Old Paths for a New Year

How about Something Old?

Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. Jeremiah 6:16

Are you thinking about starting something new this year? Maybe you’d like to curb your spending habits with a new budget or improve your health by adopting a new exercise program. Would a new hobby add zest to your routine or a new job make work more enjoyable?

I’ve actually decided to return to some old things this year. I’m going to re-read some books I devoured long ago–Jane Austen’s novels and Mary Stewart’s Arthurian Saga. And since I’ve just completed Warren Wiersbe’s Fifty People Every Christian Should Know, I’ll also be reading some Christian classics for the first time—Samuel Chadwick’s The Path of Prayer and A. W. Tozer’s The Pursuit of God.

Sometimes new isn’t better. I prefer old jeans and old movies. I like the nostalgia of old family recipes for Christmas dinner. And I haven’t yet found a treasure more valuable than an old friend.

The prophet Jeremiah also valued “old” over “new.” He told the people of Judah that they needed to forsake the pagan practices they’d adopted and return to the “ancient ways” of their forefathers. They didn’t need a new direction; they needed to return to the fork in their faith road, and take the well-traveled path that godly leaders like Moses, Joshua, and Samuel had cleared.

The Hebrew word, derek, translated “crossroads” and “way” in Jeremiah 6:16, refers to a lifestyle that is approved by God, the well-worn life path that benefited those who followed it. Moses told the Israelites, “Do what is right and good in the LORD’s sight, so that it may go well with you” (Deuteronomy 6:18). Joshua said, “Fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness” (Joshua 24:14). Samuel quoted Joshua and added, “Consider what great things [God] has done for you” (1 Samuel 12:24).

Do we really need to embrace something “new”? Or, like the people of Jeremiah’s time, will we be much better off if we return to something “old”? More than 2500 years ago God said, “Obey me . . . walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you” (Jeremiah 7:23). That’s an old path that will lead us to new blessings if we follow it.


Read Deuteronomy 6:1-25. Moses delivered that message to the Israelites 3500 years ago. Why is it still a relevant message for us?

Read Psalm 77. What are the benefits of thinking about “former days” and remembering God’s “miracles of long ago”?

Read Samuel’s words in 1 Samuel 12:20-25. What was his greatest concern for the Israelites? What did he promise to do on their behalf?

Interested in reading some old books in the new year? Here are a few timeless ones to consider: Not Knowing Where by Oswald Chambers; Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan; Edges of His Ways by Amy Carmichael and The Greatest Thing in the World and Other Addresses by Henry Drummond.

Denise K. Loock

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