Old Paths

Our text for today:

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].

Jeremiah 6:16

Old Paths

Our text centers on the old paths. Before we focus on those, let’s consider the other elements of this scripture.

You can’t see where you’re going from just anywhere. That’s why God asks you to stand and consider your ways.

Stand in the Ways

Our text asks God’s people to “stand in the ways.” What does this mean? A look at the underlying word for “the ways,” tells us that the word can mean:

Way, road, distance, journey, manner:

  1. road, way, path
  2. journey
  3. direction
  4. manner, habit, way
  5. of course of life (fig.)
  6. of moral character (fig.)
Outline of Biblical Usage

I want to highlight to you the fact that “the ways” speak of more than a road or path. The Bible speaks more of a conceptual way that it does a physical way.

God tells you to stand where you are in terms of physical and moral position. Stand where you are with your manners and habits. Stay right where your course of life has brought you.

Like the people of Jerusalem, you may find yourself in a dangerous place. That’s fine for this moment. Pay attention to where you are. Take inventory of your behavior. Check up on your values, assess your character.

Stand in the ways.

You assess yourself in multiple ways. You also have different ways for moving forward.

God wants His people to move forward in a good way. Still, He gives us all the opportunity to choose.

Stand in the ways. Regardless of your position on your journey, you can choose which way you go.


God wants you to see reality. Look inward. Look outward. See where you are. Acknowledge your path of life.

Also, God wants you to see the possibilities. You can continue on a course that leads to destruction, but you can choose a path that leads to life, happieness, and prosperity.

Look around you: You have a choice!


You have to ask for the path you want. Ask yourself, sure, but you also must ask God.

Do you want to continue on a destructive path? Ask God to leave you alone. He will:

Even as they did not like to retain God in [their] knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

Romans 1:28

God wants you to ask for a good path. He wants better things for you. He won’t force it upon you, but if you ask, you will receive.

Whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

Matthew 21:22

You can have a better life, if you ask for it.

The old paths


By “old,” God refers to the paths of antiquity. He refers to the paths established by the law and the prophets. The paths that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob led are spoken of by him. He refers to the path that leads out of Egypt. God speaks of the path that leads to the Promised Land.

By “old,” God shows the establishment of the paths. They are everlasting. God’s ways will not change. If you ask for them, you can follow them.

Here’s the problem. For a long time, the people have ignored the “old” paths. Those ways have become hidden.

Gesenius adds to this definition of “old” by saying that it refers to:

The beginning or end of that which is either uncertain or else undefined.

Gesenisus’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon

The old paths come with uncertainty. You can barely see them, but they exist.


A bridge in South Carolina, known as the Poinsett Bridge helps to illustrate the “old paths.”

The Poinsett Bridge

Dating to the early 1800s, it is the oldest remaining bridge in the Palmetto State and might be the oldest in the entire southeastern US….

It was a key part of the historic South Carolina State Road that connected Charleston to Asheville, passing through Columbia and Greenville.


Despite the importance of the path that lead across the bridge, you can only now see it as a tourist. The bridge seems overgrown, but If you look hard enough, you can still see the outline in the ground where the highway went.

Now, people travel on a new path, altogether ignoring the old one, just as the people of Jerusalem did in Jeremiah’s time.


God’s people have beaten the old paths. Through the ages, people have tried and tested them, discovering their merits. These paths lead to God. These paths lead home.

What path do you choose?

God wants you to ask for the old paths. Will you choose them, or will you choose the new paths?

Following the old paths may come with responsibility. Old paths may seem narrow. They have brush that you must clear. They have bridges you must rebuild.

They that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.

Isaiah 58:12

The new paths are easier, but they don’t lead to a place where you really want to be.

Jesus says:

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide [is] the gate, and broad [is] the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:

Matthew 7:13


Ask God for the old paths. He will lead you. According to our text, you “shall find rest for your soul” Don’t be like the people of Jeremiah’s time who rejected the old paths saying, “We will not walk [therein].”

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