conclusions. The second-to-last point may surprise you:
First, we should be very grateful for the courageous and skilled men and women of our US armed forces who are protecting our liberties and who exacted justice by killing Osama bin Laden. The elite group of Navy Seals who carried out the mission were amazing in their preparation and success. Behind them were all branches of our armed services who have been gallantly fighting the War of Terror for over a decade in Afghanistan, Iaq, and other nations around the world. Thousands have given their lives in that cause.
Because of their commitment and competence, we are still the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”
I salute our mighty warriors on a job well done. Their work is not finished–the greater war remains. But an evil and charismatic figure who guided much of the mayhem of the last ten years has now been removed from the battle field. This is good news for the world.
A Hitler of our generation is gone.
Thank you US military.
Second, praise is due for the leadership of President Obama, his Administration, those of the CIA and other intelligence branches who didn’t take their eye off the ball in finding the world’s most famous terrorist.
The story is now unfolding on how this operation came into being over the past five months; Five briefings with the president; Plans drawn up to carry out the mission including building a replica of the bin Laden fortress in Abbottobad that would be the site of the siege; The go ahead finally given; The president’s senior team watching and monitoring the mission; The word “Geronimo” being uttered–code for “we’ve found Osama bin Laden” just before his life was taken; Identifying his remains by DNA testing; His burial at sea being sensitive to Muslim practices and the wisdom to not allow a land-based burial “shrine” for the prince of terror.
Good job President Obama and team.
Third, thanks are due to former president George Bush and his administration who faithfully launched America’s response to terrorism after President Clinton’s dithering. George Bush laid the groundwork for the death of UBL. He didn’t get the satisfaction of seeing the terrorist leader brought to justice on his watch, but without his laser beam focus and policies he inaugurated, the Obama Administration would probably not have succeeded.
We are now learning that President Bush’s so-called “harsh interrogation techniques” including water-boarding were vital to getting the information that led to Osama bin Laden’s death. So was the use of Guantanamo Bay as a staging ground for captured enemy combatants.
Let’s put to rest the nonsense about “water-boarding” being torture and Guantanamo Bay needing to be shut down. These techniques are not torture and Guantanamo is necessary.
Thank you President Bush and team for preparing the way for victory.
Fourth, we should be happy for the survivors of 911 and the families who lost loved ones who now have a greater sense of closure after the attack. As President Obama declared, “Justice has been rendered.” That justice cannot bring back a lost loved one, but it reminds us that human life is important and should be avenged when it is unlawfully taken.
I will be visiting New York on Friday and Saturday and look forward to praying and having a greater sense of closure myself at the sight of Ground Zero. I’m sure many will be joining me there this coming weekend.
We need to keep persevering in prayer for the freedom and renewal of Islam worldwide. President Obama said one thing on Sunday night that was not true when he intoned that we were not fighting against the Muslim faith. Yes we are. We are fighting against one form of this global religion that is probably supported by thirty percent of its adherents.
Jihad is not an extreme fringe of the Muslim faith. It is a central teaching to many. Even those who are “peaceful Muslims” must admit that the advance of Islam over the past thirteen centuries has primarily been linked to violence and bloodshed. It is not the exception. It is the rule–from the time of Mohammed to the present day.
Most Muslim people are not murderers. But some of Islam’s tenets support it. They need to be repudiated.
Let’s pray that the current volatility in the Middle East and other Muslim nations will lead to an honest examination of their faith and the total rejection of violence. This could be a day of great salvation for the Muslim world.
Fifth, I was very disappointed by the celebrating in the streets over the death of Osama bin Laden. Though it was good for the world that an evil man had been taken from us, I don’t believe we should giddily applaud the death of anyone–even a mass murderer. Life and death are serious–and should be looked at with self-examination and sobriety. The European response to bin Laden’s death seemed to be more appropriate: sober joy.
Here’s why. As I looked at the pictures of the young people celebrating in the streets of Washington, D.C., I was struck with this reality: We, too, will meet our Maker one day. We, like Osama bin Laden, will have to give an account for the life we’ve lived, the choices we’ve made. That’s where real justice meets each individual–without exception.
As I looked into their celebrating faces, I thought about their lives–and mine. Are they sleeping with their girlfriends and will have to give an account to God? Do they cheat on their tests? Have some of them also joined in Obama bin Laden’s sin by killing other human beings through having an abortion?
Murder is murder–despite the quantity. It’s worthy of death.
When true justice dispensed, it’s not just for dictators. It’s for all of us. We stand on equal ground condemned by the sinful lives we’ve lived either in word or deed.
We should soberly think about that–and repent–before we celebrate or point fingers. Our day is coming too. Are we right with God through faith in Jesus Christ which washes away our sins?
Finally, let’s truly give thanks to God that justice has been achieved in small measure through the death of Osama bin Laden.
The theme of this year’s National Day of Prayer is “A Mighty Fortress is our God.” Let us celebrate his incredible holiness, justice, protection, and love.
That would be our wisest response.