“Thus says the LORD,
‘Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths,
Where the good way is, and walk in it;
And you will find rest for your souls’” (Jeremiah 6:16).
“At that time Jesus said, ‘I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and [as it is written in Jeremiah 6:16] you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light’” (Matthew 11:25-30).
So, are the prophet and Lord in conflict over where rest is to be found for our souls? Is it looking back to the “ancient paths,” or looking to “the Son” alone?
When we read the entirety of Matthew 11, I think we find that there is no conflict between Jeremiah and Jesus. Earlier in the chapter, John the Baptist sent his disciples to inquire as to whether or not Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah. Jesus highlights Himself by pointing to the “ancient paths.”
“Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Go and report to John what you hear and see: [as is says in Isaiah 35:4-6; 42:6,7; 61:1-3] the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the Gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me’” (11:4-6).
After this compilation of Isaiah quotes (that point to Jesus Himself), Jesus then goes back to the “ancient paths” to describe His forerunner, John the Baptist: “This is the one about whom it is written [in Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 3:1], ‘Behold, I send My messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before You’” (11:10).
And then He continues: “For all the prophets and the Law [the Old Testament!] prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah [foretold in Malachi 4:5] who was to come” (11:13,14).
Jesus doesn’t just look to the “ancient paths” for promises of His own coming, but utilizes the examples of the past to show God’s righteous judgment and the greater stakes in His visitation: “Then He began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent. ‘Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you,
! For if the miracles had occurred
in Bethsaida Tyre and which occurred in you, they would have
repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Nevertheless I say to you, it will be
more tolerable for Sidon Tyre and in the day of judgment than for you.
And you, Sidon ,
will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the
miracles had occurred in Capernaum
which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say
to you that it will be more tolerable for the Sodom
in the day of judgment, than for you’” (11:20-24). land of Sodom
There is no conflict between Jeremiah and Jesus. The “ancient paths” to which Jeremiah points lead us to Jesus, in Whom alone we “find rest for your souls.”
The response of Jeremiah’s generation was, “we will not walk in it” (6:16). And they were judged (as was Jesus’ generation).
What is your response? A day is coming...and we have proof in what has come before. Turn to Jesus alone for your soul's rest and salvation.