Yesterday the President of the United States, President Biden, reported to America the death of al Qaeda notable Ayman al-Zawahiri in a “precision strike.” To be clear, I welcome this as good news for which I am thankful, though I hope not gleeful (Proverbs 24:17). And yet, in reading about this development I cringe at President Biden’s language, and, frankly, at his stunning hypocrisy.
In his remarks given yesterday, President Biden stated, “Now justice has been delivered…” I wonder what he meant exactly by that phrase? On the one hand I agree with the President. Indeed, Zawahiri’s death was a thing of justice. And yet, by what standard (to borrow a phrase)? To what standard of justice does President Biden appeal? The standard can’t merely be the sovereign determination of a nation-state (the United States) to act in its own security interests and conduct an extra-judicial lethal strike in another country. If that were the standard of justice that justified killing Zawahiri, then we ought not expect anyone outside the United States to affirm this action as a good thing. No, the “interests-based” determination of the United States to kill Zawahiri may have been the means of administering justice, but it isn’t the thing itself. President Biden’s statement, “Now justice has been delivered,” reached for something higher, something greater, something more determinative than the mere exercise of national power in the national interest. It reached for a standard that President Biden hopes, at least rhetorically (if not in reality), every thinking person can intuitively recognize; a standard that makes it right and good for the commander-in-chief to order the exercise of deadly U.S. power against a murderous terrorist bent on harming others. But the question remains: Is President Biden right to appeal to such a standard, and if so, what is it?
In order to get to my point, let me simply assert that President Biden was right to appeal to justice, and that the standard – whether he recognizes it or not – is the character and holiness of God expressed in the law of God. Among other things, God’s law says, as an expression of his character, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13, ESV). Zawahiri broke God’s law, and it was an appropriate exercise of government power to call him to account, even at the cost of his own life (Romans 13:3-4). But now consider this (and here’s where the stunning hypocrisy comes into play): Does President Biden realize that he stands under the same standard of justice? If so, how does he not shudder in fear? With one side of his mouth he directed an airstrike targeting a murderous terrorist, while with the other he is hell-bent (I use this phrase intentionally) on supporting murder on an industrial scale, namely the murder of children in utero. In his statement on Zawahiri, President Biden said: “After carefully considering the clear and convincing evidence of his location, I authorized a precision strike that would remove him from the battlefield once and for all.” Has the President applied the same care to consider the “clear and convincing” biblical and biological evidence for life in the womb? I’m reminded of these words of Jesus to his hypocritical hearers in Luke 12:54-56 (ESV): “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming.’ And so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?” The subtext to these verses is simply this: They couldn’t interpret the present time because they were sinfully unwilling to do so! The President can rightly understand justice so as to kill a man half-a-world away. And yet, he also remains willfully blind to justice, and thus actively supports the murder of millions right here at home. That’s hypocrisy.
This morning I read in Jeremiah 25 these words of prophecy spoken against all the nations of the earth:
“The LORD will roar from on high, and from his holy habitation utter his voice; he will roar mightily against his fold, and shout, like those who tread grapes against all the inhabitants of the earth. The clamor will resound to the ends of the earth, for the LORD has an indictment against the nations; he is entering into judgment with all flesh, and the wicked he will put to the sword, declares the LORD. Thus says the LORD of hosts: Behold, disaster is going forth from nation to nation and a great tempest is stirring from the farthest parts of the earth!” – Jer. 25:30b-32
Last weekend, American missiles roared from the sky against a house and a man in Kabul, Afghanistan. While the strike against Zawahiri accomplished its purpose, in light of what’s coming it sounded, sounds now, and will sound like the faintest “twirp” of a sparrow uttered at dawn. One day soon Yahweh will roar from the heaven of heavens over all the earth. In that day President Biden will answer before God just as Zawahiri has done. May he not be left in defenseless hypocrisy. May he find himself covered by the blood of the Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ, who alone can save Joe Biden from the wrath of God. May he repent of his hypocrisy and rest in the justice of Golgotha. Such is my prayer for the President of these United States.