Summary: If God is to ever bless us as He desires, we must relocate the old paths and commit ourselves to them.
"Relocating the Old Paths"
"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."
In our hymnals we find the song, "The Old Time Religion." Contained within are the words, "Give me that old time religion." While many yet hold dear to the message of that great old hymn, there is a shift today that finds us heading in a different direction. Religion today shouts of tolerance. Religion today is geared more for entertainment. Religion today seeks to deal with individuals more on a social level than a spiritual one. Religion today, as vast as it is in style, offers little substance to change the hearts of a sin-sick generation.
As we look at our passage today, we are reminded of a time in Israel’s history which is very much similar to our day. We find Israel had become lazy and complacent in their devotion to God. They sought prophets who would tickle their ears and tell them that all was well (v. 14). They simply were seeking those who would tell them what they wanted to hear. We find this commonplace today. The Apostle Paul warns us of this in II Timothy 4:3 when he states, "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." Israel had already done this. Verse 17 informs us that God had appointed ministers who would blow the trumpet, or in other words would "tell it like it is," but they would not hearken.
For this reason, Jeremiah prophesies God’s judgment on Israel. Even though judgment is on the horizon, true to His loving nature, God provides council to Israel. He gives them directions on how to right the ship. He likens His directions to a traveler standing at a fork in the road attempting to decide which direction that he should take. God gives clear instructions to Israel, that they take the old paths. These old paths of godliness and righteousness God has always blessed and prospered. Once chosen, Israel was to walk in them. In other words, they were to make practical application of their decision in their everyday lives. Faith without works is a dead faith being alone. But Israel, as seen in our text refused. They would not walk therein.
What do we need to do to get back to the old paths in our lives, in our homes, and in our churches? What can we do to assure that God’s judgment doesn’t fall on us as it did Israel?
I. Reclaim The Pure Word
We must understand that the Word of God is our only rule of faith and practice. But what rule is it if the rule is not pure and infallible? Throughout the ranks of religion, many versions of scripture are found, many interpretations are given, and many conclude that although the Bible is a "good" book, it still was written by men and therefore must contain errors for men are prone to make mistakes. This is the current modern liberal view of the Scriptures. But there are yet more who consider themselves fundamental and state that the original transcripts, although penned by man, are infallible because they were spoken by God and penned by God’s appointed men, but then they fall short by denying the preservation of Scripture when stating that there are errors in the Word due to the vast many translations of man. Many simply do not believe that they have the pure Word of God.
While the above mentioned views may be prevalent in many religious circles today, they are not correct. Psalm 12:6-7 assures us of the purity and accuracy of the Scriptures, "The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this wicked generation forever." We know from these two verses that the Word of God is perfectly pure, and we also know that it is God Himself that will preserves His Word, not man. But did God preserve just His thoughts and ideals? Has man changed the words as purported by so many of today’s so called scholars? Nay. And again I say, Nay! Proverbs 30:5 states that, "Every word of God is pure." It is every word from God that Jesus states we are to live by in Matthew 4:4, and we can rest assured that we have the exact Word of God for Jesus promised that not one jot or tittle would pass away.
But what about the translators, their histories, and their agendas? Certainly the Word must have been corrupted through them! Not according to God. Isaiah 40:8 states that the Word of God will never pass away. Jesus states something even greater in Matthew 24:35. He states not even the very "words" of God will pass away. These are not just thoughts and ideals, but the very words.