Is everyone Blind?
When it comes to bribery, politicians or the mob are those who most likely to come to mind. But supervisors at any level in any organization, even religious leaders or judges, can be and have been influenced by bribery. For a nation that claims to be ‘one nation under God’ the prevalence of bribery blatantly contradicts the simple instruction from God against bribery. In this article we are going to look at examples of bribery becoming institutionalized into the ‘American Way.’ A nation cannot claim to follow God, yet at the same time, turn away from His Instructions. God is fully aware of what is going on, and we can look to His Word to find out what He is going to do about it.
A bribe, by definition, is “money or favor given or promised in order to influence the judgment or conduct of a person in a position of trust.” In God’s Word, He makes clear that a bribe is not to be taken because it corrupts judgment.
“And you shall take no gift: for the gift blinds the wise, and perverts the words of the righteous.”Exodus 23:8
Is a Gift a Bribe?
The Hebrew word translated above as ‘gift’ could have been translated into several other words. The Strong’s Concordance, a great reference book for finding a fuller understanding of scripture, will show you what other words the translators could have chosen. The word ‘gift’ in Exodus 23:8 is Strongs #7810, originating from Strongs #7809. These two Hebrew words are translated throughout the Bible as gift, bribe, reward, to give a present, ransom and bribery. The context of the verse points to the intent of the author, which may differ from the word chosen by the translator! A gift, like a birthday gift, is very different from a bribe. A gift given with love and ‘no strings attached’ is just that, a gift. But a gift that’s a bribe is another matter.
The Unjust Justices!
The highest court in the US has been accused of multiple ‘slips’ of judgement, bringing into question their qualification for the bench. Amongst the current justices, Clarence Thomas so far has the longest list of ‘gifts’ he has accepted that range from extravagant vacation trips to use of a private jet. Clarence claims these ‘family trips,’ which in some cases were also attended by CEO’s of major companies, did not fall under the reporting requirements. Following the Watergate scandal, any gift valued at $415 or more requires reporting, although as an example of the confusion, some sources lower that amount to $335. A hospitality exception leaves a grey zone in which Clarence claims he resides. A Justice on the highest US court should not leave room for interpretation!
Recently the Associated Press did an investigation into the Supreme Court’s practice of using tax-payer funded staffers to organize events with personal financial gain such as book promotions and college speaking events. Many of the justices have also attended all-expenses-paid teaching trips. These events and trips often include wealthy political donors as attendees or directly involve owners of businesses with legal matters before the court. As an example, when Justice Antonin Scalia died in 2016, he was staying at a luxurious hunting lodge owned by John Poindexter. Poindexter’s company previously had a matter before the Supreme Court. Scalia famously made the news in 2004 for his close relationship with Dick Cheney, also the head of a corporation with matters before the court. Here is a list of recent conflicts of interests in which a Justice failed to recuse themselves from the case.
The Supreme Court is the only branch of government without an ethics code, the existence of which guides the legislative and executive branches from crossing similar lines. Or does it? One could argue the ethics codes prevent certain ‘violations’ while the basic operations of government through lobbyist and campaign funding practices have incorporated bribery into the inner workings of the US government.
There are over 12,000 registered lobbyists in the US, or over 20 registered lobbyists for every member of Congress. The very definition of lobbying screams bribery. This is well known, and well accepted.
Lobbying: to conduct activities aimed at influencing public officials and especially members of a legislative body on legislation.Merriam-Webster
Lobbyist activities range from simple conversations with members of Congress to all-expenses paid trips and of course outright contributions. Linked here is a list of the 2022 top recipients of contributions from lobbyists.
It should come as no surprise that the Pharmaceutical and Health Products industry is currently spending the most on lobbying. Even more damning is that over 60 percent of this industry’s lobbyists fall into the ‘revolving door’ category. This means those who now lobby for the industry used to be government regulators, congressional staff of even members of Congress. Just this week the second in command at the DEA quit after it was reported that he previously worked “for a pharmaceutical distributor sanctioned for a deluge of suspicious painkiller shipments and did similar work for the drug maker that became the face of the opioid epidemic: Purdue Pharma.” The term ‘revolving door’ is just another way to say there is a major conflict of interest with those regulating the regulated.
Bribing US Citizens
Have you ever been bribed by the pharmaceutical industry? Maybe not directly, but back in 2021 during the initial rollout of the COVID vaccines, multiple states started cash lotteries for those who got ‘the shot.’ Much of the ethical discussions at the time centered around ‘saving grandma’ by getting vaccinated, but the ethical concerns around coercing citizens to take a fast-tracked, experimental drug with emergency approval stayed out of the mainstream media.
Many industry and government employers were forced to make life-changing decisions when the bribes turned into mandates, a shameful turn of events instigated by the leaders of this nation under the influence of the largest lobbyist group. During the government mandate announcement, Biden infamously said those who got vaccinated wouldn’t get COVID, a claim he proved to be false when he later contracted COVID more than once.
Oh, Indulge Me!
The US Government isn’t alone with their entrenched bribery schemes. Many religions have an element of ‘pay to be saved’ built in under the guise of donations. One of the largest bribery schemes in religion directly led to the Protestant Reformation. In 1517, Martin Luther published his ’95 Theses’ document, a condemnation of the Catholic Church’s practice of selling Indulgences. The official name of the document was ‘Disputation on the Power of Indulgences.’ According to the current Catholic Catechism, paragraph 1498 “Through indulgences the faithful can obtain the remission of temporal punishment resulting from sin for themselves and also for the souls in Purgatory.” In other words, buy an indulgence to save yourself from sin. You can even obtain indulgences to help out your dead relatives in a place called Purgatory, a fictional concept pushed by the church.
Indulgences are considered a form of penance and now they can be obtained from priests by performing certain acts, such as going to confession followed by receiving communion and praying for the pope.
The wisdom and knowledge of God that frees you from sin is a gift from God, not something that can be bought. None of this follows God’s Ways.
“For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, mighty and awesome, which regards not persons, nor takes reward (bribes!).”Deuteronomy 10:17
“A wicked man takes a gift (bribe!) out of the bosom to pervert the ways of judgment.”Proverbs 17:23
Wicked Leaders are Wicked Shepherds
The wicked shepherds lead their flocks astray through teachings like the idea of indulgences which come from their own imaginations. Meanwhile, the Righteous follow God, and lead His Flock to Him and His Ways. They lead by example. What example is being set by your religious and government leaders?
“Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre ($), but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock.”1 Peter 5: 2-3
Who’s watching the Vineyard?
A public servant like a politician or a priest could be compared to a husbandman, in that they watch over, guide and take care of those they lead.
In Matthew 21:33-46, Jesus puts forth the Parable of the Wicked Husbandman.
“There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a wine press in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.”Matthew 21:33-34
The husbandmen beat, killed and stoned the servants sent by the householder. The householder sent his son, but the husbandmen killed him also so they could take the inheritance of the fruit for themselves.
“When the lord (householder) therefore of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those husbandmen?”Matthew 21:40
What do you think? Will the householder be happy with what the husbandmen have done when he returns? In this parable, who is the householder and who are the husbandmen?
This parable from Jesus follows along with a similar parable of a vineyard in Isaiah 5 that can help you answer those questions.
“My Wellbeloved had a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.”Isaiah 5:1-2
Wild grapes could also have been translated as poisonous grapes. God was upset because the ‘grapes’ or the fruit of the the vineyard went bad, they went bad in their ways. But how does a vineyard go bad or astray? The ones taking care of the vineyard led it astray. What is the vineyard?
“For the Vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the House of Israel and the man of Judah His pleasant plant: and He looked for Judgement but behold oppression; for Righteousness, but behold a cry… Therefore/For this reason, My People have gone into captivity, because they have no Knowledge.”Isaiah 5:7-13
The vineyard and the plant represent people and the grapes represent the fruit or the ways of the people, Matthew 7:15-20. They are people that have been oppressed, taken into captivity and not taught in the ways of God. Their ways have been turned into poisonous grapes through their leaders or the ones tending the field. What are these wicked ways?
“Woe to them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!… Which justify the Wicked for reward (a bribe!), and take away the righteousness of the Righteous from him!”Isaiah 5:21-23
Just like the husbandmen in Jesus’ parable strove to take the fruit for themselves and to teach the vineyard their ways instead of God’s, and to kill His messengers, the same thing happened in Isaiah 5. If the vineyard is the people of God led astray, then the householder would be God and the husbandmen would be the wicked leaders or wicked shepherds.
“When the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his (Jesus’s) parable, they perceived that he spoke of them”Matthew 21:45
In Jesus’s parable, the wicked husbandmen were the religious leaders of his day leading the flock astray from God. The wicked leaders of today who take bribes are those same wicked husbandmen, whether it’s religious leaders or secular leaders.
What is God going to do?
“When the LORD therefore of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those husbandmen?… He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out His Vineyard to other husbandmen, which shall render Him the Fruits in their seasons.”Matthew 21:40-41
“Therefore as the fire devours the stubble and the flame consumes the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the Law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the Word of the Holy One of Israel. Therefore is the anger of the LORD kindled against His People…”Isaiah 5:24-25
“For we know Him that has said, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay’, says the Lord. And again, ‘The Lord will judge His People.”Hebrews 10:30
“Every plant, which my Heavenly Father has not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.”Matthew 15:13-14