My colleague and friend Greg Ward wrote this in an email about the celebration of justice, especially with reference to the commission/ministry of the civil magistrate; he was responding to those who hold that we cannot celebrate the just execution of Osama bin Laden:
Actually Rom 13 is the crux of the argument. The question isn't whether or not the people of God (in either the OT or now) should celebrate the meting out of justice. The question is whether or not the event in question is just. Romans 13 doesn't have to mention celebrating justice, it needs only clarify how God meets out justice in the period between Christ's coming and his return.
God has given the sword to the governments of the world. When those governments properly wield the sword for justice, it is cause for celebration, clearly what the OT passages have in mind. When the government wields the sword for injustice, it is not. The OT is replete with examples of the King of Judah/Israel, the chosen mediator of God's justice wielding the sword for all the wrong reasons, and it was unjust, and prophets were sent to address the issue. The issues really weren't any plainer then than they are now.
So, when an event takes place, the question is, was justice properly meted out by a proper authority. For example there have been "Christians" that have bombed abortion clinics, or killed abortion doctors. This is not just, and it is no cause for celebration. On the flip side, our government has made abortion legal, which is also not just. Again no cause for celebration.
However, when our government pursues a terrorist that has acknowledged and even celebrated his part in heinous crimes, and brings him to justice . . this is proper justice, properly meted out, by a proper authority. It is the way God intends it to work, and unfortunately it seems a fairly rare event these days. It is an appropriate time to celebrate that God has meted out his justice through the government. Further, this is actually the celebration of life you mention. If there is no joy in justice, how will there be joy in heaven?