The last moments of Muammar Qaddafi’s life were horrifying. A choppy cell phone video shows him being dragged along by rebels who reportedly found him hiding in a drainage pipe. Qaddafi had obviously been injured multiple times, either from the attack on his convoy that had occurred only minutes before or by the crowd itself. Although a murderous tyrant himself, Qaddafi had a change of heart as his demise appeared imminent. He was not the first man to demonstrate a transformation of character at the time of death.

During his 42 year reign, Qaddafi brutalized his own people and had a hand in numerous terrorist operations. He was a man who routinely violated the principles of the religion he professed. But, during those last moments, Qaddafi appealed to his captors on the basis of Islamic teaching. He reportedly asked them: “Do you know what is right or wrong?” His words failed to have an impact on the violent mob. Then Qaddafi asserted, “What you are doing is forbidden in Islamic law.” This time, one of the fighters replied: “Shut up, you dog.”

You have to wonder how many times victims of Qaddafi’s ruthless rule pleaded for mercy and said something similar. You also might wonder if any of those voices echoed in Qaddafi’s mind during those last minutes; or perhaps he recalled the faces of those he caused to be murdered. Whatever the case, the irony is plain. Here is a man who had little regard for any law but his own for most of his life. Just before death, however, the same man appealed to the law of Islam in an attempt to stop the rebels from doing what he had done by delegation time and time again.

All around us every day the teachings of the Bible are verified. In Qaddafi’s case, Proverbs 1:19 comes to mind. After warning his son to stay away from wicked companions because, ultimately, they destroy themselves, Solomon says: “So are the ways of everyone who gains by violence; it takes away the life of its possessors.” Qaddafi wished to escape the end that frequently comes for tyrants. The mercy denied to so many sufferers by this man’s regime was denied to him (cf. James 2:3).

Qaddafi’s body is on display in a commercial freezer in a meat store in Libya’s third largest city, Misrata. Although he was once feared throughout the nation, Qaddafi’s bloodied corpse has become a gruesome tourist attraction.