“Saddam Hussein escaped justice,” someone said on NPR radio this Saturday morning. This murderous Iraqi dictator was found guilty of the 1982 murder of 148 Shiite Muslim civilians and sentenced to the gallows, a sentence that was carried out promptly last night.
The question lingers, “But what about the hundreds of thousands of others he slaughtered? Shouldn’t he have to pay for those deaths also?” But this raises another question: “How?” All he had was one life and that one was taken. Biggest question of all: “So where is the justice in this?” Answer: We may not expect absolute justice on this side of the grave. On the other side, well, that’s another story.
They said Saddam’s last words were “God is great.” I take that to mean he uttered “Allah Ak-bar,” the phrase which is so much a part of Islam.
My word on this is: A few seconds after Saddam’s neck snapped, he began to understand just how great God truly is, and not in any way he anticipated.
“It is appointed unto man once to die, and after that the judgement.” (Hebrews 9:27)
The way I read Holy Scripture, Saddam’s troubles have just started. You would not want to be in that man’s shoes.
This, incidentally, is why Scripture makes so much of the death of Jesus on the cross, that act by which He paid the complete price for every sin ever committed. Every sin, every one, forever. Yes, he died for Saddam’s sins too. It’s why believers make so much of the mercy and salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ.
If we all got what we truly deserved, we would be in the same predicament as Saddam at this moment, awaiting our appointment with the Supreme Judge of the universe from whose righteous decision there is no appeal.
“He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to his mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.” (Titus 3:5-6)
According to His mercy. Think of that.
May I suggest the next time you think of Saddam Hussein’s fate, you stop and give thanks to God for His wonderful mercy.
Five or six years ago, while pastoring the First Baptist Church of Kenner, I happened to recall in a sermon a song from my childhood, a record I remembered which the “Chuck Wagon Gang” sang, entitled “Justice Calls But Mercy Answers.” Tim Walker, sitting at the piano, said, “My grandfather wrote that.”
Sure enough, a couple of days later, Tim brought in an old songbook with that song. Underneath the title was the name of the composer: Clyde A. Walker. “He was a preacher and songwriter,” Tim said. Tim’s uncle is Clyde A. Walker, Jr.
If you want to start a fight with half the people you know–even longtime members of a Baptist church, Bible believers all–casually remark to them that if Saddam Hussein had prayed for salvation before he died, he would be in Heaven right now.
They’ll react swiftly, demanding to know where is the justice in that. The answer of course is: Calvary.
Same as for you and me.
It’s all about the cross, friend.