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  • Writer's pictureWayne Shelton

The Ancient Paths

Jeremiah 6:16

In his first inaugural address, Pres. Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) admitted that the USA had lost its way. “We don’t know where we are going,” he said, “but we are on our way.”

Roosevelt was right. We didn’t know where we were going. At least, that is the conclusion Harvard scholar Oscar Handlin reached in a remarkable 1996 article called, “The Unmarked Way”:

“At some point, midway into the 20th century, Europeans and Americans discovered that they had lost all sense of direction. Formerly, familiar markers along the way had guided their personal and social lives from birth to maturity to death. Now, disoriented, they no longer trusted the guideposts and groped in bewilderment toward an unimagined destination. Wandering in the dark, men and women in all western societies, stumbling blindly along, strained unavailingly for glimpses of recognizable landmarks.”

Jeremiah could have said the same about his times. People had lost all sense of direction. They were disoriented. They groped in bewilderment and wandered in the dark. They needed a landmark, so Jeremiah gave them one: Jeremiah 6:16:

“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.’

This is a verse for people who have come to the crossroads and do not know which way to turn. In the Old Testament we find the children of Israel at the crossroads on numerous occasions. Today, Western civilization finds itself at the crossroads, and time is running out. We have been running down the road to destruction, but the way of life still stretches out before those who go down the road of life.

The evangelical church now stands at the crossroads. Will we glorify God in our worship, or will we entertain ourselves? Will we bear witness to the law of God and the grace of the Gospel, or will we tone down our message so as not to offend anyone? Will we expound the eternal Word of God, or will we seek some new revelation? Will we defend the doctrine of justification by faith alone, or will we add works to grace? These are the questions a church faces when it stands at the crossroads.

Perhaps you are at a personal crossroads. Some Christians wonder what God wants them to do with their lives. Others contemplate a change of career, or the pursuit of a new educational opportunity, or the possibility of marriage, or a change of ministry within the church. Still others wrestle with deep spiritual questions, wondering who Jesus Christ is or about the veracity of the Bible.

The thing to do at such times is to recognize that you are standing at the crossroads. Two roads stretch before you. You can go in only one of two directions. Either you can keep going the way you have been going, or you can go down a different road altogether. Your destiny depends upon which road you take.

Once you’ve recognized that you are at a crossroads, the second thing you need to do is to ask for directions. When a nation, a church or an individual comes to a crossroads, it helps to have good road signs, good directions, or a good map. Jeremiah tells what kind of directions to get: “Ask for the ancient paths,” he says. “Ask where the good way is.”

This Lord’s Day – New Year’s Day – we will look at Jeremiah’s prophecy to God’s people about ‘the ancient paths.’ Join us as we learn of ‘the ancient paths,’ and why these paths are the good way.

We are almost ready for our particularization service in which we ordain our officers, are formally recognized as a particular church, and install our pastor. This service will be Sunday January 8 at 4:00 pm at the civic center. This would be a wonderful service to invite your family and friends to be come along with you as we seek God’s presence among his people.

In Christ’s Service,

Pastor Wayne


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