Daily Family Worship

Jeremiah 6: Walk in the Old Paths!

by | Jul 10, 2023

Jeremiah 6

Part 1

jeremiah 6

The tender heart of Jeremiah was filled with the utmost sorrow at the heavy tidings that he was called to preach. Throughout his book, we constantly encounter the expressions of his anguish. True patriot as he was, it was hard for him to contemplate the impending destruction of the Holy City. Although he had no alternative than to announce the Lord’s judgments which he saw coming swiftly upon his people, there was a sob in the voice that predicted them. So far from desiring the evil day, he would have very gladly laid down his own life in order to avert it. The prophet’s life was full of that same spirit which, many years later, led the Master to weep as He beheld the guilty and doomed city of Jerusalem. Many great preachers of repentance, in all the centuries of church history, have known something of this bewailing. Side by side with their vehement denunciations of coming judgment, there has been a sorrowful longing over the souls of lost human beings.

The first eight verses of this chapter contain the prophet’s warning to his fellow countrymen to be on the alert for the advancement of the destroying army of the Babylonians, who would come from “the north” (verse 1); for they were about to break in upon the land of Judah, and they would speedily devour all that lay in their path. No matter what methods sinful men employ in an effort to escape or outwit the judgments of the Lord upon their sins, they shall find that all their efforts are in vain. The more that we indulge in the sinful pleasures of this life, the more we make ourselves unfit and unprepared to meet the troubles of this life. The day is quickly coming when those who are careless and secure in their sinful ways will be brought to a reckoning. It is folly to trifle in these matters; for we have an eternal salvation that must be laid hold of, and the enemies of that salvation that must be fought against. Those who willfully and obstinately go on in the pleasures of sin shall discover – too late – that they have wasted the priceless opportunities that the gracious Lord had put in their path. Let us take care to seek the Savior now, and to pray for His grace to wean us away from our love of sin; for it is a dangerous matter to wait until our life is about to pass into eternity before we make our peace with God!

The God of mercy is slow and reluctant to depart even from a provoking people (verses 9-17). He earnestly pleads with them that they may repent and reform themselves, so that they may prevent things from coming to an extremity; for when He arises to take vengeance, no sinners of any age, rank, or sex shall be able to escape. The people in Jeremiah’s time had their hearts set upon the world, and they were completely carried away by the love of it. And sadly, we may still find multitudes in every generation and station of life who are given over to this sin. They do not care to hear the Word of God; they are greatly in love with the perishing things of this mortal life, and so they have no appreciation for the finer things of eternity. Even the most melodious harmonies are only an annoyance to those who have no musical ear. The joyful and delightful sounds of the Gospel of Jesus are unappreciated as long as people’s hearts remain hardened, and their ears closed up.

What made matters even worse for Jeremiah’s countrymen was that they had no shortage of false prophets who flattered them in their sinful ways. They proclaimed a message of false peace (verse 14), which made the people secure and comfortable in their sins. And unfortunately, these kinds of preachers are not extinct, even today. O that people would be wise for their souls! O that they would ask for the old paths (verse 16) – the ways of Godliness and righteousness, which have always been the paths that the Lord has ordained and blessed! The old paths are set forth in the written Word of God. And when you have found the good way, go on in it, and you will find an abundant recompence indeed at your journey’s end. But if you will not obey the voice of God and flee to His appointed Refuge, it will be plainly evident on the Day of Judgment that you are eternally ruined because you rejected the free offer of Christ’s Gospel, as it is revealed in the words of Scripture (verse 19). Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life; and He is “the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” And Who else besides He offers true rest for the soul?

Jehovah rejected the outward ceremonies of worship that His people were engaging in (verse 20). The sacrifices and incense of the Levitical system were intended to direct their eyes forward to the coming Messiah; but when mere rituals are mechanically observed as a sort of “license” to go on in sin, even these acts of “worship” are provoking to God.

People’s sins make them an easy prey to their enemies, causing them to be afraid to even show their faces (verses 24-26). And obstinate sinners are the worst of all revolters. They are compared to ore that is expected to have good metal in it, but which proves to be all dross (verses 28-30). Even if they were to be heated up in the metal-worker’s refining-furnace, nothing prevails to part them from their chosen sins. They shall be called “reprobate silver” – that is, useless and worthless. When warnings, corrections, rebukes, and all means of grace have left people unrenewed, they will be rejected by God and left to everlasting misery. Let us pray, then, that we may be refined and purified by the Lord, for we are all “reprobate silver” until the Great Refiner and Purifier has brought us through the furnace of His regenerating and renewing Spirit. In ourselves, we are forever rejected – until we are chosen and accepted in Jesus! (Eph. 1:4-7)

Part 2

jeremiah 6

Let us go back to the 16th verse for a moment, and consider it further. “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!” Are the “old paths” always Divine, and are the “new ways” always as dangerous as this prophet thought them to be? We must interpret Scripture with Scripture. Jeremiah looked back with lingering affection; but Paul – who had seen a fuller revelation of the truth in Christ – had his eyes in front of him, and advised us to forget the things which are behind. And a Teacher Who is even greater than Paul has told us that every wise man will bring things “out of his treasury” that are both “new and old!” The person who sneers at everything which is old, and imagines that wisdom always wears a brand-new face, has precious little wisdom to begin with. The alphabet and the simple rules of arithmetic are more ancient than an Egyptian mummy, but they are not out-of-date! We still need some of the old things which Noah and Abraham prized. But on the other hand, the man who sets his face against everything that is new is shutting his eyes to the light.

To always bind ourselves to the old paths is, in many things, impossible. We live in the midst of rapid movement and change; and we are carried along by it, in spite of ourselves. And even if we could always remain in the old ways, it would be paralyzing; for it would be the end of all healthy life and action. It is a distinguishing feature of Christian nations to cast off some things that are old, and to put on some things that are new. And it is a dead religion which stands still, and makes people stand still also. The spirit of life in Christ Jesus urges the world onward – away from the dead past, and nearer to the golden heavenly age which is yet to be. We hardly dare to mention some of the terrible things which are going on in other nations of the world. And much of it comes from a blind, brutal, obstinate clinging to anything and everything that is old – simply because it is old. The Lord, in His mercy, has brought us out of all that; and He has given us grace to learn newer and better things – not only in religion, but also in every department of life. We would never dream of going back in science, machinery, politics, government, or freedom of thought and speech – or in our faith.

Nevertheless, to forsake all the old paths is a folly that is quite as blind and self-destructive as to cling to them all. Wisdom was not born in the present century! It dwelt with God before the foundation of the world, and He gave some of it to people who lived thousands of years before our time. We are cleverer than the ancients in some things, but not in all! In many respects, ancient thinkers were far superior to the best minds of today. We could not now produce such books as some of the old writers wrote, and the Hebrew prophets and Psalmists put all of our cleverest poets into the shade. We cannot build such magnificent structures as the men of old built. We cannot paint pictures or carve statues or create things of beauty as they did. We have none who can rival Milton or Bunyan. In moral and religious things, many of the ancients were far in advance of our best persons; and we can only reach some of their excellence by learning from them, and from treading in the old paths. In fact, in the greatest things of life, the old ways are the everlasting ways – and the only ways of safety. They have stood the test of time! For answers to the momentous questions of morality and righteousness, worship and reverence, sin and human need, God and immortality, spiritual mysteries and things unseen – for answers to these, we must still sit like children at the feet of those giants of faith like Moses and Paul, who walked with God and spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. We cannot dispense with the Ten Commandments or the Sermon on the Mount. If we want to find the highest and best pictures of manhood, we must stand in the old paths and not in the new; we must look back, rather than around us. If we want to know what sin is, we must go to the Bible and the Cross of Jesus, and not to modern ideas which often make light of sin and treat it as an incurable disease. If we want to learn the depths of repentance, we must go to the soul-stricken David or the weeping Peter. And if we desire to see light beyond the grave, we must go 2,000 years back and stand with the women and the disciples before the Savior’s open tomb! And if we wish to learn how to live and love, how to endure and hope, and how to suffer and die – it is only in the Bible’s old paths that we can learn the lesson! The new lights of our modern times may show us how to get money faster, and how to make life smoother and more comfortable; but they will not help us to be brave in difficulties, patient in cross-bearing, and fearless in the hour of death. For that, only the “old paths” of the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be of any use to us!

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for the “old paths” of the Gospel. Thank You for being the Way, the Truth, and the Life – as well as the Giver of rest for our souls! Amen.

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Part 1 photo by Megan Mucci  |  Lightstock.com
Part 2 photo by Tognopop  |  Wikimedia Commons