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Chapter 6:16-21 (ESV)

Posted on July 09, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 6:16-21 (ESV) - Thus says the LORD:
“Stand by the roads, and look,
    and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way is; and walk in it,
    and find rest for your souls.
But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
I set watchmen over you, saying,
    ‘Pay attention to the sound of the trumpet!’
But they said, ‘We will not pay attention.’
Therefore hear, O nations,
    and know, O congregation, what will happen to them.
Hear, O earth; behold, I am bringing disaster upon this people,
    the fruit of their devices,
because they have not paid attention to my words;
    and as for my law, they have rejected it.
What use to me is frankincense that comes from Sheba,
    or sweet cane from a distant land?
Your burnt offerings are not acceptable,
    nor your sacrifices pleasing to me.
Therefore thus says the LORD:
‘Behold, I will lay before this people
    stumbling blocks against which they shall stumble;
fathers and sons together,
    neighbor and friend shall perish.’”

Question to consider: What are some of the phrases from today’s passage that were used in reference to Christ?

The LORD told Judah through Jeremiah to take the good way to find rest for their souls. At first reading, we might think the LORD was pointing them back to following the Law since the Law is definitely God’s good way. However, the Law does not provide rest for our souls. Christ proclaimed directly to His disciples, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) He also said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Christ did the works of the Law so that we could find rest from them in Him alone. Does this mean that the LORD’s imperative to “look and ask for the ancient paths” was a cryptic way of saying they should pray for Him to send the Messiah? It’s possible considering that God gave a promise to Abraham that a righteous seed would come from him to bless all nations. However, for those at that time, I would guess that the LORD was at least calling them to repent of their sin and turn to Him to supply all of their needs. They ignored God’s repeated warnings and rejected His commands. Instead of offering incense from the promised land, they shipped it in from Sheba. The burnt offerings and sacrifices were not acceptable before God because they did not bring them in faith and tried to meet their needs from among the nations.

Just as Christ was in Himself the way and rest for their souls, so He would also become a stumbling block to the Jews. He became sin and was nailed to a tree so that we could become His righteousness. The Jews understood that anyone who was hung on a tree was cursed by God and thus stumbled over the fact that their Messiah was crucified. However, the curse He bore was our own.

You may doubt that today’s passage was in any way connected with the Messiah, but I do want to point out that Jesus never wasted words. He used these exact phrases concerning Himself with people who would have been very familiar with the prophets so that they would recognize that He was their fulfillment.


Dear heavenly Father, thank You for giving a word to Jeremiah which would describe the work of Christ more than six hundred years before He came into the world. Please open our eyes to see all of the promises that You have fulfilled in Him so that we may confidently cling to His righteousness for our salvation. Amen.