Jeremiah 6:16 is a verse that holds a special place in my heart. Besides being the verse that serves as inspiration for the name of the bulletin I have been writing since 1994, it also stands as a final plea from God to His people and a pattern for all preaching that God wants done. This passage states succinctly: “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.’”
When we read Jeremiah 6:16, we read about four appeals that Jeremiah made. First, he appealed to the authority of God when he said, “Thus saith the Lord.” What Jeremiah said did not come from the mind of man. This is not what Jeremiah thought would be a good idea. This is what the Lord said to do! Remember, God had told Jeremiah in chapter one that He would put His words in Jeremiah’s mouth, and this is but one example of God doing it. Jeremiah’s appeal was to God’s authority.
Second, we see an appeal to investigation. Calling on these people to “stand … and see” means God wanted them to investigate and understand. The term “see” in this text is used in the way we use it when we ask people, “Do you see what I am saying?” The word “see” here does not mean what is accepted by the light reflected into your eyeballs! “See” in this verse means to perceive or understand. God’s word is written in such a way that it can be understood (Eph. 3:4, 5:17). Therefore, let us “Stand … and see” what God wants.
Next is an appeal to obedience. God, through Jeremiah, told the people to ask for the old paths, so they could “walk therein.” This means they were going to be obedient to the things they had heard and understood. It makes no sense to appeal to people to investigate and ask for the truth if they would not, in turn, obey the truth that they discovered! God has always wanted His people to obey. Thus, they needed to “walk” in the old paths that they had found!
Finally, there is an appeal to what is to come in Jeremiah 6:16. He said, “Ye shall find rest for your souls.” Isn’t this the ultimate goal of man? We want to find that rest and comfort. Specifically, we find true rest with God (Heb. 4:9-11). God’s intention is not to have men waste time with “busy work” while on earth! Instead, the things men do are to lead him to that blessed rest. At the same time, there will be no rest for him if he refuses, but an eternity being separated from the God of Heaven (Matt. 25:31-46)!
The people responded by saying they would not do it! How tragic! Sadly, it had been a steady digression for these people for years. The generation who entered Canaan declaring that they would serve and worship God was no more (Josh. 24:18, 20, 22, 24). In their place was a group of people who, after years of sin, wicked rulers, wicked prophets, and the like, had declared openly and clearly that they would not do what God wanted! Indeed, they did this and didn’t “blush” (Jer. 6:15)!
The application to us should be clear (Rom. 15:4). When we hear the preaching of the gospel today, it needs to make these same appeals! Let everyone claiming to preach the gospel of Christ (Rom. 1:16) preach according to the authority of Christ (Col. 3:17; I Pet. 4:11). Let those preaching appeal to men to investigate (“stand … and see”) and appeal to obedience to the Lord (Heb. 5:9). In such preaching, let preachers also appeal to what is to come! As a result of our choices, we will either spend eternity with God in Heaven or eternity away from God in Hell! The choice is ours to make right now, but we better choose wisely! God’s word has been given to us, and it reveals that truth quite clearly.
Finally, it will be up to us. Friend, are you going to tell God, or tell God “no” as those rebellious people did in Jeremiah’s day? Or, will you make the wise decision and follow the Lord? Ultimately, you must weigh the evidence and make your own decision, but remember, you will live (and die) with the consequences of your choices! Choose wisely! “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.”
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
As we open the book of Esther, we read about Ahasuerus and the great party he threw (Est. 1:4-5). We also read about him choosing a new mate (Est. 2) and choosing a man to be his second-in-command (Est. 3:1). After this, we read little about the king. He was on the throne, doing the work of a leader, but where was he when the people needed him (Est. 3:15b)? He was satisfied to take a bribe from Haman and go about whatever work he deemed essential to the kingdom (Est. 3:9-11).
We know this because while the city was “perplexed” (3:15), and while Mordecai mourned at the gate (4:2), the king seemed to be so engrossed in other work that he saw none of this. In fact, Esther remarked to Mordecai how it had been a month, and even she had not seen her husband (Est. 4:11)! What was he doing that demanded he ignore his wife and the cries of the people for a month?
From the attitude shown by the king in Esther 5:2-3, his negligence was not because he was angry or had some grudge against Esther or the others. If I could conjecture, it seems he got so caught up in certain aspects of being a king that he ignored other parts that were just as important. Does this sound like a problem we have had in the past? Does this sound like a problem we are having right now?
In 21st century America, we have so many things vying for our time and attention that we cannot adequately deal with them all. Some of these are our own doing, while other things have been “thrust” on us. We need to learn to prioritize and put “first things first”! Sadly, this does not happen as it should.
When Jesus walked the earth, He told those who listened to His preaching to, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33). He rebuked the Pharisees who “pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith.” He said, “these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone” (Matt. 23:23). In other words, the Pharisees faced a similar problem to Ahasuerus. They focused on the areas they deemed necessary and ignored other things that were just as important. Friend, look into God’s mirror (Jas. 1:22-25). Is this you? What occupies your time? What do you deem important?
It took Esther entering the king’s presence unannounced to wake him up to what was going on in His kingdom. What is it going to take to wake you up to the spiritual reality around you? Paul said it is “high time to awake out of sleep” (Rom. 13:11). If those people in Rome needed this message, how much more do we need it?
Are you awake to spiritual realities around you (II Cor. 4:18)? Are you a Christian (Acts 11:26, 22:16)? If not, why are you putting it off (II Cor. 6:2)? What is occupying your time? How are you doing as a parent? Your children are growing every day! Are you bringing them up “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord,” or are you waiting until they get older (Eph. 6:4)? Have you taken the time to tell your children or to tell a close friend about Jesus yet (II Tim. 2:2; Mk. 16:15)? What is stopping you? What is more important than telling someone about the Lord?
Don’t become like Ahasuerus and turn a blind eye to what is going on around you, thinking that what you are doing is more important! You may be doing things you consider crucial in your life, but nothing is more important than making your life right with God and then teaching your children what God wants as well (Matt. 16:26; Eph. 6:4)!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
What Is The Sermon For?
“How did you like the sermon?” is a question often asked after a worship service. In fact, this is a habitual question that is often asked of visitors and members alike. The “likes” of individual listeners vary amazingly. It is fine to “like” the sermon, but is that really the important thing? Is this really the only standard of judgment after hearing a sermon?
Actually, sermons are preached, not to be liked, but to be lived! That is a fact. Take time and look into the Scriptures and read the sermons of Jesus, or the apostles, or of Old Testament prophets. Their sermons were preached so those listening (and us reading) would know how to live.
Let’s suppose that on a given Sunday you do not like the sermon preached. What of it? Suppose that the hypocrite sitting there in services went away in a rage. The fact is that when the arrow of truth pierces the heart, curses often come out! John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter, and John were not anxious that their sermons should be liked. They wanted the folks to live them!
The crucial question is not, “Did you like it?”, but “Did it help you?” “Did it give you new encouragement to obey God?” “Did it show you how to draw nearer to the Lord?” I encourage you to read the sermons preached in the book of Acts and see the response of the people. The concern was not whether folks “liked” it, but would these people lived what they had learned!
The sermon may be measured, not by the pleasure of the people, but by their response in action and practice.
Lies The Devil Tells
Satan has many lies that he tells people (Jn. 8:44). We have studied several of these lies in earlier articles. One very common lie justifies sin by saying, “It is acceptable/legal in society.”
This popular lie allows society to determine what is correct or incorrect. Of course, we see many things that society accepts that are unacceptable with God. For instance, homosexuality is accepted in society, though the Bible says it is a sin (Rom. 1:26-27; I Cor. 1:9-11). Society allows a man and woman to divorce for any cause, even though the Bible does not allow this (Matt. 5:32, 19:9). Fornication is portrayed in society as acceptable and “loving”, but God says that sexual relations are only acceptable in the marriage relationship (Heb. 13:4). Society also accepts such things as gambling (or lotteries), drinking alcohol, smoking, immodest dress, etc. We must never base our decision to do right or wrong simply because it is “legal.”
Doesn’t it make sense that as society gets worse and worse, our laws will change, and things once illegal will become legal? However, God’s word will never change (Ps. 119:89)!!
The Bible makes it clear that we must do what is right regardless of what society accepts or legalizes! For example, “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil” (Ex. 23:2). Further, “Abstain from all appearance of evil” (I Thess. 5:22). Peter said, “abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (I Pet. 2:11). Jesus said that there are only two ways to live this life — the broad way or the strait and narrow way (Matt. 7:13-14). Let us obey Christ regardless of what society does or does not accept!