Day 220: Walk the Ancient Paths (Jeremiah 6:16-17)

Through the Bible: Jeremiah 4-6

16 Thus says the Lord:
“Stand by the roads, and look,
    and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way is; and walk in it,
    and find rest for your souls.
But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
17 I set watchmen over you, saying,
    ‘Pay attention to the sound of the trumpet!’
But they said, ‘We will not pay attention.’

Jeremiah 6:16-17, ESV

I am a Big Tech’s dream consumer. I’m what is known as an early adopter. Whatever the latest and greatest is, I want to be among the first to have it. I’m relatively sure this is why Apple keeps changing its charging cables, so the early adopters can recognize each other smugly at airports and on subways, and so they can differentiate themselves from all the poor Neanderthals with last year’s phone.

The early adopters are easy to spot, by the way. They are the ones who can’t charge their phone because they forgot to bring the ONE CABLE that works.

Early adopters aren’t just interested in the latest and greatest tech, however. They prevalent in self-help and spiritual growth as well. Next time you are in a bookstore (if any actual bookstores still exist, because, you know, technology), walk down the self-help aisle. You are likely to see a dozen or more titles with similar themes. The current trend is books that give you advice on how to fix yourself, unstick yourself, and convince yourself that you can conquer the world. They all have dirty words in the title. They make me miss the days when everyone was talking about paleo diets. I’m looking forward to when this fad gets replaced by whatever the next new and shiny thing will be.

The Christian living section is no different. There are seasons where every book is about the end times. Others that are dominated by books about near-death experiences and firsthand testimonies about how heaven is for real. Apologetics trended for awhile recently, replacing the prayer of Jabez, which replaced WWJD.

I know I sound cynical, and I don’t mean to say there is nothing good about any of these trends in Christian living. But sometimes it seems like we are a lot like the Athenian philosophers Luke described in Acts 17:

21 Now all the Athenians and the foreigners residing there spent their time on nothing else but telling or hearing something new.

Acts 17:21

Jeremiah’s message to the people in Jerusalem was to walk the “ancient” paths and not run after fads and trends. “Ancient” often has negative connotations in our world today. It can mean out of touch. Irrelevant. Outdated. Obsolete. Old-fashioned. “Ok Boomer-ish.”

But the word Jeremiah uses for ancient is olam. It doesn’t just mean “old.” The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament defines it as “having long duration, antiquity, futurity, for ever, ever, everlasting, evermore, perpetual, old.” A quick word search of “ancient” on Blue Letter Bible reveals that the word almost always described something of lasting, permanent value:

  • Psa 24:9 – Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 
  • Pro 22:28 – Do not move the ancient landmark that your fathers have set.
  • Isa 46:10 – declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’
  • Isa 61:4 – They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.
  • Dan 7:9 – “As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool;
    his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire.
  • Mic 5:2 – But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.

Beloved, there may be truth in the trendy, but what is trendy isn’t always true. Truth doesn’t always have a catchy font or a bright yellow cover or a photoshopped picture of the author with impossibly perfect teeth. God delivers His truth to us with no marketing plan, no accessories, no background music, no graphics.

God still calls us to walk the ancient paths. There’s goodness and wisdom there. There’s rest for your souls there. Not everyone takes that path. Not everyone listens to the sound of the trumpet. But those that do find life and peace and immortality. Those that do learn a timeless truth:

There’s no school like old school.

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