A HEALTH AND SAFETY AUDIT
Lord, keep me on the old path and never permit me to veer.
Read JEREMIAH 6:16–20
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.’
18 Therefore hear, you nations;
you who are witnesses,
observe what will happen to them.
19 Hear, you earth:
I am bringing disaster on this people,
the fruit of their schemes,
because they have not listened to my words
and have rejected my law.
20 What do I care about incense from Sheba
or sweet calamus from a distant land?
Your burnt offerings are not acceptable;
your sacrifices do not please me.”
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
If God recommends the old paths for us, why are we so prone to seek out alternative ones?
Verse 16 provides another reminder that Jeremiah knows that the door of opportunity for Judah to enter the future that God wants for them is still open just a crack. Through the door is the right path, the “good way.” It is interesting to think of a walk providing “rest for your souls.” Walking by “still waters” and “green pastures” sounds restful to me, fitting with my experience of walking over recent days past spring flowers, down the canal path and past lovely blossoms in the park. It certainly made me more ready to face the day’s demands. Why would anyone turn that opportunity down? One can almost feel the sadness in Jeremiah’s voice and in God’s heart, as he records their response: “We will not walk” that way.
There is nothing wrong with having good resources for our worship centers, but sometimes we need the reminder of verse 20 that God does not really care whether the décor is just right; whether we have the most up-to-date electronic equipment; whether we hold up one arm, two arms, or none; whether we keep our eyes open or shut when we pray; whether we sit down, stand up, or kneel; or any of the other things that sometimes seem so important to us. He simply wants us to go through the open door and walk down the good path, his path. Micah tells us that God is not interested in massive sacrifices, but God wants us “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly” with him (Mic. 6:8). Fasting of all kinds can help, but Isaiah reminds us that the kind of fasting God likes best involves loosing “the chains of injustice” and setting “the oppressed free” (Isa. 58:6).
This week try giving yourself a spiritual “health and safety” check, asking whether each day’s walk is indeed down the good way, providing rest for your soul.
Lord, may my sacrifices always be acceptable to You. Point out to me when they are done for off-color motives.
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.