Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.” Jeremiah 6:16.
What are these “old paths” for which Jeremiah told us to ask? Some doubters might quibble that the Israelites never reached the condition that God wanted them to attain. They might further argue that these “old paths” contained some pretty bad history. We could think of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram; Zimri; Miriam and Aaron’s jealousy; and the golden calf—to name just a few of the problems.
Are these errors and departure from truth the “old paths” for which the Lord is telling us to ask? No, the text itself explains for what we are to look. “Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein.” The qualifier is “the good way.”
The old path of truth must be walked on again. On this path lies the only way to victory for the church of God. Today we are calling to Christians across the land and around the world to return to the old paths of truth that God has committed to Seventh-day Adventists—the path that James and Ellen White walked on, and J. N. Andrews, Benjamin Wilkinson, F. C. Gilbert, Julius Gilbert White, Edward Sutherland, and a host of others. The old historic pathway is the truth as expressed in the Law of God. It contains the truth of the Three Angels’ Messages, the heavenly sanctuary, the Sabbath, the state of the dead, the Spirit of Prophecy, and the investigative judgment. Those who are walking on the “old paths” are teaching the old truths. This is why we are “Historic” Seventh-day Adventists. The pioneers did not reach the end of the path. They did not receive the latter rain—but they were on the right pathway.
Yes, as a people, there have been some bad experiences in our history. There was Canright, Conradi, the 1888 Conference at Minneapolis, and Desmond Ford, to name just a few. Is that the history we are talking about when we say “Historic” Seventh-day Adventists? Hardly! Jeremiah 6:16 gives us the context, “Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein.”
We will never attain to the full condition that God would have us reach or receive the latter rain and give the loud cry of warning to a perishing world until we first return to walking on the “old paths.”
One of the conditions that God has set before us as a people is to be of one heart and one mind. But my heart feels sad to think of the lack of unity among the independent ministries. Why is it this way when we are trying to walk on the “old paths?” My mind turned to the greatness and power of our kind heavenly Father. It gives me peace to remember that our Almighty God has everything in control. Each truly Historic Seventh-day Adventist minister and worker giving the Three Angels’ Messages must go forward with greater power under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and with godly counsel. God will help and support each one of His workers. He is even working out His plans right now in the midst of shaking and turmoil. We must stay close to Him.
We must not let anything stop us from giving the third angel’s message. We will be held accountable for the message of truth that God has given us to give to the world. Fellow travelers on the bloodstained pathway do not give up because of the lack of unity. Pray in earnest, as if your life depended on it, that you can help the cause of God to triumph. We often do not understand what God is accomplishing. We do not see things as He does. He is leading a people on a path cast up high above the world. It is the “old path,” the historic path of truth. But, friends, we must climb to higher ground and go farther on the path than any group of people have ever gone before. We may make mistakes as we climb, but God never makes mistakes. We may slip and fall, but the truth will triumph. At Steps to Life, we are in earnest prayer that the Lord will show us just what course to pursue as we seek to work in every way we can with those who are giving the Three Angels’ Messages. “There is not a single instance in which God has hidden His face from the supplication of His people. When every other resource failed, He was a present help in every emergency.” This Day With God, 194.
“Brethren and sisters, look up; you who are tried, tempted, and discouraged, look up. Let no weary, halting, sin-oppressed soul become faint-hearted. The promises of God that come down along the lines to our times assure you that heaven can be reached if you will continue to climb. It is ever safe to look up; it is fatal to look down. If you look down, the earth reels and sways beneath you; nothing is sure. But heaven above you is calm and steady, and there is divine aid for every climber. The hand of the Infinite is reaching over the battlements of heaven to grasp yours in its strong embrace. The mighty Helper is nigh to bless, lift up, and encourage the most erring, the most sinful, if they will look to Him by faith. But the sinner must look up; he must see the glory of God above the shining ladder, and the angels ascending and descending with messages of mercy.” Review and Herald, February 17, 1885.
Sometimes the ground under our feet seems to be shaking to cause us to look up to heaven. But as the earth seems to be shaking, keep on giving the Three Angels’ Messages. Stay on the “old path.” The devil would like us to be so shaken up that we stop the work that God has given us to do. Remember that God is working out His purposes in the darkest of days. “We are prone to look to our fellow men for sympathy and uplifting, instead of looking to Jesus. In His mercy and faithfulness God often permits those in whom we place confidence to fail us, in order that we may learn the folly of trusting in man and making flesh our arm. Let us trust fully, humbly, unselfishly in God. He knows the sorrows that we feel to the depths of our being, but which we cannot express. When all things seem dark and unexplainable, remember the words of Christ, ‘What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.’ John 13:7.” The Ministry of Healing, 486, 487.
One of the great hindrances to our advancement along the path is the justification of self. The wise man said, “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts.” Proverbs 21:2. We become so confident that we are right that when others do not see things in the same way as we do, we are certain that they are wrong. It then becomes very natural, when they fail to support us, to view them as actively seeking our destruction—they must be “attacking” us. We then attribute to them pride, selfishness, pettiness, evil surmising, and various other negative motives. Eventually, we reason that since God has been leading us and we are therefore right (righteous), for anyone to attack us is tantamount to an attack upon God Himself, when the truth of the matter is that we are often merely seeking to justify our own position. “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes.” It is a fearful thing for individuals or organizations to unconsciously occupy the place of God in presuming to dictate to others what their responsibilities and duties are.
What are we to do when this happens? The apostle John once asked Jesus a question about a similar situation. “Master, we saw one casting out devils in Thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in My name, that can lightly speak evil of Me. For he that is not against us is on our part.” Mark 9:38–40. Even if others are not in agreement with us, it is not our place to fault them for doing the work that they believe they are called of the Lord to do. If we can humbly pray and wait upon the Lord to work things out, we may find that we are receiving the very education that the Lord designs for us to have. Let us not be too quick to say that those who are not working closely with our plans are evil or that they are arrayed against us.
In every controversy, precious souls are lost. While in humility and waiting upon the Lord to subdue our natures, we do not need to let disagreements turn into controversies. “The difficulties we have to encounter may be very much lessened by that meekness which hides itself in Christ. If we possess the humility of our Master, we shall rise above the slights, the rebuffs, the annoyances, to which we are daily exposed, and they will cease to cast a gloom over the spirit.” The Desire of Ages, 301. If we would only do this, Jesus would then become the Lord and Master of all.
There will yet be a people who will answer the prayer of Christ recorded by the apostle John, “That they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” John 17:21. We may have confidence that the Lord is working to purify a people who will fulfill this prayer, though at the present time we can only view the end result by the eye of faith. It will most assuredly happen because the Word of God is sure and steadfast.
“As trials thicken around us, both separation and unity will be seen in our ranks. Some who are now ready to take up weapons of warfare will in times of real peril make it manifest that they have not built upon the solid rock; they will yield to temptation. Those who have had great light and precious privileges, but have not improved them, will, under one pretext or another, go out from us. Not having received the love of the truth, they will be taken in the delusions of the enemy; they will give heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, and will depart from the faith. But, on the other hand, when the storm of persecution really breaks upon us, the true sheep will hear the true Shepherd’s voice. Self-denying efforts will be put forth to save the lost, and many who have strayed from the fold will come back to follow the great Shepherd. The people of God will draw together and present to the enemy a united front. In view of the common peril, strife for supremacy will cease; there will be no disputing as to who shall be accounted greatest. No one of the true believers will say: ‘I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas.’ [I Corinthians 1:12.] The testimony of one and all will be: ‘I cleave unto Christ; I rejoice in Him as my personal Saviour.’ ” Testimonies, vol. 6, 400, 401.
Gwen Reeves is a mother of five and lives in Kettle Falls, Washington. She can be contacted at: email@example.com.