Ask for the Ancient Paths – Jeremiah 6:16

If you’ve listened to my podcast, this scripture is familiar to you.

I recently spent some time transcribing the first podcast episode. I may do more of this in the future, making that content available in print as well as on the podcast feed and my YouTube channel (the video is also below).

This text is highly edited and shortened somewhat from the podcast. I offer it to you, in case you find it helpful:

Jeremiah 6:16 says, Stand at the crossroads and look. Ask for the ancient paths. Ask where the good way is and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.

This has been a key verse for me for many years. I can’t remember when I first encountered it, but it was perhaps 25 or 30 years ago. As I have pondered and applied it, this verse has been very, very helpful as I’ve lived the life that God has given me.

I want to share a few thoughts which have been very beneficial to me and my family over the years. Let’s see how God can use this scripture it to influence our thinking and our perspective.

Stand at the crossroads and look, ask for the ancient paths.

The first thing that I see here is that we’re told to stand at the crossroads and look. That first word is vital: Stand.

As we go through our lives, we very often come to crossroads, times of decision. Some are very important decisions; some are perhaps not so important (or seemingly not so important), yet yet we come to these crossroads in life. Quite regularly, I find myself at a point of decision, a place where I need to see and understand how best to move ahead. I want to know, what does God have for me? Which way should I go?

As we come to these crossroads the Lord is saying, “Stand there. Don’t keep moving. Even if you feel like you must keep moving, do not keep moving. Stand and look. Take the time to stand.”

Our lives can be very hectic, the pressures on us can be so great. Perhaps people’s expectations of us cause pressure, or our expectations of ourselves can influence our decisions. And the Lord says, “Stand there and look.” Keep your eyes up. He wants us to look outside of ourselves to see what is going on.

And then the next sentence is perhaps the most important: ask for the ancient paths. It is so ery important to ask – not try to figure it out, not try to think things through, but to ask. Where are the ancient paths? Where are these good ways? What is the ancient path here before me? What is the good way for me? This is a worthy prayer.

And here I want to go to something that Jesus said when he was asked an important question. One of the experts of the law tested Jesus with a question. He said, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?” And here Jesus replies, quoting Deuteronomy chapter 6, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.”  Jesus is saying, “The most important thing of all the Law, is to love God.”  

So then, returning to Jeremiah chapter 6, we come to a question – how do we discern the ancient path, the good way?

I believe Jesus revealed an ancient path: to love God.

And so, when I am given a choice, when I see options before me, I will ask for this ancient path: “God, which of these options helps me to love you more? Which of these decisions leads me to love you more?” Because an ancient path, a very good way, is the way that leads me to love Him more.

Very often when I ask that question, I’ll receive clarity quite quickly, because the Spirit is revealing His will. Often when I have a decision, one path will be either more selfish or self-concerned, or perhaps more comfortable or an easy, familiar choice. Another path will be one of self-sacrifice, of living by faith.

And then I can say, “Well, the thing that helps me to love God more is to take the path that may not be as familiar to me or as comfortable, but one that makes me depend upon Him more and walk into the miraculous, where I know that if he doesn’t do something, then nothing gets done.”

This helps me tremendously, to ask, “God, of all the options ahead of me, which is the way that helps me to love you more?” And then listen for this answer.

Ask for the ancient paths. Ask where the good way is and walk in it . . .

And this also is vital – to walk in what we’ve received from God. It’s a theme I return to very often. Not only do we need to know the will of God, but we also must do it. We must walk in it. This is the living out of His will. We ask for this path. We ask for the good way, and then we walk. We don’t just do something a single time; we live it out.

Jesus himself said, “I am the way.” Christianity is not a set of religious beliefs to which we give mental ascent at one point in time. To be a Christian is to be a disciple of Jesus. And a disciple is one who travels with his teacher, who lives with his teacher, who sits at his teacher’s feet and learns.

Jeremiah 6:16 is saying, ask where that good way is and then walk in it. Don’t run, don’t be scared, don’t look back fearfully, just walk in the way that God has shown you.

And the promise is you’ll find rest for your soul. That’s a promise, the natural result of obedience. If we stand at a crossroads and we look around and we ask God to reveal the ancient paths, the good way, and then we walk in what he’s revealed to us, then our souls will be at peace. We will find that rest.

This is a fundamental understanding for Christians –  the importance and the necessity of surrendering our will to God, standing at these moments of choosing and asking Him to show us the way and then actually doing His will, by His grace.

Jesus himself said, “Anyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a man who built his house on a rock.” But, Jesus said, “If anyone hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice, then he’s like a man who built his house on sand.” The difference is the doing of what he says, not the hearing of it.

Perhaps you, wherever you are, whatever your circumstance, are at a crossroads in life, a point of decision making, and you’re not sure of where God wants you to go, what path He wants you to take. I encourage you, stand, don’t let people force you into making a decision before you have revelation from God. He will give you what you need when you need it.

James says that if any of us lacks wisdom, we should ask, and God will give wisdom without finding fault. And when we ask, we should not doubt that He’s going to give us wisdom. Because if we do doubt, then we’re like waves in the ocean. We’re just thrown back and forth.

So, I encourage you – stand at the crossroads, you be immovable, and you ask the Lord to reveal His will. What is the ancient path for you? Expect His answer. He will give it to you when you need it. It may be at the very last moment; it may be a few months in advance. It’s up to Him when He wants to reveal His will for you. He knows the best time.

He’s never late, so he’s never anxious.

Stand at the crossroads and look. Ask for the ancient paths. Ask where the good way is and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.

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