The path which America has chosen is so much like that chosen by the Jews just before their cities were leveled and they were taken captive into Babylon. The imagery chosen by Jeremiah to describe why all this happened is so vivid. He described the path they had taken by comparing it to a traveler who decides which road he will take.
“My people have forgotten Me, they have burned incense to worthless idols. And they have caused themselves to stumble in their ways, from the ancient paths, to walk in pathways and not on a highway” (Jer. 18:15). They were like an individual who purposefully left the paved road which could so easily be traveled and instead found themselves walking on the rough, unprepared paths. They had left the “interstate” and found themselves going down “oxcart roads.”
When confronted by the messengers of God, the Jews said, “That is hopeless! So we will walk according to our own plans, and we will every one obey the dictates of his evil heart” (Jer. 18:12). They had no desire to follow the clearly marked highway of God and devised their own way. Jeremiah described the folly by comparing it to a thirsty man who forsook the cool refreshing waters which flowed from the snow-covered mountains into the valleys of Israel and instead drank from stagnant pools of water. Jeremiah asked, “Who has heard such things?…Will the cold flowing waters be forsaken for strange waters?” (Jer. 18:13-14). How foolish can one become? Yet, this is precisely what happened in Israel and is happening in our own day!
Do not overlook the fact that God described His highway as “the ancient paths.” Earlier in this book, Jeremiah spoke of this path. “Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; they you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it’” (Jer. 6:16). Instead of listening to the directions of God, given in His roadmap, they had cast that map aside and gone in their own way.
We have that highway given to us by God. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6), yet we have chosen to forsake that way and wander aimlessly in paths which lead to nowhere. O how we need to heed His words! In the Sermon on the Mount, He spoke of two gates and two paths—one which most travel and which leads to death and the other which leads to life (Matt. 7:13-14). How long will we forsake the Way, the only one which leads to the Father and, like the Jews, stubbornly say, “We will walk according to our own plans”?