May 20, 2017: Verse of the day

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16–17 Judah’s pattern of disobedience is rehearsed again. Because the people have lost their bearings and forgotten their way, the Lord exhorts them to return to the foundations, to the ancient paths, to the sure foundations of their ancestors. (Compare the description of false deities in Dt 13:6; 28:64 as gods which “neither you nor your fathers have known,” and note the call in Pr 22:28 not to “move an ancient boundary stone set up by your forefathers.”) This is where they will find respite and rest for their souls (language apparently borrowed in Mt 11:28–30), but in keeping with their history they said, “We won’t go that way!” (Compare the response to Isaiah’s invitation in Isa 30:15: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.”)

So the Lord reached out to them once more (v. 17), warning them through watchmen (= prophets; cf. Eze 3:17–21; 33:1–9), who urged them to listen to the sound of the alarm, but they said, “We won’t listen!” (e.g., 18:12; note the call to the people to turn back and do right, followed by their negative response; on this, cf. already 2:25; note also God’s heart on all of this in 7:13b and par.).[1]


6:16 Here is the image of travelers who are lost, stopping to inquire about the right way they once knew before they wandered so far off it.[2]


6:16 the ancient paths. The way of faithfulness revealed to Moses and the earlier prophets. the good way. The proper life of faith-driven obedience. walk. A metaphor for patterned living (cf. Ps. 1:1). We will not walk describes strong rebellion against revealed truth.[3]


6:16 the ancient paths A metaphor for the proper way to worship Yahweh according to the laws of the Pentateuch. Compare Jer 18:15.

We will not walk The people’s refusal is direct and explicit; it is open rebellion against following Yahweh.[4]


6:16 ancient paths. This phrase describes the traditional religious life of the Israelites from the time of Moses; it is the task of priests and prophets to direct the people.[5]


6:16 Jeremiah admonishes the people to remember the old traditions of faith and obedience. By returning to those ancient paths and walking in them they could find rest. They defiantly refuse![6]


6:16, 17 Old paths probably refers to the Sinai covenant and the Book of Deuteronomy, as Jeremiah called the people back to former days of steadfast devotion. The people obstinately refused to walk rightly and find rest. They also refused to listen to the alarming sound of the trumpet, denying that any danger existed.[7]


[1] Brown, M. L. (2010). Jeremiah. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Jeremiah–Ezekiel (Revised Edition) (Vol. 7, p. 153). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Je 6:16). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1385). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Je 6:16). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[5] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 1270). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

[6] Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Je 6:16). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[7] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 889). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

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