Since the WMD showdown with Saddam Hussein started, I have been praying
for Saddam's soul. I am no saint, and I don't remember very
often, but occasionally I have remembered to do so. So it was
with great anticipation that I read this account of his execution:|
At 2:30 a.m. he performed his final religious ablutions, kneeling and washing his hands, face and feet.
He then sat on the edge of his iron-cot bed and began to read the Quran. It had been a gift
from his wife, sent to him at the outset of his trial. But only after
the court’s death sentence had been passed had Saddam begun to study
It is a severe mercy to know the time of your death. Until his
death sentence, Saddam had not considered the state of his soul.
But impending death brings great clarity and focus. Now he was
turning to a book that to this point had been a political tool for his
own ends. According to an observer:
He began to tremble and his eyes filled with what one observer called "his terror at impending death. For the first time he was feeling what so many others had done facing execution from his actions."
I cannot help but think that this new found fear was genuine, and properly placed (though he did make one more political jab, saying, "Palestine is Arab"). His fear of God was the beginning of wisdom, and he turned to the Quran as the only way he knew to turn back to the God he had cynically used. Oh that he could have had a Bible instead, and had hope as well as fear. But I had a twinge of joy at the evidence that my meager prayers had been answered, and perhaps his repentance was real.
So many well meaning people are offended by the death penalty. Yet, it is divinely authorized for violent crimes just after the flood, and applies to all nations. It is a mercy as well as a judgement. For commiting a violent crime leaves such a stain upon ones soul, that true repentance may never happen without the motivating grace of death.
"It is appointed unto man once to die," and death came by sin for all of us through the first sin of Adam. Death is a judgement, but it is also a mercy. It is the Spirit that quickens us to new Life, but it is Death that finally separates us from all sin, that we may live ever after before God with new bodies and pure souls.
Posted 1/3/2007 at 11:51 PM