The Old Pathsby Dr. Dan Stolebarger
I hope you take the time to slow down a bit and come to this Well of Living Water and find refreshment for your weary soul!
Thus says the Lord: “Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls.”
— Jeremiah 6:16
As you know we live in a “microwave culture,” where we not only want what we desire immediately, but we also want all new stuff! The supersonic speed of modern technology, along with its lightning-quick updates and new versions, adds to the speed-of-light mind-set of our generation! When we stumble across a passage that talks about the old paths, a place to stop and reflect and then walk in it, we have a difficult time comprehending this message. We not only want to hear new teachings from God; we want Him to respond to our wants, needs and desires IMMEDIATELY, post haste!
But let me tell you something about the Ancient of Days…He does not give us all new things, but He does make all things new! (Take a moment and let this sink in or maybe, in thinking of our speed-of-light conversation, you might need to take an hour or so to let this sink in!)
He makes all things new! He is a God who restores, renews, rehabilitates, and redeems! So, where can we find this type of teaching, the kind that can calm our inner turmoil and yes, the kind that can bring rest to a weary, out-of-breath soul? We need to look at the Old Paths, some things that are tried and true! This quest led me to four old hallmark teachings that stand the test of time!
The first is a blessing from God Almighty! That’s right, a blessing that is so important to Him that He tells Moses to give these exact words to Aaron to pray over His people! In other words, He does not want Aaron to just “wing it.” Here are those words that are found in the book of Numbers.
And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them: “The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.” ’ “So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.”
— Numbers 6:22–26
From here we unpack this blessing, taking our time to dig deep in order to understand what God has in mind when He speaks of: blessing, keeping, making His face to shine upon us, what graciousness means, as well as the Lord lifting up His countenance and what His Shalom is all about! We end this study with the matter of having His Name put upon us!
The next teaching from the Old Paths comes in the form of a challenge or exhortation. This word from God, according to Yeshua, is the “greatest commandment!” Today this teaching is known by the first word—SHEMA. That word means to HEAR! We then take some time to marinate in what it means to love God with all one’s heart, soul, mind and strength! Since Jesus said it was the greatest of all commandments, it would do us well to attempt to “touch bottom” pertaining to its instruction to the individual Believer.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
— Deuteronomy 6:4–5
Next there is a call to true repentance and the key to our coming revival. This teaching covers words given to Solomon in 2 Chronicles 7. It’s as if God knew that as His people we would drift from time to time and would need a compass to get us back on track … we would need to find our true North!
And so we take the time to break this passage into bite-size pieces. As we devour the Text we are praying that this will be much more than just an intellectual exercise! We want to “walk in His ways!”
If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
— 2 Chronicles 7:14
In conclusion, we turn to the model prayer that Jesus gave to us via His disciples. I find it interesting that of all the things the disciples saw and experienced, the ONE thing they asked for further instruction from Yeshua was in the area of PRAYER!
No one asked about walking on water, or feeding multitudes with just one little boy’s lunch; no, they simply asked Jesus to teach them how to pray! If prayer was so important to the disciples back then, how much more so for us today? Here’s the answer Jesus gives (note it is only 64 words long!)
In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
— Matthew 6:9–13
These are the teachings that comprise the Old Paths! I hope you take the time to slow down a bit and come to this Well of Living Water and find refreshment for your weary soul! My prayer is that these teachings give you a second wind that will provide you what you need to begin to sprint that final leg which leads us to the finish line of life, where we fall into His hands and hear those words we all long to hear:
Well done, good and faithful servant—enter into the joy of the Lord!
— Matthew 25:21
You know I find it interesting what Jesus said about His Yoke, which in those days referred to a Rabbi’s teachings! Note what He says, keeping in mind our need for rest while we are living in this speed-of-light society.
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
— Matthew 11:28–30