It is customary at the beginning of a new year to look ahead in preparation for, if not anticipation of, what the future might hold. That kind of exercise is essential if, for example, a business wishes to be successful. But an honest and accurate assessment of the future is an invaluable tool for personal success as well. Though the future may sometimes appear bleak, peering into what lies ahead often is viewed with some measure of excitement. After all, almost everyone likes something new. Our society in particular seems obsessed with the latest technological gadget or the newest thing in fashions and styles. We can hardly wait till it’s time to trade in our old car, and on and on. But as believers, we have a special responsibility to hold onto and to guard some old things. Truth, for example is eternal; though more ancient than the beginning of time, it is as current as the date on today’s calendar and more relevant than whatever is being reported in the news right now.
God insists that we retain those old truths. The prophet Jeremiah reminded his nation: “Thus says the Lord, ‘Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls.’ But they said, ‘We will not walk in it’” (6:16).
The piling up of verbs—“stand (by),” “see,” “ask (for),” “walk (in)”—serves to emphasize the importance God places on this command. He wants us to understand what He knows, namely, that there is no substitute for eternal truth. Spiritual victory and eternal blessing depend upon our relationship to the unchanging truth found in God’s Word. We must “stand by” and not depart from the truth that we have received already. We must “see,” or recognize and acknowledge, it to be from God and both valid and authoritative in its governance of our lives. We must “ask for” that truth; there must be an active desire to search it out, to know and understand it. And we must “walk in” it, that is, we must believe and obey it. Adherence to the truth does not come by accident or chance. It demands great care and energy on our part. Everywhere around us, the ancient paths are being bulldozed by the engineers of a modern society. But the highways they are building to replace the ancient paths, while they look inviting, are not taking us to the same destination as the old paths. The old paths lead us to the Lord, to deliverance from sin, to salvation, to eternal life. The modern highways lead us to self and Satan, to enslavement in sin, and to eternal damnation.
Leaving the ancient paths is a recipe for disaster. It is a futile attempt to find peace, joy, and contentment apart from God’s way. But God makes an unequivocal promise to those who will adhere to His eternal, unchanging truth: “you will find rest for your souls.” Those words are emblazoned on the sign in front of God’s Inn along that old path. They invite all believers to find respite from the struggles of the journey. Those who leave the old paths for a new highway will search in vain for such a rest stop. On and on they go; there is not a single hotel anywhere on that highway; there isn’t even a shoulder wide enough for them to pull off and rest their weary bodies for a moment. On and on they go until, overcome with exhaustion, they fall asleep and crash into hell. “Rest for your souls” is provided only by God through the old truths He has revealed in His Word. How wonderfully they beckon us.
In response to this wise command and gracious promise, God notes that His people have rebelliously resisted His will: “But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’” Were it possible, we might imagine God to be astounded by such heinous rejection. But God is not astounded; rather, He is both grieved and offended. In holiness and righteousness He responds: “Behold, I am bringing disaster on this people, The fruit of their plans, Because they have not listened to My words, and as for My law, they have rejected it also. Behold, I am laying stumbling blocks before this people. And they will stumble against them, Fathers and sons together; Neighbor and friend will perish” (6:19, 21).
Will we begin 2016 be like God’s people of old and reject the ancient paths, or will we cling with all our strength, will, and devotion to the truth “once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3)?
Previous Page | Next Page