The Old Paths


By Dr. Ken Matto


Jeremiah 6:16 (KJV) Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.


In the midst of God's uncompromising indictment against Judah, He is impressing upon them that they are to seek the old paths, the old ways. The old ways here is when the children of Israel had come out of the land of Egypt and received the law. God is calling them back to obedience to the law, which made them a strong nation. Israel saw the many battles which God won for them, and God is telling them to reflect on these things, because if they turn from their wicked ways, they will experience the strength of God on their behalf when God routed and dealt with the enemies of Israel. (Mal 4:4 KJV) Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Of course, we read that Judah did not pay any attention to the warnings God gave them, which resulted in their captivity. They forgot the law of God, which resulted in them falling prey to the false religions which surrounded them. (Jer 7:18 KJV) The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger. This was the religion of Astarte, which later on became Diana of the Ephesians. It is identified in  many world religions under the category of the "Cult of the Virgin."  In modern times we know it as Roman Catholicism.

Is there a message here for us? How many times do we see ourselves going in the wrong direction, not necessarily sinning intentionally against God, but just adopting a wrong teaching or practice? God is encouraging us to go back to the Scriptures. The Scriptures contain, among many things, guidelines for living. This is why God wants us to come back to the Scriptures, so they may redirect our steps. God called Israel back to the old paths, but they did not listen. Sometimes we tie ourselves to religion, or to teachings which may place more burdens on us than is required in Scripture. God does not want His Children living under the bondage of religion. Judah got to the point they were sacrificing their own children. Actually, God did them a favor by sending them into captivity, because it stopped the sacrificial killing of children. Today, we can call child sacrifice "abortion." This is because we in the USA have walked away from the Word of God and spurned its teachings. So we degenerated into a society that murders its unborn but if we ordered our life according to the Scriptures, we would see that life is a precious gift. When the planes hit the towers on 9/11 and three thousand people died, the world cried but who cries for the fifty four million murders committed in this country? So we have much in common with the nations of Israel and Judah. We both started with the Word of God and left them, and have deteriorated to murdering our own children. The term, "Valley of Slaughter" is apropos for today's abortuaries. (Jer 7:32 KJV) Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be called Tophet, nor the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of slaughter: for they shall bury in Tophet, till there be no place. Let us seek the old paths, before we become as those who have none!


Our society has become numbed to reality and that includes the church.  There is more outcry over an abused dog or cat than there is over the murder of babies in the womb.  This is what happens when we depart from the old paths, the world makes us hard and very apathetic to things which really matter.  We begin to walk in the wilderness of the world and it seems that our Christian walk has become non-existent.  What used to interest us does not seem to interest us now.  Remember when we loved to hear about missions or to hear a visiting preacher?  Now all we care about is sticking headphones in our ears and shutting out the cries of the unsaved world as they slip into a Christless eternity.  Remember when souls were your priority and you couldn’t wait to get out on the street and hand out tracts?  Now you go home from work and hunker down in front of the computer and remain there until it is time to go to bed.


The apathy which is running rampant through Christianity is absolutely horrifying.  Christians don’t care about what kind of bible they read, they don’t care about what type of unholy alliances they make, they don’t care about their commitment to the Great Commission, they don’t care about who they send money to (if they send any at all), they don’t care about what theology they follow, etc.  If the Apostle Paul or Peter came back today, they would not recognize Christianity as it was in the first century.  What happened to cause us to stray so far from the truth?  The main culprit is the organized church which chose to keep up with ways of the world, only adding a religious dimension to worldly modernism and it failed!  What they did was to abandon the old paths and attempt to forge ahead with new paths.  They became willing victims of their own failures with a continued refusal to seek and abide by the old paths.


In the modern churches, they always want to try something “new” to reach the youth and yet the youth are abandoning the churches in droves.  They fail to realize that the soul of a youth is the same as the soul of an adult, it is ageless.  The modern church does not take the admonition of Scripture to seek the Old Paths.  When I was growing up our church services were much more subdued and reverential.  Today the average church service is nothing more than a soccer game.  There is no reverence for the church and none for God either.  Whenever something is written twice in Scripture it means that God is emphasizing a point which we need to heed.  In two passages in the Old Testament, God commands the people of Israel to reverence His sanctuary. 


Leviticus 19:30 (KJV)   Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.


Leviticus 26:2 (KJV)   Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.


The basic meaning of “reverence” in these two passages is to be afraid or to revere.  John Calvin has a great comment on these verses:


“The expression, "fear the sanctuary," is a figurative one; but is equivalent to this, that they should shew by their very reverence of the sanctuary how truly and sincerely they fear God, who had promised that He would be present there, whenever He should be invoked.”


Whenever we attend church, we should be in a sense in awe of God and His greatness and it is He who we should be focused on, not some praise band at 100 decibels or some worship leader or a pastor who dresses like he slept in his clothes all night.  There is always an exchange principle at work, and that is, when there is no reverence for God in His sanctuary, then it is exchanged for the irreverence of a modern crowd, most of whom try to outdo the ones sitting next to them.


When Jacob’s life was getting disheveled God gave him good advice in the following verses of Scripture:


Genesis 35:1-3 (KJV)   And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Beth-el, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother.  {2} Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments:  {3} And let us arise, and go up to Beth-el; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went.


God had spoken to Jacob and told him that he should go back to Beth-el (means house of God) and that he was to make an altar unto God.  Then before Jacob and his family begins the trek to Beth-el, he tells his family that they are to put away the strange gods and by doing that they will cleanse themselves of any false religion which they may have clung too.  He also tells them to change their garments which means that they may have dressed according to some false religion and now they were too shed those garments and be clean by doing away with the strange or false gods.  The time frame here is about 25 years from the time Jacob made the altar unto God when he about to face Esau for the first time after he cheated him.


There is an important principle in these verses.  Jacob told them to put away any strange gods that are among them.  As we grow older in our Christian walk, we tend to pick up beliefs and even some false beliefs that are not in line with Scripture.  We may also tend to start dressing like those who bring in false movements into the church such as those in the emergent church or purpose driven church.  Their people dress like slobs including the leaders.  The principle that God is giving here is that sometimes during our Christian walk we may have lost proper perspective and it is necessary to go back to the beginning of our Christian walk and hit the reset button.  Then we can find out where we went astray and remove those things from our Christian walk and once again walk in obedience.  We would be seeking the Old Paths whereby we can once again regain the spiritual strength for our walk.  If we keep pursuing the modern style of Christianity, we will continue to go astray to the point that we will lose all interest in spiritual things, where God will have no choice but to place us on a shelf where we will be of no use to Christianity or to the world in terms of reaching it for Christ. 


This is why we seek the Old Paths because they bring us back to our starting point or another designated point in our Christian walk and we can then assess and get back on the right path.  Modern Christianity has become so infiltrated with strange beliefs that when one compares it to Scripture, it is basically unrecognizable.  The New Paths will lead us astray while the Old Paths will keep us on the straight and narrow.  Now is the time to seek those Old Paths to see if you have been derailed in any way.  If you feel you have lost any power in your ministry then you probably have been derailed by the New Paths.  If you have not grown in your spiritual walk, then no doubt you have been derailed by the New Paths.  With false religions on the rise and false teachings on the rise, it is necessary that we seek the Old Paths to make sure that none of those satanic philosophies have attached themselves to our beliefs.