By Michael Bradley
Should Christians Rejoice Over the Death of Their Enemies?
As you have all heard, Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the attack of 9/11, was found and killed by one of our US Navy Seal teams in Pakistan.
When the news first broke, many people across our nation started to celebrate and rejoice in the streets. The news media then went to a lot of our college campuses, as many of the college students were celebrating and rejoicing very intensely in the streets.
Due to the widespread rejoicing that started to occur, many people started to question as to whether or not they should be intensely rejoicing like this over the death of one of our major enemies over the last 10 years. This topic has even come up in some of the Christian talk shows, forums and blogs, as some people were wondering if they were going too far with all of this intense rejoicing.
Another major news story that broke not too long after was the case of Chris Coleman. For those of you who have not heard about this story, Chris Coleman was a bodyguard for Joyce Meyer Ministries. He had worked for her ministry for 11 years.
He was found guilty of first-degree murder, as he had murdered his wife and two young sons in pure, cold blood. He apparently was wanting to get out of his marriage to be with his mistress, and he did not want to lose the big salary he was earning with Joyce Meyer Ministries. People who have been following this case have been wondering how could a born-again, Christian man working for one of the biggest Bible teaching ministries in all of the world do something so evil and so horrific.
When the verdict was first announced, once again there was major celebration and rejoicing out on the streets among the people who were waiting for the verdict to come in. Someone who had committed pure evil was now found guilty and true justice had been finally handed down by the criminal justice system.
For those of you who would like to have God’s opinion on this issue as to whether or not we as Christians should be celebrating and rejoicing at the defeat of our enemies, I thought I would do this article for all of you so I could give you some of the main verses from the Bible on this issue.
When you look very carefully at the verses I will give you, I believe this is another type of revelation that has two sides to it – like looking at a two sided coin.
The Bible is giving us two sets of verses on this topic. One set will tell us that God the Father does not want us rejoicing over the death of the wicked, but yet another set will tell us it is okay to be rejoicing at the defeat of our enemies. Is this a contradiction? I do not believe so, as the Bible cannot contradict itself. What this means when you get two sides to an issue is that they are both right and you need to look at both ends of it.
I will first give you the Scripture verses giving you both sides to this argument, and then I will show you how you can put both of them together so you can see what kind of attitude you should have when facing this kind of issue in today’s world.
The Scripture Verses
Here are the first set of verses that will tell us that God will not want us to be rejoicing when our enemy falls.
1. “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; lest the Lord see it, and it displease Him, and He turn away His wrath from him.” (Proverbs 17:17-18)
2. “Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” says the Lord God, “and not that he should turn from his ways and live?” (Ezekiel 18:23)
3. “Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’ (Ezekiel 33:11)
4. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
5. “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? … Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:44-48)
Now here are the second set of verses where they are telling us that people back in the OT did rejoice over the defeat and death of their enemies.
1. “When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices, and when the wicked perish, there is shouting.” (Proverbs 11:10)
2. “The righteous shall rejoice when he sees the vengeance; he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.” (Psalm 58:10)
3. “So all the people of the land rejoiced; and the city was quiet, for they had slain Athaliah with the sword in the king’s house.” (2 Kings 11:20)
4. “The wicked is banished in his wickedness, but the righteous has a refuge in his death.” (Proverbs 14:32)
Notice the 2nd verse says that not only did they rejoice when they saw God exact His vengeance upon the evil and wicked, but they washed their feet in the blood that was shed. I do not know if washing their feet in their blood was really done or if it was just a figure of speech, but in either event, this is a very intense verse.
So how do you put these two kinds of verses together so we can see how God wants us to handle these types of events in today’s world?
1. When I first heard about Osama being found and killed, my very first reaction was one of pure joy, elation, and exuberance. A man who had committed nothing but pure evil in the short amount of time he had on this earth is now gone forever.
Never again will Osama bin Laden be able to do any more evil on this earth. Never again will he be able to mastermind another terror plot. Never again will he try to influence his followers to strap on bombs to young children so he could turn them into suicide bombers. Never again will he be able to spread his hate for all of the Christian and Jewish people of this world, along with all of his hate for the United States and all of our allies.
The fact that he is now gone forever and will never again be responsible for another innocent death upon this earth produced a lot of initial joy and elation in my emotions. However, that joy and elation then quickly turned into intense sadness and sorrow, as I then realized that there is a very good chance that this man is now burning alive in the pits of hell as a result of never finding his true Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, along with the fact that he had chosen to live this life out on the dark side.
This man was extremely wealthy. He could have easily used his wealth and fame to find Jesus and then set about to do good works for the Lord instead of choosing to live a life of pure evil.
The fact that this man is probably in hell right now with no chance of ever being able to make it back out again to make things right with the Lord produced an intense sadness and sorrow in my spirit.
Now when I think about this entire event, my sadness and sorrow has now completely overridden my initial emotions of joy and elation. All I see now is a life and soul totally lost forever, a life that has been totally wasted and squandered. A life that was totally lost to Satan and his demons, as they played this man like a fiddle during the short time he was up here on this earth. They played him right over the edge of the cliff, and now he will be held completely responsible for all of his evil actions when he comes before the Lord in the Great White Throne Judgment.
To think that this man had one chance to get it right before the Lord, and he then completely blew his one and only chance is something that I think even God Himself grieves over, as He has now lost one of His very own creations for all of eternity due to the evil choices he had made in this life with his own free will.
If you look very closely at the first set of verses, notice that God has absolutely “no pleasure in the death of the wicked.” Why?
Because He knows they will end up in the Lake of Fire and Brimstone for all of eternity with no chance of ever being able to make it back out again to make things right with Him. Once they are dropped into hell upon their physical death, there will be no second chances or any kinds of appeals. God’s judgment will be full and final, and their fate will be forever sealed in this horrible place of torment for all of eternity.
When you really think about the real big picture, this is why God grieves and takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, because He knows exactly what their final fates and endings are going to end up being. This is why I believe God also wants us to take no pleasure in the defeat and death of the wicked, because of the eternal consequences of their evil actions and where they are all going to end up at.
2. However, how do you line up the second set of verses with this first set? These second set of verses are telling us that God’s people back in the OT did rejoice when their enemies were defeated.
My best guess on how we can put these two kinds of verses together is that we can rejoice and celebrate when these kinds of evil and wicked people are taken out of our world, as they will no longer be able to do any more evil upon this earth. For the people who have been enslaved under their evil grip and rule, they will now be totally free if no other evil people take their place.
However, we are NOT to rejoice and celebrate as to where all of these evil people will end up going all of eternity – and that is to the Lake of Fire and Brimstone where the Bible says that the smoke of their torment will ascend forever and ever.
If the Bible’s description of hell is to be interpreted very literally, you would not even want your worst enemy to be going down there, as these horrible living conditions will last for all of eternity.
To think that a certain percentage of the human race is going to end up in this horrible place of torment and agony for all of eternity is just heart-breaking and gut-wrenching, especially when all of these evil people had every chance to get it right with the Lord when living upon this earth.
This kind of extreme, final ending for these evil people is why I believe that God does not want us rejoicing when these evil people are finally brought down and taken off of this earth by Him for their final judgments.
Bottom line – we can temporarily rejoice because these evil people will no longer be upon this earth to do any more evil – but we are not to rejoice as to where they are going to end up going, which will be the Lake of Fire and Brimstone for all of eternity.
Michael Bradley of Bible Knowledge Ministries