The Old Paths
Jeremiah 6:16 – “Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.”
JEREMIAH WAS ONE OF the greatest prophets who ever lived. He is known as the Weeping Prophet, due to his broken heart at Judah’s refusal to repent. Judah was guilty of idolatry and apostasy. God, in His mercy and longsuffering, would send His prophets to the people calling them to repentance, yet they would not yield.
Jeremiah and his message were rejected. Not only was the message rejected, but the people also rejected Jeremiah. They went as far as putting him into prison, throwing him into a well, and exiling him to Egypt against his will. Yet in all of this, Jeremiah never faltered in his duty and faithfulness to his sacred call.
Jeremiah’s ministry was, for the most part, negative. He wouldn’t fit in with the majority of the churches today as they seek after that which is only positive.
NEGATIVE VERSUS POSITIVE
When it comes to ministry, preaching is to be both positive and negative. We are to preach messages that encourage and inspire the people. We are to preach messages of hope and joy. However, to only preach that which is positive and leave off the negative is an incomplete message. If the preacher is to be true to the call and to the Word of God, then he must preach the positive and the negative.
That which is negative doesn’t win one a lot of friends or support, but as ministers, we are “watchmen” called to stand on the wall and to warn the church of that which is not of God.
In II Timothy 4:2-3, the Apostle Paul told Timothy: “Preach the Word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.”
It is very clear that to reprove and to rebuke is a part of ministry, no matter how unpopular it may be. As ministers, we must never forget that every time we stand to preach, we have in our hands the eternal souls of men and women, and what we preach or don’t preach can have eternal consequences.
THE SINS OF JUDAH
As stated earlier, Judah had gone into idolatry and apostasy. In Jeremiah, Chapter 2, the Lord makes the following statements concerning Judah:
Verse 5: “They are gone far from Me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain.”
Verse 11: “My people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.”
Verse 13: “For My people have committed two evils, they have forsaken Me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.”
Verse 20: “Played the harlot.”
Verse 21: “Turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine.”
Jer. 3:1: “Thou hast played the harlot with many lovers.”
THE SIN OF THE CHURCH
As Judah no longer put her faith in what the sacrifices represented (the coming Messiah and Redeemer) and opted for a “new path” of idolatry and apostasy — a new path that would eventually lead to their destruction — so too has much of the modern church opted for a new path.
What is that new path? It’s any message, any preaching or teaching that is not the Message of the Cross. The new path consists of the schemes and ideas of men to try and address the spiritual needs of God’s people.
I could take several paragraphs and point out the various new paths the church is walking down, but I won’t — you must have discernment; you must have the leading of the Holy Spirit. Don’t settle for me or any other preacher. You must know for yourself, and you can by your knowledge of the Word of God and the help of the Holy Spirit.
WHO LED JUDAH ASTRAY?
Jeremiah 2:8 gives the answer: “The priests said not, Where is the LORD? And they that handle the law knew Me not: The pastors also transgressed against Me. And the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after the things that do not profit.”
This verse makes it clear that it was the priests, pastors, and prophets who led Judah down the new path, and so it is the same today.
The pulpit is the problem, as every strange wind of doctrine is being preached today. Too many of the younger generation of ministers who are preaching today look down upon those giants of the faith of the present and the past. Opening the Bible and preaching God’s Word is out of step and no longer popular. We need to incorporate the world and its ways to become more relevant. But what can be more relevant than the Word of God?
The Bible has the answer for every problem that plagues the human heart. So, as ministers, that is what we must give to the people.
If you want God’s blessings, if you want the power of God, if you want to be a vessel pleasing to the Lord, then this is what you must do:
“Stand ye in the ways.” This means that we are to seek the ways of God. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You shall seek Me, and find Me, when you shall search for Me with all your heart.” The Word of God must be read and studied. One must pray and seek the help of the Lord. That’s the only way one can know the ways of the Lord and the will of the Lord.
“And See.” This means diligently looking for that which belongs to God, and that which is of God is always confirmed by His Word. It doesn’t matter how popular the preacher is or how big the church is. What matters is that what is preached lines up with the Bible.
“Ask for the Old Paths.” The old paths are the great tried and true doctrines of the Bible. They may not be popular. Many may say they are outdated. But, if you will “Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein,” the result will be “rest for your souls.”
I want the old paths. How about you?
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