This Week's Focus Passage

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


This Week’s Focus Passage: Jeremiah 6:16

‘Ask for the old paths, where is the good way.’


    We read, at the beginning of a new paragraph, the word of Jehovah, spoken through Jeremiah the prophet, in Jeremiah 6:16; words to the wayward Israelites:

    Thus saith Jehovah, 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. And I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet; but they said, We will not hearken. 

    Every generation, since the beginning—notably at the first, that manslayer, yea, that fratricide—Cain, would not give any attention to the Work spoken by God. Yea, every generation, every nation, every tribe, every race, every person, regardless of type of employment; plumbers, farmers, engineers, construction workers, members of the military, male and female alike; they must seek the good way, they must ‘hearken to the trumpet,’ but multitudes have not, and will not. It is not enough to be born and raised in a land where bibles may be easily obtained; they must be read. It is not enough to live in a society where there are proverbially, Christian churches on every corner, one must place themselves under the preaching of the gospel. And it is not enough to read a bible; it is not enough to sit under a sermon wherein is proclaimed the gospel of salvation through none other than the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world. No, Paul preached clearly to those of Athens, when he stood in the midst of the Aeropagus, and said, The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent: inasmuch as he hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.—Acts 17:30.

    What we find in Jeremiah, and then what we find as well in Paul’s preaching in Acts, is none other than what we may find repeated over and again in both the older Testament and the newer Testament. We find these two paths set before the people by Joshua, in his parting counsels to the people, in Joshua 24:14-15, in very simplistic, yet terse terms, when he somberly challenged them: 

    Now therefore fear Jehovah, and serve him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River, and in Egypt; and serve ye Jehovah. And if it seem evil unto you to serve Jehovah, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were beyond the River, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve Jehovah.

    These folk in Jeremiah’s day were really no different from those of Joshua’s day, nor any different to whom Christ Jesus promulgated similar choices to be made by those whom He was addressing; speaking to them in parables of illustration. He told them of two different men; home-builders, but men that made different choices. Both Matthew and Luke recount this utterance; in Matthew 7:24-25, as well as in Luke 6:48. Jesus has interrogated his auditory when inquiring, Why do ye call me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? The inquiry is followed with a story:

    Every one that cometh unto me, and heareth my words, and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who digged and went deep, and laid a foundation upon the rock: and when a flood arose: the stream brake against that house, and could not shake it: because it had been well builded. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that built a house upon the earth without a foundation; against which the stream brake, and straightway it fell in; and the ruin of that house was great.

This is very likely where James gets his doctrine about the matter; that which he puts in the form of a straight-forward admonition, writing; But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deluding your own selves. Yes, one may sit under the Word, one may read the Word every day, yet it is not those that sit under the Word, not those that read the Word—things in and of themselves very good and necessary in themselves, of course—but, says James, if we are not doers of the Word, we are deluding ourselves; we are deceiving ourselves; we are simply fooling ourselves. We are called upon to be doers; that is the teaching of Christ in the parable above; that is the teaching of Joshua and Jeremiah in their respective books. It is not sufficient to stand in the way; neither simply to ask for the old paths, where is the good way. We must walk therein; we must walk in the way; we must walk in the good way if we would find rest for our souls. This is the teaching, once again, in Matthew 11:29 where He has called, Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. But we are also directed to Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest for your souls. It is not only hearing, but doing; not only coming, but taking His yoke upon us, that through which we shall find rest for our souls.

    An eighteenth century Baptist preacher and commentator, John Gill, has, we believe, written very helpfully upon this passage from Jeremiah 6:16; saying this:

“Now, in religious things, the Scriptures are the way-mark to direct us which way we should take: if the inquiry is about the way of salvation, look up to these, which are able to make a man wise unto salvation; these show unto men that the way of salvation is not works of righteousness done by them, but Christ only: if the question is about any doctrine whatever, search the Scriptures, examine them, they are profitable for doctrine; they tell us what is truth, and what is error: if the doubt is about the matter or form of worship, and the ordinances of it, look into the Scriptures, they are the best directory to us what we should observe and do: and ask for the old paths; of righteousness and holiness, which Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and others, walked in, and follow them; and the way of salvation by Christ.”—John Gill.

Christ has given us a ‘new way,’ according to Hebrews 10:20; Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by the way which he dedicated for us, a new and living way, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh, and having a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near…. “This is not actually newly found out, for it was contrived in eternity.” Ibid. 


David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church


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