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Wednesday, 6 August 2014

And this is justice?!

Sometimes, I become a little confused!  I have to hear, and read, a news item a number of times to assure myself that I am understanding the situation correctly.  One of last evening's news items, also in most of the newspapers, left me in that state.

It would appear that Mr Bernie Ecclestone, multi-billionaire (sterling) and F1 racing Chief Executive, was charged in Germany with bribery concerning allegations that he had paid Gerhard Gribkowsky, ­formerly the chief risk officer of German bank BayernLB, a £26 million bribe to steer the sale of F1 from the Bavarian bank to CVC ( the sport’s majority shareholder, CVC Capital Partners), Ecclestone’s preferred buyer, in 2006.

However, in spite of facing a potential 10-year custodial sentence, Mr Ecclestone is now a free man, having successfully negotiated a deal with prosecutors in Munich whereby he will hand over $100 million (£60 million) in the next few days!

Understandably, there has been a furious reaction from some quarters in Germany, after prosecutors spent years preparing the legal case against ­Ecclestone.  A former justice minister described the situation as “galling”, calling for the closure of the legal loophole that enabled Ecclestone to settle.

It certainly appears to me that what has happened here is that a man accused of bribery has bribed his way out of the court case that would have decided his guilt, or innocence.  And this is justice?   How many of us could afford to offer £60 million?  How many of us can even envisage £60 million?   Is this, yet again, one law for the 'rich and famous', and another law for the rest of us?

The Bible, unsurprisingly, has a lot to say about bribery.  For example, in Ex 23:8, we read these words of YHWH: "... you shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the officials, and subverts the cause of those who are in the right."   In words of condemnation, YHWH states, through the prophet Isaiah, that: "Your princes are rebels and companions of thieves.  Every one loves a bribe and runs after gifts." (Isa 1:23).

In the New Testament also, bribery is condemned.  After the discovery of the empty tomb, the Chief Priests "... assembled with the elders and ... gave a sum of money to the soldiers and said, "Tell people, 'His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.'  And if this comes to the governor's ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble." So they took the money and did as they were directed; and this story has been spread among the Jews to this day." (Matt 28:12-15).  An ambitious magician even tried to bribe the apostles.  "Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money, [a bribe] saying, 'Give me also this power, that any one on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.'  But Peter said to him, 'Your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!  You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God.  Repent therefore of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you.  For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.'  And Simon answered, 'Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.'" (Acts 8:18-24).

Obviously, I do not know any more about the Bernie Ecclestone story than what I have read and heard, in and through the media.  However, if the facts are as reported, then Mr Ecclestone may have escaped human justice, but he must still appear before the Judgement Seat of the Creator God, Who has stated that "... the company of the godless is barren, and fire consumes the tents of bribery." (Job 15:34).  There, justice will truly be done, and be seen to have been done.  That final judgment will be  certain (Eccl 11:9), universal (II Cor 5:10), righteous (Rom 2:5), decisive (I Cor 15:52), and eternal as to its consequences (Heb 6:2).  We will not have to have bribed with tens of millions of pounds sterling to be found guilty.  We will only have to have broken God's laws - and none of us is innocent in that respect (Rom.3:23).  Only those who have the perfect and sinless Christ as their Advocate will escape the penalty of their sins (and, indeed, have already been accounted as justified in the sight of Father God - Rom.8:1).  Have you responded, positively, to His offer of full salvation?  If not, please do not delay.  If I may be of any assistance, please feel free to contact me, privately, using the e-mail address at the top of the blog.

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