Ask for the Ancient Paths (Jer. 6:16)

Progress and progressive are two hot words right now. We are hearing a lot about progress lately. From Washington and even from our religious friends. However, is it really progress if we’re on the wrong road? I am reminded of something C.S. Lewis said about progress. He said, “We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.”

Just before Jerusalem was sent into captivity, God sent to them Jeremiah the prophet. Through Jeremiah God calls to His people to consider their ways, repent of their wickedness, and turn back to the good path. To make real progress. The prophet Jeremiah says in Jer. 6:16, “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.” Why do we need the ancient paths? What characterizes them? And what is included? These are the questions we want to consider this morning.

Why Do We Need to Ask for the Ancient Paths?

  • They are the paths of God.
    • The scriptures all testify that the paths of God are the good and only paths that we should walk. Jeremiah speaks of these ancient paths as “the good way” Jeremiah 6:16.
    • Solomon in his prayer of dedication in 1 Kings 8:36 prays to God that He would, “teach them the good way in which they should walk.”
    • When Jesus came, He said that He was “the way and the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me” John 14:6.
    • The question is, why we would choose any other path?
  • They are perfect paths.
    • The ancient paths need no improvement or reforming because from the very beginning they were made perfect.
      • Psalm 18:30 “As for God, His way is blameless; The word of the Lord is tried; He is a shield of all who take refuge in Him.”
      • Psalm 19:7 “The law of the Lord is perfect…”
    • Because the paths are perfect, we do not have to worry about detours, updates, or changes. [ Ex. 1999 World Almanac. UO tuition per year was $2K. Now, just under 13K].
    • They are the paths of truth and righteousness.
      • Psalm 119:30 – The faithful way (KJV the way of truth).
      • John 14:6 – Jesus said He was the way and the truth.
      • Romans 3:4 – God is always true. Not so with men.

What are Characteristics of the Ancient Paths?

  • They are singular.
    • Many today have bought into the idea of relativism. That is, what is true for you is not necessarily true for me. Another idea is religious pluralism, that is there are many paths to God. So, it is very strange, to our culture, when someone says that there is only one way to do something. Or there is only one way that pleases God.
      • Again, Jesus said He was/is the way and the truth. Singular.
      • Hence why Jesus is preached as the only way to heaven (Acts 4:12).
    • They are often not popular.
      • Jeremiah was not a popular man when he delivered God’s message to Judah to repent and return. Throughout the Bible we find that those who stick to the ancient paths were often not popular (Ex. Elijah and the Prophets).
      • Serving God is not about being liked by the world but being pleasing in His sight.
        • Noah was a preacher of righteousness, a godly man, one who stood by the ancient paths. Saved eight persons. 1 Peter 3:20.
        • John the Baptist was not a popular man because of him standing firm on the ancient paths (Matthew 14:3-10). Jesus said of Him that there was no one greater than John the Baptist while under the Old Law (Matthew 11:11).
    • They are the narrow way that leads to life.
      • Jesus in the sermon on the mount said this in Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the fate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
      • This narrow path is the good path that Jeremiah spoke of. It is the good path that the Old Testament writers pointed to. It is the good path that Jesus Himself is.
      • It is a narrow and hard to find path not because God has hidden it. It is hard to find path because few are looking for it.

What Is Included in The Ancient Paths?

  • The Ancient Gospel
    • The Gospel is ancient but is not out of date. It still has the power to save us from our sins as it did when it was first preached.
    • Romans 1:16 – The gospel’s power.
    • 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 – The gospel defined.
  • The Ancient Church
    • Have you ever wondered why there are so many churches today? Why they all seem to teach contradictory things? Worship in different ways? It is because many are on the wrong path.
    • We need a return to the ancient paths in all things. This included the church. We need to work on restoring the church of the Bible and not reforming what we already have.
      • Jesus promised to build only one church Matthew 16:18.
      • We as His people, as Christians, ought to be in subjection to Him in all things (Ephesians 5:22-23).
      • Which means whatever Christ, or His inspired writers, said about the church, its nature, its work, etc. we need to be doing that.
    • If you are visiting with us this morning and were wondering why is that we all ate the Lord’s supper, why we all sang from the heart without instruments, why we all gave freely, and why we are now sharing in the teaching of the Word of God. It is not because we came up with all of this or had a meeting about it. We do these things because this is what the Bible teaches.
  • The Ancient Name
    • Part of going back to the ancient paths is going back to the ancient name. Christian.
    • When I was in college, I ran into some people I had gone to high school with on the train. We got talking and I had brought up that I was in preacher training at the time. They asked, “what are you?” I replied, “a Christian.” They with puzzled faces asked again, “No, we mean what are you? Baptist? Methodist?” To which I replied again, “I’m just a Christian. Nothing more nothing less.”
    • We read in Acts 11:26 that the early disciples were first called Christians at Antioch. And Peter tells us in 1 Peter 4:16 that I am to glorify God by the name Christian.


We need to seek after and ask for the ancient paths. Not because we have some sort of nostalgia itch, we need scratched but because these are the paths of God. God has given these paths for our benefit. Jeremiah called them the good paths where we can find rest for our souls.

Maybe you are here this morning and realized that the way you are living life is not the right path. You realize you are in sin, and you need a savior. Jesus said He is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him. Are you willing to give your life to Him this morning? Mark 16:16.

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