Bernard Madoff: How Are the Mighty Fallen!

Madoff's cellA few months ago he was worth over $800 million. Now, at age 70, he sits in this prison cell, 7.5 by 8 feet, with a sink, a toilet, and a bunk. Bernard Madoff went there last Thursday after being under house arrest in his $7 million penthouse since December.

He pleaded guilty on March 12 to eleven charges, all related to the biggest investor fraud ever committed by a single person—$65 billion. He has left hundreds of people in ruins.

Is not God good to be so aggressive in trumpeting the truth of his word in the news for all to see! Was there ever a clearer witness to the truth of 1 Timothy 6:9-10?

But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

Madoff’s public fall is God’s merciful shout to the world:

Don’t desire to be rich! It will kill you. Desire me! Lay up treasures in heaven where nothing can ever take them away.

Blessed are those who are content with modest possessions and give the rest away. They will inherit the earth.

You don’t need to rise up early and go late to bed eating the bread of anxious toil.

You don’t need to swindle and cheat.

If you trust my Son you are a fellow heir with him of the universe. All I have will be yours.

O turn, world, turn, from the folly of pursuing wealth!

And what about Mr. Madoff? O how good God has been to him to cut him down now before it is too late. Pray for him that, perhaps as with Chuck Colson, this tiny cell will prove to be a meeting place with Jesus.

Then with Richard Lovelace he may find his cell the freest place on earth.

Stone walls do not a prison make,
  Nor iron bars a cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take 
  That for an hermitage;
If I have freedom in my love 
  And in my soul am free,
Angels alone, that soar above,
  Enjoy such liberty.

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.