"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" (Jeremiah 6:16).
At some point - not quite easy
to fix - a false current had entered the stream of the life of
the Lord's people. Small at first, it had gathered momentum,
until it had taken control and was carrying everything before it.
The effect was the almost total
loss of a central and controlling, integrating authority; a loss
of one uniting vision and objective. Out of this there arose
confusion; no one knowing what was right or wrong. This
confusion and uncertainty became wearing and wearisome, and
futility took the heart out of them. The inevitable result of all
this was division.
Some wearily accepted the
situation and sought to neutralize it by compromise. Some, numbed
and bewildered, stood with hand on hips (metaphorically) hoping
that something would come round the corner and things would
improve. Others were fearful and anxious as to where it would all
To this situation God spoke in
the words quoted above. It was a pointer as to the way, and a
challenge to courage, faithfulness, and humility.
"Stand in the ways and see",
said the Lord.
The ways were the crossroads;
the place of alternatives. Go back to where you made the wrong
choice, took the wrong turning, and got off the way of blessing.
In the light of the unhappy present, reconsider your decisions.
Ask yourselves whether 'the old paths', with all their
difficulties and conflicts, were not better than this present.
reflect, consider, relax, break the spell.
The case with Israel seems
definitely to come down on the side of "the old paths".
There was then an authoritative voice; a throne overhead, a
vision and purpose uniting, co-ordinating; a distinctive
objective, and an impact upon peoples near and far. Those days of
David and Solomon were such 'old paths'. They were days when
Heaven was in evidence.
Then came that false current in
the nature of tiring of the heavenly, they stooped to the
earthly, the tangible, the present, the popular and less
ostracized. So the realm and level began to change, until the
situation in Jeremiah's time was the general. But people were
weary of soul.
If it is thought that the
diagnosis which we have given is strained or a mistake, look at
the inclusive answer in chapter 17, verse twelve:
"A glorious throne, set
on high from the beginning, is the place of our sanctuary".
The rule of the heavenly is the
sanctuary; the refuge and rest. It was the way of the opened
Heaven, which is the way of God's satisfaction. Says the Lord:
"And ye shall find rest for your souls". We seem to
have heard words like those before.
The reconsideration at the
crossroads must lead to action. Having stood, asked, and seen -
"walk therein". Repent, return, decide, do! "Walk
The open mind and heart. The
submissive and humble will. The honest and courageous resolve and
"Ask". "Walk". "Find rest".
First published in "A Witness and A Testimony"
magazine, Sep-Oct 1964, Vol 42-5