Jeffrey Epstein was a wealthy American financier and convicted sex offender who began his professional career as a teacher and then changed to the banking sector. Having developed an elite social circle, he was able to cause incalculable harm to countless women and get away with it for years. On July 6 of 2019, he was arrested on federal charges for sex trafficking of minors in Florida and New York. He was inevitably going to face the rest of his life in prison, but on August 10 he was found in his jail cell dead. The medical examiner ruled the death a suicide, leaving many of his victims angry with the feeling that justice was not met.
This story is disturbing enough, but it gets worse. In 2005, police in Palm Beach, Florida began investigating Epstein after a parent complained that he had sexually abused her 14-year-old daughter. In 2007, despite overwhelming evidence and multiple witnesses corroborating stories of sexual abuse victims, federal prosecutors and Jeffrey Epstein’s lawyers quietly put together a remarkable deal for Epstein that spared Epstein a harsher sentence and time in state prison, where most felony sex offenders serve their time. His alleged co-conspirators, who helped schedule his sex sessions, were never prosecuted.
Epstein agreed to plead guilty to two felony prostitution charges in state court, and in exchange, he and his accomplices received immunity from federal sex-trafficking charges that could have sent him to prison for life. He served 13 months in a private wing of the Palm Beach County stockade. During this time, he was allowed to go in and out of jail and enjoy a limo service to go home.
What a scandal! How could this happen in a country that boasts of just laws and legal processes? I don’t know about you, but this story arouses my sense of justice. I can appreciate better the Psalmist’s prayer for the king of his nation:
Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the royal son! May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice! May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the children of the needy, and crush the oppressor! (Ps 72:1-4)
I’m grateful for the promise that one day God will arise “to establish justice to save all the oppressed of the earth” (Ps 76:9). I’m relieved to know that God instructed those in positions of power to judge without partiality (Lev 19:15). Of course the history of Israel shows that more times than not, those in position of power abused their privileges and judged selfishly.
The Bible has a lot to say about God’s love, grace and mercy. It is because of His goodness that we are led to repentance (Rom 2:4). We should be comforted to know that the God whom we serve loves justice and hates oppression. This should come as good news to the oppressed of the earth, though not such good news to the oppressors (James 5:1-9). Though justice will not be fully realized in our corrupt world, God will act to make every wrong right and put our world right once and for all.