PASTOR’S CORNER: Sage advice for the wise

By Rev. O.L. Johnson

Religion Columnist

Gerald is a happy camper now that he’s king. He sat back and watched while his brother reigned after their dad was killed in a war with a neighboring country.

As he remembered it, dad was a popular monarch, treated everybody right, loved by his subjects and his death was a blow to the entire country. But his brother Gary, who succeeded him, was another story.

He didn’t follow after dad. His reign was so corrupt that he was stripped of the throne after only three months. He was exiled and Gerald was chosen to replace him. Since he was young and inexperienced, Gerald enlisted the aid of a more mature family friend named Gerard to advise him.

The first advice given Gerald was to follow in the footsteps of his father rather than those of his brother, Gary. As the years progressed, Gerald decided to rule contrary to Gerard’s advice and became an evil, cruel king who was on his own agenda with little concern for the welfare of his subjects.

Within a few short years, his subjects rebelled and Gerald was driven from the throne and died a violent death. Two of Gerald’s family members followed him as king, both of whom were just as evil and unruly as Gerald. As a result, the kingdom met a tragic end, was totally destroyed and never resurrected as a powerful nation.

A sad story, right? But there’s method to our madness — a purpose for alluding to this story.

First, it is a story that is based on fact, not fiction. This kingdom did exist, and its history is included in the Holy Scriptures; the names have been changed in our version to protect the innocent. There’s a lesson for us today within this story. That’s our purpose — to identify the lesson.

The lesson is intended for all authoritarian and would-be authoritarian rulers of the world who, like Gerald, aspire to be the last word in determining the political direction of the nation. Also, unlike Gerald, they would be wise to act on biblically based advice.

Such advice was given by Gerard, but Gerald chose to ignore it and go his own way.

This last bit of advice that Gerald ignored was preserved for us in the pages of the Holy Scriptures, Jeremiah 22:3, in the New Living Translation, “this is what the Lord says: Be fair-minded and just. Do what is right. Help those who have been robbed; rescue them from their oppressors. Quit your evil deeds! Do not mistreat foreigners, orphans, and widows. Stop murdering the innocent.”

One quote from this passage stands out in my mind which, if adhered to, could have a major impact in today’s society, “Quit your evil deeds.” If all national leaders would only obey those four words, we would live in a much better world.

Rev. O.L. Johnson, a retired LAPD lieutenant, is an associate pastor in his home church, Greater New Zion Baptist, 501 W. 80th St. in South Los Angeles.

Pastor’s Corner is a religious column that looks at the relevancy of scripture in life today. The column will appear monthly in The Wave and on its website,