Lex Talionis: From the Palace, to the Rabbit Hole, to the Courtroom, To the Gallows

Whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death.
At 9:05PM Central, 10:05PM Eastern, and 6:05AM Iraqi time, the deposed dictator, Saddam Hussein was duly executed by hanging along with his brother-in-law and a third figure.
I watched a few minutes of an Iraqi ambassador speaking with Anderson Cooper on CNN just now, and he pointed out that the apparent death toll resulting from Saddam Hussein’s 35 year reign, patterned closely after the methods of arch-communist, Joseph Stalin, numbers in the neighborhood of 2 million Iraqi citizens–this number includes those found in mass graves as late as April of 2003. He said that this number is the proportional equivalent of having killed 20 million American citizens!
Here’s a video history of Saddam’s reign.
Consider the following passage, Romans 12:14-13:14 . . .
. . . 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. [8] Never be conceited. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it [9] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

11 Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
The November/December 2006 issue of Modern Reformation magazine, “Govern Well or Be Governed?” says the following about this passage: “When Paul commands believers to ‘leave room for the wrath of God’ in 12:19, he’s imploring them to let the unbelieving civil government do its job. The Lord’s vengeance isn’t just future, it is also present.”
When you look at this passage from this perspective, that means that God’s wrath has just been meted out on Saddam Hussein for his murderous regime. I find it interesting as I consider the context of Romans 13, in which Paul writes to citizens of a pagan government and urges them to be subject to the government, and that God himself ordained that pagan government as the servant of law-abiding citizens for good by carrying out God’s wrath on wrongdoers (Romans 13:4-5). What I find interesting is that this is kind of a special case. Saddam was the God-ordained government, God’s servant to carry out God’s wrath on wrongdoers. God gave Saddam Hussein the good gift of this authority. This authority was abused by him. The governments of the world fruitlessly exercised measure after measure to influence Saddam to rein in his reign of terror. Finally, a U.S.-led coalition deposed him. God’s wrath was beginning to be carried out against this evildoer. Regardless of one’s political opinions or feelings about the Bush administration, this is what took place from the apostle Paul’s perspective, as far as I can see. A coalition of other God-ordained governments pooled their resources, deposed the God-ordained leader of Iraq, and the newly God-ordained government of Iraq tried him for his crimes against his own people.
Saddam’s path goes from God’s servant to avenge evil, to agent of evil, to citizen-defendent-subject of the wrath of God.
Finally, consider Ecclesiastes 8:10-13 . . .
10 Then I saw the wicked buried. They used to go in and out of the holy place and were praised [4] in the city where they had done such things. This also is vanity. 11 Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil. 12 Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and prolongs his life, yet I know that it will be well with those who fear God, because they fear before him. 13 But it will not be well with the wicked, neither will he prolong his days like a shadow, because he does not fear before God.
The heart of Saddam Hussein was certainly set in him to do evil, for he went in and out and was praised (by those at gunpoint) in the city were he did such things. Saddam Hussein did evil a hundred times and prolonged his life, and finally, it was not well with this wicked man, though he tried, he ultimately did not prolong his days because he did not fear before God.

2 responses

  1. John

    so I see you are a man of the earth as Luther!

    This morning the boys and I did our normal Saturday morning Bible study, in fact we have been doing one every day for the last couple of weeks as they are out of school for the regularly scheduled year end and seasonal break.

    We spent a good bit of time looking at Proverbs 28 and 1 John 5 paralleling those verses with the execution of Saddam Hussein.

    Here’s a dribble of what we read:

    Pro 28:3 A poor man that oppresseth the poor is like a sweeping rain which leaveth no food.

    Saddam came from humble beginnings.

    Pro 28:6 Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich.

    He begat Udah and Coosay!

    Pro 28:9 He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.

    He routinely made up stuff as he went along ruling the people! It is reported he hollered out ALLAH AA AKBAR as he was falling down the shoot! Was his prayer heard?

    Pro 28:15 As a roaring lion, and a ranging bear; so is a wicked ruler over the poor people.

    People lived in fear around his roar!

    Pro 28:17 A man that doeth violence to the blood of any person shall flee to the pit; let no man stay him.

    As soon as all appeals were dismissed or set aside, he was bound and went to where he did not want to go!

    No man got in the way!

    Now for the people of Iraq I add:
    Pro 28:28 When the wicked rise, men hide themselves: but when they perish, the righteous increase.

    My prayer for that nation is LET JESUS IN!


  2. Amen.

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