Did you know that Jesus was not just talking to his followers the day he gave his famous speech about rest? He was quoting the prophet Jeremiah:
16 This is what the Lord says:“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.
But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
17 I appointed watchmen over you and said,
‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’
But you said, ‘We will not listen.’ (Jeremiah 6:16-17)
We will not walk in it…We will not listen. Ouch. That hits a little too close to home.
We seem to always want to come up with a new way of doing things. Surely the ancient way is not going to work. It is slow and clunky. With all of our innovation and technology there has to be another way, a more efficient way. Especially when it comes to getting things done. The ancient way was walking, the ancient way involved rest. What’s interesting about this word from the Jeremiah is rest is actually a reward for walking the ancient path and listening. We tend to see rest as some sort of punishment. We say we want it, but do we really? Just try turning off your phone for a day, ok start with a few hours…an hour? See what kind of resistance you get from yourself when you try to unplug. If we are completely honest with ourselves we are scared to rest. How did we get here? How did we get from the ancient path where rest was a reward to the modern path that screams to us, “Don’t ever rest!”
Thankfully we have prophets of old who still tell us of the ancient path. We have those who have gone before us, who have walked in it, who have listened. Adam Clarke says this in his commentary on Jeremiah :
“The soul needs rest; it can only find this by walking in the good way. The good way is that which has been trodden by the saints from the beginning: it is the old way, the way of faith and holiness. Believe, Love, Obey; be holy, and be happy. This is the way; let us inquire for it, and walk in it. But these people said, ‘We will not walk in it’ Then they took another way, walked over the precipice, and fell into the bottomless pit; where, instead of rest, they find: – a fiery deluge, fed with ever-burning sulfur, unconsumed.”
Will we? Will we take the ancient path, walking and listening? If we dare, the promise is we too will find rest for our souls.