Not too long ago we had a Pastor’s Conference based on Jeremiah 6:16 and they called it the “Old Paths.” We have a rich history of men and women who have gone before us and followed the Lord faithfully. Today there’s a temptation in the church to capitulate to culture, and the way of the world has found a home in the hearts of many of God’s people…just as we’re reading in the book of Jeremiah.
So God says:
Jeremiah 6:16 (NKJV) “Thus says the LORD: ‘Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls.’ But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
Not only did the Jews say we will not walk in it, they also said “We will not listen” to God’s watchmen (Jeremiah 6:17). So God brought calamity on this people . Their mere religion was useless (Jeremiah 6:20). Again, Jeremiah reveals the fact that the Babylonians (a great nation from the farthest parts of the earth) would be raised up by God and invade Judah and Jerusalem from the north.
It didn’t have to happen…but God’s people wouldn’t walk with Him, they wouldn’t listen to Him they brought the pain and anguish, the mourning and bitter lamentation upon themselves. We need to remember that our Father does discipline His children, or those who claim to be (Hebrews 12:3-11). May it bring about a healthy fear in all of our lives.
Over the years I’ve witnessed up-close and personal, people supposedly serving God, involved in ministry, even on staff, but living in sexual sin, living complete lies, one even left his wife and children for another woman. Some have truly repented others haven’t. I don’t understand how a person could live like that, but I do know it happens all the time, and if we let our guards down, it could happen to any one of us.
Jeremiah was being used by God, in the midst of all this madness.
Jeremiah 6:27 (NLT) “Jeremiah, I have made you a tester of metals, that you may determine the quality of my people.”
Bible Knowledge Commentary, “As Jeremiah observed the nation, he concluded they were all hardened rebels. God tried to refine them through judgment, but the refining efforts were useless. The wicked had not been purged out in the refining process so the nation was like rejected silver. God’s attempts to reform the nation had failed, so judgment was inevitable.”
In Jeremiah 7 God commanded the prophet to stand at the entrance of the Temple and speak to the people as they entered to “amend” their ways and their doings, to “thoroughly amend” their ways and their doings. If they did, God would not judge them, He would allow them to stay and enjoy the land. Can you visualize Jeremiah standing at the entrance of the church with that message from God today?
But the people would not listen. They trusted liars who claimed to be called by God and they trusted in their religion and their temple. They believed the lies of the false prophets who gave them a green light and license to sin…who encouraged them to abuse grace (Romans 6:1).
Jeremiah 7:9–10 (NLT) “Do you really think you can steal, murder, commit adultery, lie, and burn incense to Baal and all those other new gods of yours, 10 and then come here and stand before me in my Temple and chant, ‘We are safe!’—only to go right back to all those evils again?”
Jeremiah pointed out the fact that God had judged their previous “religious” city of Shiloh where He had set His name (Jeremiah 7:12). If He’d done it before, He’d do it again, if need be!
Why won’t we learn from the past mistakes and tragedies of others?
Bible Knowledge Commentary, “The Bible is silent on the fate of Shiloh; but after the Philistines captured the ark of the covenant (1 Samuel 4:10–11) the priests evidently fled to Nob (1 Samuel 22:11) and Shiloh was abandoned as Israel’s central worship center (cf. Psalms 78:56–61). Archeological studies also indicate that the village of Shiloh was destroyed about 1050 B.C., probably by the Philistines.”
The people had completely crossed the line, so God commands Jeremiah not to pray for them.
Jeremiah 7:16 (NKJV) “Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them, nor make intercession to Me; for I will not hear you.”
The time had come for the people to be put into the hands of the enemy and learn what life is like with him, maybe then they would return to God (1 Corinthians 5:5). John writes something similar:
1 John 5:16 (NKJV) “If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that.”
The Jews made it a family affair to worship the “Queen of Heaven,” which is most likely a reference to Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess of love and fertility. When I read that title I think of those within the Catholic Church who worship Mary, some of them actually calling her the Queen of Heaven. Here in the book of Jeremiah such beliefs and behavior is clearly condemned as idolatry and perversity worthy of God’s judgment.
God has made this clear and simple:
Jeremiah 7:23–24 (NKJV) “But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you.’ 24 Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward.”
When I consider the nations of Israel and Judah in that day, I think of the United States of America today (apart from the remnant):
Jeremiah 7:28 (NKJV) “So you shall say to them, ‘This is a nation that does not obey the voice of the LORD their God nor receive correction. Truth has perished and has been cut off from their mouth.”
One the most horrendous sins of all is the sin of abortion, the modern day slaughter and holocaust of the innocent. Over 63 million babies have been aborted in our country since it was legalized in 1973. Jeremiah writes about the way God’s people offered up their children, their sons and daughters at the high places of Tophet, in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom. It is believe that the word “Tophet” comes to us from the words “cookstove,” or “oven” which is why Jeremiah tells us that they burned their children in the fire.
With such pagan and perverse practices…how can a holy righteous God NOT judge us? As I sigh and type, I know, judgment has already begun in the USA, but it’s only the beginning.
In Jeremiah 8 we see the judgment even worsen.
Expositor’s, “Even the remains of the long dead would be desecrated. The invaders would not be satisfied until the bones of the leaders as well as of the people of Jerusalem were exhumed. This would be the ultimate insult, signifying that the people of Judah were incapable of guarding the remains of their ancestors from desecration. This practice of violating the dead was not unknown in ancient warfare (cf. Amos 2:1). The dead, especially kings and prominent leaders, were buried with treasures, so the graves may have been vandalized also for plunder.”
It’s simply tragic..how God’s people refused to repent, refused to return, they could not discern, or hear, or fear the judgment of the Lord (Jeremiah 8:7). How about us?
How did you receive the Lord? By faith. As you have received the Lord so walk in Him.
Don’t get caught up in Legalism, Asceticism, Judaism, Hedonism, Gnosticism or anything other than Christ. Paul warns the Colossians to beware of worldly philosophy or traditions of men that would turn them away from the simplicity of Christ. Jesus is fully God, so Jesus is enough! (Colossians 2:9-10) Don’t let anyone ever “cheat you.”
You’ll notice that this chapter mentions our position in Christ, repeatedly. In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3). In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9). We have placed our faith in Him therefore we are found complete in Him (Colossians 2:10). We are to therefore walk in Him (Colossians 2:6) and be built up in Him (Colossians 2:7). In Him we were circumcised (Colossians 2:11) (the flesh has been cut away); in Him we were baptized (Colossians 2:12) (the old man has died, the new man has risen).
Jesus has forgiven us and set us free from the hand-writing of requirements – He nailed it to the cross and at that same cross He defeated and disarmed all demons.
I like what Sandy Adams said, “The Old Testament regulations were given to point us to Jesus. Now that they have accomplished their purpose, they only get in the way when we try to obey them. The cross of Christ not only ended slavery to sin, but slavery to the law.”
When you know these truths of God’s Word and apply them to you life, it won’t “get to you” when others judge you on matters of ceremonial law or matters that are trivial or insignificant. You won’t allow others to move you from Jesus or cheat you of your reward. Apparently, some of these Colossians were worshipping angels (Colossians 2:18) why?
Friend, please know that Jesus is enough, hold tight to Him! Over the years I’ve actually seen people go backwards – back to Judaism; they start living according to various laws of the Old Testament; some have gone back to Catholicism, or back to legalism. For some reason we start to think that the more rules and regulations we obey, the better Christians we are, but that’s not true. Stick to the Word, enjoy your holy freedom, and cling only to Christ.
Colossians 2:23( NLT) “These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires.”
This Psalm is an exhortation to every Jewish generation NOT to forget all that God has done for them, especially in redeeming them out of Egypt and the way He sustained them in the wilderness – and yes…even in His discipline.
We have the word “children” five times in the first nine verses – a reminder to us, how we parents are responsible to tell our children, that they would tell their children, and so on and so forth…the way God has redeemed us.
Psalm 78:6–7 (NKJV) “That the generation to come might know them, the children who would be born, that they may arise and declare them to their children, 7 That they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments.”
By the time this Psalm was written, Israel had been divided and the Northern Kingdom (Ephraim) was already guilty of apostasy (Psalm 78:9-11). In spite of all that God had done, dividing the sea, leading the nation, providing water from the rocks, manna from heaven (angel’s food – Psalm 78:25), and even “all you can eat” meat in the wilderness – still they did not love Him.
Another Psalm touches on this tragedy:
Psalm 106:15 (NKJV) “And He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul.”
In reading this Israeli account it makes me check my heart. As I look back over my life, do I see the way God has miraculously taken care of me in the wilderness? Do I love Him the way I should?
Proverbs 24:26 (NKJV) “He who gives a right answer kisses the lips.”
Literally “The one who returns right words kisses the lips.”
This is an implied comparison for giving an honest answer. Honesty is like a kiss. The kiss would signify love, devotion, sincerity, and commitment in that culture – an outward expression of what is in the heart. It is an apt illustration of telling the truth.
The NLT puts it this way, “It is an honor to receive an honest reply.”
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.