This Week's Focus Passage

Jeremiah 6:16: Ask for the old paths, where is the good way.

There is something of a climax to be found to this exhortation that God has given to His people through the prophet Jeremiah. It is found in the 31st chapter of this prophecy. It does not escape our notice that the 31st chapter of Jeremiah is that which contains the well-known and much admired expression of the New Covenant. But prior to the actual expressing of that blessed new covenant in verses 21-22, instructions are given which, at least, sound like they are intended to assist any, that by God’s grace, have inclined to Ask for the old paths, where is the good way. This ‘instruction’ is quite pointed—no pun intended. But God has spoken again through the prophet in these two verses, saying;

Set thee up waymarks, make thee guide-posts; set thy heart toward the highway, even the way by which thou wentest: turn again, O virgin of Israel, turn again to these thy cities. How long wilt thou go hither and thither, O thou backsliding daughter? for Jehovah hath created a new thing in the earth: a woman shall encompass a man. —Jeremiah 31:21-22

Prior to this demanding expression, there was something that might be considered a coordinating expostulation, or qualified promise, in verse 12:16 when it is said:

And it shall come to pass [are these not the common words that introduce prophetic utterances?], if they will diligently learn the ways of my people, to swear by my name, As Jehovah liveth; even as they taught my people to swear by Baal; then shall they be built up in the midst of my people. But if they will not hear, then will I pluck up that nation, plucking up and destroying it, saith Jehovah.

The cause, or complaint against His people, was made manifest in 18:15-16 when another thus saith Jehovah was announced. In that place, God lamented:

For my people have forgotten me, they have burned incense to false gods; and they have been made to stumble in their ways, in the ancient paths, to walk in bypaths, in a way not cast up; to make their land an astonishment, and a perpetual hissing; every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished, and shake his head. I will scatter them as with an east wind before the enemy; I will show them the back, and not the face, in the day of their calamity.

Is it not remarkable—worthy of remark—just how frequently reference is made to the ‘good way,’ and, ‘waymarks, guideposts, toward the highway, even the way,’ as it all seems to point to the new covenant promise which was to be ratified in the blood of Him who is indeed, Himself the ‘way, the truth, and the life’? These signs, these waymarks, these guides, these exhortations each ultimately directed not only to a Person that was to come, but to the eternal truth, the old paths that He would Himself direct His auditory to give heed. Clearly did He declare that He had come to fulfil all righteousness. His words which must have reverberated upon the mountain into which He went up, and then opened his mouth and taught them, still reverberate for us today:

Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets: I came not to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass away from the law, till all things be accomplished. —Matthew 5:17-18

Is this not the fulfilment of the new covenant promised in Jeremiah 31? This new covenant, in Jeremiah 31:31, that God said He would make with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah, is more fully defined in the 33rd verse as Jehovah explicates, or explains, His purposes and designs for His people. He spoke further:

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith Jehovah: I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

And is it not of utmost importance for us to be ever mindful that Christ Himself is the manifestation in the flesh of the promise? Yea, He is our covenant! Isaiah has pronounced this reality in no uncertain terms, saying in 42:6ff, which chapter begins with Behold, my servant, prophetically of the Christ;

I Jehovah have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thy hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house.

That Isaiah has spoken of the promised ‘consolation of Israel’ is confirmed by the usage of this passage by Simeon is his beautiful ‘song’ of Luke 2:29-32;

Now lettest thou thy servant depart, Lord, according to thy word, in peace; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples; a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

These blessed words were uttered by this righteous and devout man upon his receiving the consolation of Israel into his arms. He attested that, as he viewed this ‘holy thing’ in his arms, he could say, mine eyes have seen thy salvation. This was the promise which God had prepared; this was the light for revelation to the Gentiles. This surely was the promised covenant in the flesh. And He is not only a light unto the Gentiles, but He is the Light of the world, as He Himself declared. He declared, moreover, that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. May we not properly say that He is ‘the old paths, where is the good way,’ and ought we not to walk therein, and find rest for our souls? Has He not said, Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest? Follow this Path where is the Good Way!

David Farmer, elder
Fellowship Bible Church


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