On the death of the wicked


My wife wept when she heard that abortionist George Tiller had been murdered. She cried out and left the sanctuary of our church, perhaps for fear of hearing that God had ordained it, that it was all part of His plan. When a tidal wave kills thousands, or when a child is stricken with cancer, or even when a wicked killer is struck down with unlawful violence, it is hard to hear that this is part of God's plan to glorify Himself, as if all this bloodshed and misery is what He intended from the beginning.

"'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'?" Perhaps more chilling, for a Bible-toting assassin, would be Christ's promise: "For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you." Perhaps this is why George Tiller's murderer did not stand beside his freshly fallen corpse, but fled like a coward. Perhaps as he saw firsthand what it feels like to unjustly take up the Judge's sword, he felt the cold shadow of it cross over his own neck.

And so now a killer is dead and a murderer imprisoned and God knows how many people grief-stricken or furious or---God have mercy on their souls---exultant. A gunshot took a death merchant from the earth, but who knows what evil it has unleashed?

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But worst of all, which is what grieved my wife, is that George Tiller was sent to fall before the judgment seat of God, where even a righteous man must tremble. Whatever might have been for him is ended. Perhaps he would have continued to shed the blood of innocents. Perhaps he would have repented, to the rejoicing of angels. None of that is for us to know.

We can know this, however: George Tiller was fashioned in the image of God and he was cut down by the unlawful hand of man. He is no martyr. But he is not so different from you or I. And where might we go, God have mercy on our souls, were we slaughtered in the midst of our unrepentance?

It is an awful thing indeed to slay a wicked man. Who dares claim that authority? Who aspires to sit in the judgment seat of the Living God? Better instead to pray, all of us, for ourselves and our loved ones and our enemies alike, because all of us will one day give an accounting. God have mercy on those of us who must give that accounting with bloody hands.


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