“Thus says the LORD,
‘Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths,
Where the good way is, and walk in it;
And you will find rest for your souls….'” -Jer. 6.16
Some time ago, I was in a gathering where a remarkably anointed man was speaking on the reality of fasting and prayer. He issued a trumpet call for the Church to forsake the arm of the flesh and return to the place of communion and intercession before God. It was a real call from heaven, and the message was glorious throughout, but I will never forget one statement he made.
Speaking of modern trends in the Body of Christ, he made reference to the so-called “emergent” movements, along with other expressions of Christianity such as the super Mega-Church, or other program-centered ministries. He noted that all too often the heart of these different movements and expressions is put this way: “Out with the old, in with the new!” In other words: “Church as we’ve known it is boring and irrelevant. We need a new program, or a new paradigm altogether. We need to attract a new generation with something more than traditional Christianity.”
In reply to these modern trends, many believers, being set in their own styles and modes of Church experience have cried out: “No! Out with all this new stuff, in with the old!” In other words, “In with what we’ve been accustomed to. In with what our parents sang and prayed and preached. Out with the prospect of change and variety. We want what we’re used to. In with the old!”
Responding to these two categories of thought, this preacher declared what I believe to be the word of the Lord in this hour:
“Out with the old! Out with the new! In with the ancient.“
There will always be a trend toward the neglect of the ancient paths of God. Until the day of His return, men will always grope for something temporal and gratifying to the self-life; they will always prefer the flashy and entertaining lights of this world system to the grit and rawness of true faith and priestly communion.
The powers of darkness will do whatever it takes to distract us from the simple realities of character and faith that made the patriarchs and prophets of Israel what they were. The remarkable thing is that the people of God, by and large, have more than enough knowledge as to what they should do with their lives. We are simply unaccustomed or unwilling to step into the risk of faith and the requirement of obedience. Hear C.F. Keil on this passage:
The Lord has not left any lack of instruction and warning. He has marked out for them [Israel] the way of salvation in the history of the ancient times. It is to this reference is made when they, in ignorance of the way to walk in, are called to ask after the everlasting paths. This thought is clothed thus: they are to step forth upon the ways, to place themselves where several ways diverge from one another, and inquire as to the everlasting paths, so as to discover which is the right way, and then on this they are to walk.
…. the everlasting ways are the right ones, from which through idolatry the people have wandered into unbeaten paths. Thus the paths of the old time are here the ways in which Israel’s godly ancestors have trod; meaning substantially, the patriarch’s manner of thinking and acting.
…. ask after the paths of the old time, so as thus to recognize the right way, and then, when ye have found it, walk therein.
(Keil & Delitzsch: Commentary on the Old Testament; Hendrickson Publishers, Inc. Peabody, MA; pp. 89-90, emphasis mine)
So, as J.A. Thompson has written:
Israel had reached a point in its spiritual history when it did not need a new revelation from God so much as the will to respond to the revelation already given.
(The Book of Jeremiah; Eerdman’s Publishing inc., pp. 260-1)
Is this not the case with many modern believers? Knowing, at least conceptually, the simple and ancient paths of obedience, but being unwilling to “respond to the revelation already given?”
I read a statement from a man who leads a congregation that numbers in the tens of thousands. They meet in a former sports arena, and their ‘sanctuary’ is replete with state of the art technology, coffee shops, and food court. While being interviewed on Larry King Live, he made this statement:
Other churches have not kept up, and they lose people by not changing with the times.
So all that’s required for the increase of numbers in our congregations is that we change with the times; find out what appeals to people, and adapt to it.
In this particular congregation, there is no message of repentance, no call to the cross, no consciousness of the judgment to come, no confrontation of sin and hence, no real message of mercy. They’ve tens of thousands of people who are looking for happiness and prosperity, but there is no vision of the God of the prophets! What can be said for that, dear saints?
God forbid that the Church would ever be reduced to a collection of religionists, however large or small, that are moved and jerked and formed on the basis of “changing with the times.” If anything ought to be stable, authentic, and unchanging, it is the reality of a people who have learned to walk in the ancient paths with “the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation nor shadow of turning.” I’m not talking about speaking in thee’s and thou’s or putting forth some external image on whatever level you may expect. I’m talking about a people who have come into the same heart-consecration and faith that makes up the reality of the Church in all generations. Have we come into that glory, dear saints? What good are our titled coffee cups, web-sites and T-shirts if we haven’t come into the abiding life of Christ, the Spirit of the fear of the Lord, and the joy of His counsel?
Could our chasing after the wind of new trends be related to the great chasm we feel from receiving too much Light that we are not rightly responding to?
The ancient paths are the inward passages of communion, faith, and obedience that the patriarchs and prophets have taken. They are the roads that the apostles and reformers have trod. The Ancient of Days Himself calls us to the place of communion, worship, and priestly intercession, the courses of authentic love and holiness. Have we cleared our lives of the clutter enough to to lay our hearts flat out before Him? Have we any days of fasting and prayer? Have we given ourselves to the ministry of the interior, where Christ becomes our chief awareness, and our greatest joy is to behold Him, to adore Him, to wait before Him?
What would happen in the earth if the Church forsook her cultural and religious attachments, ceased looking for new programs and emergent ideas, and gave herself without reservation to the place of worship, prayer, Scripture meditation, and fasting? What would happen if the only ministries that were carried out had first been birthed, and were carried on from that place of priestliness? I am convinced that Israel would be moved to jealousy, a harvest would be reaped in the nations, the powers of darkness would be threatened once again, and in life or death, we would “find rest for our souls.”
The new paths are a downward spiral of hollow novelty.
The old paths are often laced with lethargy, prejudice, or a staunch religiosity.
The ancient paths are a wilderness, but they have always been the paths of God’s servants, and the springs that are found therein are bursting with the waters of eternal life.
Out with the old. Out with the new. In with the Ancient.
“Lift up your heads, O you gates;
Be lifted up, you ancient doors,
That the King of Glory may come in….”