Summary: Our culture tells us to always look for the new and improved; the latest is always the greatest. Pastors are always on the lookout for new methods, new gimmicks, and worst of all, new doctrines. The Bible is full of warnings to God’s people that the popul
Opening illustration: We who believe that God has absolute moral standards are viewed by some segments of society as intolerant simpletons. We are cautioned not to express our disapproval over certain immoral behavior.
Television commentator Andy Rooney once announced his revulsion at the perverse sexual conduct increasingly evident in our culture. But pressure from special interest groups that promote immoral lifestyles coerced him to apologize.
Our circumstances are amazingly similar to those Jeremiah confronted 2,600 years ago. The people had no shame. No perversion made them blush. Even the religious leaders were part of this deplorable situation! Jeremiah, however, proclaimed God’s anger and warned of imminent divine judgment. The prophet pleaded for a return to the “old paths, where the good way is” (v. 16), the paths of renunciation of sin and obedience to God.
Jesus showed us the good way when He invited all who “labor and are heavy laden” to come to Him (Matthew 11: 28). And He gave us the assurance that His “yoke is easy” and His “burden is light” (v. 30). How we must be thankful to God for showing us the way that brings real happiness.
Let us turn to Jeremiah 6 and catch up with the Godly narrative on returning to our landmarks …
Introduction: The days of Jeremiah's ministry to the people of Israel were days of deep spiritual wickedness. The people had sinned against God to the point where He was ready to give them up into captivity. And, in fact, they did go into captivity in just a few short years. Yet, even while they perched on the edge of judgment, the Lord desires to see them turn back to Him.
In this passage, we are given the image of a traveler who comes to a fork in the road. He has the opportunity to go anyway he desires, but God tells him to ask for the "old paths, where is the good way." Instead of just traveling blindly on, this traveler is to stop and ask directions. The Lord wants His people to travel the right path. He wants them on a path that will lead them in His direction. While this word of correction was spoken to the Jews many years ago, there is a lesson in this passage for the modern church today.
The Lord would still have His people to ask for the old paths. My desire for you is to know that there is a right path and there is a wrong path. We must be sure we are walking the one which God has ordained, the one that He can bless, and the one that honors Him.
(A) What is Godly instruction? (Jeremiah 31: 21)
(i) Set up signposts
(ii) Make landmarks
(iii) Set your heart toward the highway, The way in which you went
(iv) Turn back, O virgin of Israel, Turn back to these your cities.
(B) How to find the good old ways (Landmarks/Ancient Path)?
1. Stand by and Look (v. 16a)
The idolatrous people of the northern kingdom influenced the people of the southern kingdom. Jeremiah condemned their idolatry. At the crossroad, he tells them, “Stop and look first at the road to destruction! The road is full of idols! These idols are stumbling blocks in this path, and you will stumble. At the end of this road, fathers and sons together, neighbor and friend shall perish” (Jeremiah 6: 21). But Judah did not pay attention.
On this same path that the Jews chose in Jeremiah’s day are Christians walking in all kinds of worship practices from the world. Pastors boast of gimmicks, talk shows, music, instruments, and all other sorts of worldly entertainment that they have presented to the people as the right path of worshiping God. These men of God are directing their people in this path full of stumbling blocks, a path which leads them to destruction.
Not only is this path full of worldly idol-gods; this is the path that most people travel. Many even say, “This is only one of the paths that leads to heaven. Whatever path you take – Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, New Age – that path will lead you to heaven.” In the days of the Roman Empire, the Roman emperors built roads from the far reaches of the empire which led to the center of the empire, the city of Rome, and they said, “All roads lead to Rome.”
This is the path that most people are taking today, the path of false worship full of innovations derived from the unbelieving world, the same syncretistic path that Israel of old walked, the path that leads to destruction.
At the crossroad, Jeremiah warns Israel, “Before you take the path of false worship, stop and look and think!” Then, before they continue their travel, he tells the people to ask, ‘Where is the ancient path, where the way of the good is?’”