“Hey, Hey, Hey, Goodbye!”

Nearly ten years ago, while Americans wept over the September 11th attacks on the United States, news crews in Palestine showed men and women dancing in the streets as they chanted, “Death to the USA!”  At the time, I remember how amazed I was at such a calloused response by a people.  However, last night it was our turn.  After President Obama announced that Osama Bin Laden had been killed by U.S. military forces, men and women took to the streets outside of the White House and they chanted, “Nah, nah, nah, nah, hey, hey, hey, goodbye” and “USA, USA, USA!”

As I watched this reaction, I immediately recalled the words of the Lord when he said, “As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live…” (Ezekiel 33:11). In light of the Lord’s eternal perspective, you decide if such dancing in the streets is appropriate.

Consider some additional thoughts.

  1. I am not opposed to justice.  I am not a pacifist.  God gives government authority to execute wrath upon evil-doers (Romans 13).  Bin Laden was guilty of crimes worthy of death.  I support the USA in their military action.
  2. I have a dual citizenship.  I am a citizen of the USA and a citizen of Heaven.  I have loyalties to both.  I have a deep sense of nationalism that runs through me, but I must continually keep in check the priorities of my citizenships.  I am first and foremost a citizen of Heaven.  Never do I want to lose sight of my Heavenly citizenship and its agenda as I pursue a temporal agenda of my national citizenship.
  3. I also am well aware of the many imprecatory psalms and statements sprinkled throughout the Old and New Testaments.  These statements invite calamity upon those who oppose God.  However, I believe that these imprecatory statements have to be interpreted in light of divine justice and a pursuit of God’s divine agenda.  The chants of “USA, USA, USA” betray the purpose of the rejoicing that was taking place in the streets.  These people were not celebrating because gone was one who stood in opposition to God.  They weren’t celebrating because they saw this as a great step forward for God’s kingdom.  They were celebrating, not because they are children of God, but because they are Americans.  To apply the imprecatory statements of the Bible to nationalism rather than God’s divine agenda, is a misuse and misunderstanding of these statements.

I would simply suggest that before we take to the streets in celebration, we remember who we are.  We are the people of God who have been given the task of reaching the lost.  While I defend the right of government to enforce capital punishments, I don’t defend speaking and behaving  in such a way that when such actions are required, that I alienate those who I am trying to reach with the gospel.

(Why don’t you share your thoughts to this post.  Also, if you haven’t noticed, there is a new “like” button at the end of every post on this page.  Click it if you like it).

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Comments 33

  • Well put, I think everyone should read this, I am going to direct people on my facebook page to your blog.

  • Steve,
    I really appreciate the views you’ve presented on this topic. To be honest I’ve virtually removed myself entirely from the more political aspects of our culture unless they have to deal with social justice or oppression of the weak. Last night’s celebration only solidified my stance and I believe that you “hit the nail on the head” as to why. Thanks.

  • Thanks Steve,

    I’ve been having mixed emotions over this, and you stated it clearly. I believed that the punishment fit the crime, but I’m having problems dealing with the “party atmosphere” that is going along with it. As evil as the man was, it is still one more lost soul.

  • Steve,

    The greatest “terror” threat from those who practice Islam is not that they can bring physical harm to individuals; as horrific as such is, the greatest terror threat from those who practice Islam is that they are sending countless souls to Hell through their teaching (whether the followers are militant or peaceful). The error of their teaching is what must be hated (Psalm 119:104 & 128; Psalm 139:19-22).

    I do worry about our nation’s misplaced trust. Whether it be displays like last night or a Toby Keith song, often we look to our military might and trust in it, rather than turning to our God in whom our trust should be placed. God is in control and will meet out justice…of course with providence we cannot place a finger on His actions.

    I hesitate writing anything at this point because of how some may view my thoughts. I think often times people, especially those who were so directly impacted by 911 (those who lost loved ones and who have right to be angry and desire justice…as you noted) act in ways that they might not normally act as they are caught up in the emotions (very understandable early reaction). It is good to have men like you who are willing to give a perspective that can be beneficial. I pray that our country turn to God and His power (as they did after 911 for a short time)and remain with Him. Thanks for your thoughts.

  • Steve, Thank you for your perspective. We must never rush too quickly to react and/or behave out of emotion without considering the truth.

    After your thought provoking perspective, I went to what I thought was a close parallel in the Bible to the events of last evening and that being the death of Goliath. After the death of Goliath, the soldiers persued the Philistines and spoiled them. On their return home from battle, the people came into the streets and celebrated. God punished Saul for being jealous of David, but there is indication that he was displeased with their celebration.

    While I think celebration is over the top I think a sense of nationalism is appropriate because we too are at war and our Goliath was killed in battle.

    I do agree with the thought of dual citizenship and do believe that we MUST ALWAYS be and behave as Christians first and foremost and that may mean that we tone down our “joy” of the occasion for the sake of letting our light so shine before men.

    Just another perspective.

    Thanks Steve for your bringing the Bible to the forefront of this and many issues.

    Dennis Hogan

  • Steve, I agree with you. I felt a sadness because Satan has won another soul, we should never rejoice in the fact that Satan wins. Osama Bin Laden was an evil man, but he did have a soul.
    Thank you, Steve!

  • Just a clarification…I was not implying that we should not be concerned or fight physical terror or terrorist (nor were you). I am thankful for the men and women who serve and for those who fulfilled that Romans 13 role of justice that God allows. We cannot compare ourselves to Israel of old. The Israel of God today, the Church, has a spiritual, rather than a physical battle (Ephesians 6:10ff). As a nation, God allows those who fill the Romans 13 role to bring justice.

  • I really appreciate your words and this lesson! I was one of those who was celebrating last night at his death, until I read your first post on Facebook. It truly humbled me! I did forget that I am first a citizen of Heaven and I am truly sorry I forgot.
    I completely agree with your words and ideas here, as we as Christians sometimes seem to forget that we should be concerned with Heaven first or that it’s ok to be Americans. We seem to take it to one side or the other and don’t realize that God allows us to be both, as long as our first loyalty is Him.
    While I do support our government and especially our military (very vocal supporter of our military!!), I no longer rejoice in Bin Laden’s death. Rather, I appreciate our military for their job well done, I thank our government for their efforts to keep this country safe, and I pray that God may have mercy upon his soul, as the Lord is the only One who may sit in judgement of Bin Laden and the only One who knew his heart! I am glad that is not my job!!!
    Thanks again for your prespective and for setting my eyes back where they should have been all along!!!

  • Some of these folks may be celebrating because they are Christians, and most are probably celebrating because they are Americans. I’m happy to be both, I’m a Christian and a proud American. These people have a right to celebrate today. I’m kind of guessing that based on the age of most of these people, they have no idea why they’re celebrating. And they look rather silly, and it’s not a particularly Christian atmosphere. I do understand we need to be careful with our “appearances” even when we have a right to do something.

  • Steve, great comments. I too thought that the celebration of the death of someone was out of place. Yes, he deserved death just as many crimnals deserve death for the crimes that they have committed, but we should not rejoice that a soul is lost in eternity even though they deserved their punishment. As you said the Lord has never “rejoiced” in the death of the wicked. It should always be our prayer that these people will change from their evil ways. Thanks again for some very pertinent comments. (We too appreciate our military and men in uniform who defend our freedom. We are thankful that they are on that line.)

  • Too bad about the title. I have just indicated that I like “Hey, Hey, Hey, Goodbye!” when, actually, I don’t. Still, the article was on target.

  • Steve,
    Challenging thougths indeed which show the challening ethic Jesus calls us to follow. As I heard the news and witnessed the celebrations on television this morning, I thought, what would an observer of all this think? Would he think we were any different from the Muslims who celebrated when the planes destroyed the World Trade Center and sent 1,300 people into eternity? And that saddened me. As Christians, as you well pointed out, we need to have our minds set on something other than the world and its powers and enticements. Thanks for your insight.

  • I totally agree. No one should celebrate the death if someone who is dying outside of Christ. We still don’t know what is in store as far as retaliation also.

  • Far too few people take seriously the imperative of 1Thessalonians 4:11 ” And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you”
    The idea behind “study to be quiet” is that we should be diligent not to get caught up in the constantly stirring turmoils of this present world. We have more pressing and important tasks as Christians than to go out into political protests or street revelries.
    That a very dangerous man has been stopped from further harming others in this world is a good thing, but a reminder of a lost soul in hell ought to sober our minds immediately.

  • I pray every day that the people of God’s world will put him first in all we do.I will save my celebrating until the time I see my savior face to face in my Father’s Kingdom.

  • I appreciate it when our government executes its God given role to protect the innocent and law-abiding and punish the evil (Romans 13). I see very little difference between what happened to Bin Laden and the recent convictions (one with a death sentence) in the murders of two young people in Knoxville within the past couple of years. The scale is just bigger. Obviously, no one rejoices in the death of the wicked. I strongly suspect that Bin Laden would have gladly cut the throat (a la Daniel Pearl) of anyone who tried to teach him the gospel, which would require showing him the falsity of the religion he zealously embraced. I am glad that the U.S. military stood between an evil and murderous man like him and citizens like ourselves.

  • well said…….thank you for this thought-provoking lesson for us all to learn and teach others.

  • Steve, thank you for what you have said. Hopefully those who celebrated this event will have 2nd thoughts about their actions later. When atrocities happen against us (the U.S.), we tend to place ourselves on a higher moral plane than our enemies. How quick we are to fall back down.

  • The announcement that Bin Laden is dead didn’t have the same impact I thought it would have. I had actually given up on his coming to justice. No doubt, I would have been jubilant if he had been found the day after 911 and executed. Because I didn’t lose a relative or a close friend on that day, it probably explains my ambivalence. I’m certain the news affected all of us a bit differently. The people of New York and Washington as well as the families of the flight that crashed in Penn. have suffered and lived in anguish every day since it occurred.Though they likely celebrated, (and who could blame them), it was a hollow victory.
    President Obama is tougher than I thought (or was it Hilary?)Though I felt confident that he would try and tackle domestic issues, I did not vote for him because I did not think he had it in him to do what it took to make a stand on foreign policy. Strangely, though I acknowlege the religiious and moral aspects of this discussion, I feel a bit safer with him as the president than I did when he was first elected.
    Libya next?

  • Steve,
    I too was guilty of feeling relief of his death. But, I also know someone is ready to take his place..and I think some have “stooped” to the other’s level to dance in the streets. I try to remember the verse about “be angry and do not sin”. We have a right to be angry, but must practice self control when expressing it..I am thankful for justice being brought to the ones who were lost and who had family who were lost. I am also thankful there are those like you who are patient during these events, and write your article, which reminds us of how to practice Chrisianity under any circumstance.. You are a very talented person.

  • Steve,
    Excellent, concise, complete thoughts on this! I too beleive the Bible that the government is given the authority to bear the sword. But just imagine what an influence it would be on the muslim world if Mr. Bin Laden had become a Christian and turned himself in truly sorry for what he had done!

  • I believe that the key to all of this is balance! We can go to far in either direction. Since we agree that the government has the right to yield the sword to punish and bring to justice evil doers, a God-given, God-ordained right, why should we not rejoice when the government fulfills its God-given role?

  • Actually, we should be sadden that our nation has failed to fulfill its responsibility in this regard and has failed to punish evildoers!

  • Well said! Bin Laden reaped what he sewed. No rejoicing is in order.

  • Hi Bill. I hear you, but I don’t think I’m with you. ;-). Bill, hell is a divinely appointed institution to punish evil doers too. Should we rejoice when one goes there? Seems to me I should respect it’s divine appointment but feel regret and sadness for it’s necessity.

  • Steve:

    Your analysis is precisely correct. I was glad to see your view expressed as I thought the “celebration” at bin Laden’s death was in poor taste and not something in which a Christian should take great pleasure. That justice was done is apparent. I, for one, am relieved that bin Laden was killed rather than captured as his capture would have resulted in a media circus and millions of dollars wasted on “trials” and other activities related to his continued existance. But I also think the radical Islamics will view this action as yet another Western “outrage” to be responded to with more terrorist attacks on the West and America in particular. Our “celebrating” this event will only fuel their hatred and resolve further. I hope the names of those who killed bin Laden will never be released as they and their families would become special targets for the radicals. This is a dangerous world in which we live, and the cause of it all is sin by rejecting God and His commandments.

  • I will not discount that some of that partying was staged to push a politician’s (or two’s) agenda. It would not be a strange thing if it were.

    We are living among people who do not know God and do not truly respect, much less fear, Him. By and large, many of them do not revere the sanctity of life in the womb, so why should they care for it elsewhere? (And if they do, then where are they when it comes time to stand up and be counted against it?) Their attitude and display should come as no surprise.

    I can understand the relief many or most of us have at the putting down of a mad dog like him; he deserved death surely. But it is disconcerting to see how closely their reaction (those in the videos) to his death compares with the rejoicing among Arabs when the twin towers fell and thousands of our citizens died. I do not wish to be like them in any way whatsoever.

  • Osama was also a citizen of two kingdoms (if any nation will recognize him)! But that he was of the kingdom of Satan, there is no doubt! Osama’s death was a defeat for the forces of Satan and a victory for the forces of righteousness! Certainly it is tragic that a life was devoted to such evil but he made the choice which resulted in the events of this past Sunday and his death. I firmly believe that Osama was responsible for much of the turmoil in our world today. Perhaps, no man since Hilter has brought more death, destruction, and devastation to our world that Osama. The world is a better place with the Hilters, the Osamas, the Hussiens, etc.

  • Steve, you are 100% on target. To celebrate the death of one not prepared to meet God is to lose sight of the value of a soul…..any soul. I agree that this man did meet justice at the hands of our government.

  • Steve, I was just wondering why they shot him..and they shot him twice to make sure he was dead..All of the other presidents have never discussed killing him but putting him in jail. Now that Obama is president, he didn’t consider once not killing him…isn’t he the one who gave the orders to kill…just thought that this was weird..how about you.

  • Mary, to answer your question, “I don’t know.”. I’m not sure that the other presidents before Obama did want to kill him. In fact I’ve heard both Bush and Clinton make statements as to how they tried to kill him. I don’t think Obama did anything different than those before him other than succeed.

  • Steve, I am so glad that I read your comments on the death of Osama. I have been very confused about all of this and you gave me good insight on this deed. I felt that the celebrating on the streets brought us down to their level and I feel that children of our Lord are so much above this and as an American I am above this too. Thanks so much.

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