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Would Jesus Hang Saddam?

Article by Rob Marshall

We had an interesting discussion the other night at a Bible study I was leading. It was completely off topic, but that’s how things go. One of the participants was very adamant that God wouldn’t send anyone to hell. In that person’s opinion, a loving God would never do such a terrible thing, so everyone must be going to heaven. We never got around to discussing whether or not this included people like Saddam Hussein or Hitler, or other people who committed even greater atrocities against mankind.

Of course a good part of the discussion revolved around trying to get this person to realize the error in believing that everybody, no matter what they did during their lifetime, would get into heaven. Our concern was that this kind of thinking could lead some people to think that they can continue to sin and never have to worry about judgment. But if you really think about it, very few people think about eternity and how their choices will affect them, so it was all probably a moot point.

I think that it’s easy for us to believe that hell is a necessary deterrent, but at the same time we also realize that God doesn’t want to send anyone there. The inescapable fact is that the Bible clearly teaches that hell is real, and that people will be going there. There is a judgment that we all have to face, and for those who die without Christ, they will stand before God and be judged based on what they believed.

Like many people I saw some of the video clips from the trial of Saddam Hussein. It seemed a bit odd to me that he was allowed to show such disrespect toward the judge. I would have thought that they would remove him from the room, or gag him. But there was something else about him yelling at the judge that bothered me. It almost felt like he was saying the things he knew he should say, but with no real conviction (sorry, bad pun 🙂 about what he said.

Perhaps he realized that nothing he said or did would make any difference, but that he needed to say something. After all, there were TV cameras in the room and it was his last chance to tell his followers to reject the current rulers, and the American invaders, and incite them to continue wreaking havoc. And in that sense, I felt that it was wrong to broadcast his defiance to the world.

When the day comes, and we all stand before God and give an account of our lives, no one will be talking back to Him. There will be no hiding, and no arguing, because everything about our lives, even the thoughts that we had, will be laid out before us. In a very real sense we will be standing there, open and naked, before a Holy God. The evidence will be overwhelming, and for those who have not found forgiveness in Christ, it will be condemning.

But are earthly courts and judges as reliable and thorough?

I have to admit that my feelings about the trial of Hussein were somewhat mixed. It isn’t that I thought that he didn’t deserve to be executed. And it certainly had nothing to do with my stance on the death penalty, because I believe that people who commit murder should be executed. In one sense the punishment fits the crime, and in many ways our forms of execution are relatively humane, unlike the manner in which some people kill their victims.

The only problem that I have with executing murderers is that judgment on earth is rarely done in a just manner. People who have the money can afford expensive lawyers who are good at wooing a jury so that they decide in favor of their clients, regardless of their guilt or innocence. The poor are left with overworked and underpaid public defenders that may not get any real justice for their clients. The problem is that I can never be certain that everyone will be justly tried and that their punishment will be appropriate to their actual crime. If it weren’t for that fact that innocent people are falsely accused and convicted, I would be a wholehearted supporter of the death penalty.

But regardless of how unfairly and unjustly people are tried here on earth; the truth is that the guilty will never really escape. God will judge us all, but He may not do it the way that we think He should. If there is one thing we know about God, it’s that He forgives people; even some people that we believe should never be pardoned.

But would Jesus hang Saddam? I can only look at things from my perspective, which means that I can only look at a man’s actions and never at his heart. From his actions I would say that Saddam was unrepentant to the very end, and that he deserved his punishment. Was that actually the case? I won’t know until I get to heaven and see which line he’s in.

When it comes to people being executed for their crimes, God has left that decision up to us. He allows us to put governments in place that create laws and systems to enforce those laws. Within those man-made systems there are a lot of problems, and injustice seems to be the rule instead of the exception. But our fate here on earth is just one very small piece of our lives.

Our ultimate fate, the final judgment we will all face, will be before a God who is just and who knows us better than we know ourselves. When He hands down his sentence on our lives we won’t argue, we won’t accuse Him of being prejudiced or unfair, we will simply bow our knees and confess that He is Lord. In the final analysis we will see that it was our choices, the ones that we made throughout our lives that determine eternity.

About the Author

Get two chapters from Rob Marshall’s book, “Taking On Goliath – How To Unleash The David In All Of Us” when you sign up for his free weekly Faith-Full Life Newsletter. Visit:http://www.TakingOnGoliath.com

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