Walk in the ancient ways

I greet everyone in the wonderful name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I thank the Lord for this opportunity which He still grants us to serve and worship Him. We trust that the Lord will remember us. We long for conferences again. Even in the Bible there were also times when people were restricted in the way in which we are today.

In my introductory remarks recently, I referred to white lies but I should have also mentioned the following: if people armed with guns are searching for someone in order to kill that person, (and you can see that they intend to kill the person) and they ask you where that person is, it would not be wrong for you to protect person’s whereabouts. This does not mean that you are lying.

I was at a homestead in KwaZulu. Some people arrived with the intention to kill me. I locked myself up in a room. A certain lady who was there, was asked where so-and-so was and she gave a wise reply to protect me. If you are asked as a child, where your father or mother is because people intend to kill them, and you protect them, that is not wrong. We need wisdom. Some school children were asked by people with murderous intentions where their principal was, and the school children told the killers. The principal was then killed.

A person can inquire about someone who is on their deathbed. The response of ‘he is unwell’ is sufficient. It is not always appropriate to respond in detail about the sick person’s condition. In the Zulu language the response, ‘he has the flu’ is sufficient. This is an old Zulu euphemism, when someone is not well.

We read of heroes of the faith and prophets in the Bible from the Old to the New testaments, even in the sermons of Jesus. It is amazing how these prophets of old received their messages directly from God. Do not take it lightly when a person brings God’s word because God has revealed to that person what he must say. A person who brought the oracles of God was known as a prophet.

Messages such as: 18 “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. Isaiah 1:18

This word brings hope and it is a promise to the heathen and the unconverted, for the one who has murdered and committed abortion, if they turn to God, there is forgiveness and hope, no matter how evil their sins were.

“Seek the Lord while he may be found;  call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way,  and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,  and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. Isaiah 55:6,7

Do you hear what messages these men of God received from God? When I read the Bible - the prophets, the Psalms, the book of Proverbs – there is so much I gain. The Bible is so rich. There is so much that you can receive from God’s word and through which you can grow in the grace of God.

Our focus today is on the prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah received heavenly mysteries from God, but the time came when he was thrown into a cistern. Someone told the king that he was there and that he would die there. The king said that he should be removed so he was. Jeremiah spoke about man’s heart which he said was evil and desperately wicked - who could understand it? Today, it is the same. People take a man of God and discard him, thinking they have finished him off, because they cannot stand men of God who speak the truth - just like what happened to Jeremiah. John the Baptist was beheaded because he spoke the truth. Evil Herodias, who hated John, told her daughter to ask for the head of John the Baptist on a tray. John was beheaded in this way. That is an utterly disgraceful thing.

Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 1:4 – 8

For those who preach the gospel, listen to verse 9: Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. Jeremiah 1:9 It is amazing that when God places His words in our mouths, it is then that there is something which God will do in the lives of men.

When Jeremiah was still in the womb, God sanctified him and touched him with His own hand. He could speak these mysteries to all men because God said that he should not fear. Do not be surprised, brethren, when we preach the gospel fearlessly. If we bring a message from God, we are doing it as His messengers who have been sent by God.

This word is a teaching. There are 6 points which I trust will help you in your spiritual walk. Listen to the word of the Lord Jehovah.

16 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.’ Jeremiah 6:16

In Zulu there is a saying: you should ask the way from those who have gone ahead. Today I am wearing a jacket. I learnt from my father that when you go to a service, you wear a jacket to show respect. On a Sunday you wear a jacket. That was a good example. I learned a good lesson from him. This text says that we should ask for the ancient paths, we should look to those who have gone ahead and learn from them. There are some people with whom we were together in the past, but now they are doing things differently. For example, there are older men who approach young men, who are merely boys, and ask them when they are planning to get married. They ask young girls the same question. The boys become confused because this type of subject has never been handled like this before at the mission. They do this at weddings or funerals. Young people understand this, if anybody approaches you and speaks this kind of language, realise that the person has fallen away from the faith. It is God who will lay it on the heart of the young man when he should marry.

No one should approach a young man and tell him to start praying about which girl he should marry – that is an evil teaching. This is not a revival teaching. Our leader has never taught this. It is God who initiates it and shows the young man whom he should marry.

Originally, I thought I would only marry at 40 years of age perhaps, but then I got married at an earlier age. God led it in that way. When my first wife passed away, I did not even consider marrying again. Then the Lord showed me to whom I should get married and I was shocked because she was such a young person. I could not understand it. Although there are many girls, this one was laid on my heart. Somebody even said to me, “Don’t you think you should look elsewhere?” My response was that there was nobody else. I even said that if she would say no to my request and say that it was not from God, I would be relieved, but then she said that she felt it was the will of God. We must make sure we are on the right way and not next to it.

Today there are older people who do not want to be advised. They think that they are adult enough to make their own decisions because they are married and have children, so they think who can tell them anything. I love our leader. He respects and honours everyone, irrespective of their age. If someone comes with something they have received from the Lord, even if that person is a child, he will accept it. This is why this work has been so blessed and has grown so much. He does not look down on anyone or despise anyone. With one ear he listens to the person and with the other ear to God, to discern His will. A dog can pick up the scent of a wild animal which humans cannot do and in a similar way if we walk spiritually then God will be able to reveal to us the ancient paths, the ways of old, the ways of God.

When I instruct my son or my daughter, how do I do it? There are some people who attend funerals, weddings, or functions with sleeveless tops. The husbands fail to correct and instruct their wives. They fail to tell them not to dress as young girls. Fathers fail to instruct their sons not to wear such tight-fitting pants. They are like Eli, the high priest. Did our fathers dress in tight-fitting pants? Look at your father, your grandfather.

The text says you will …find rest for your souls. If you part from those wrong ways you will find rest for your soul. If you do not know the way, ask. If you do not know what to do, ask. I love those people who come and ask.

According to the Zulu custom, if you speak to a person and honour them, you will lower yourself. That person will stand, and you will sit. It is not a bad thing to follow this custom. One day I made a mistake. Two men were sitting in a room and I found a chair and sat down. I heard them speaking and they said, “Look at him, he just takes a seat.” I did not realise that according to their custom, it was wrong. I thought that if you see a chair, you sit down, which I thought was respectful. I did not realise that you had to wait to be offered a seat. The men are no longer alive, but I learnt this custom from them, that you should wait to be offered a seat. We have learnt various people’s customs. According to the Zulu custom, tea is served –whether the person wants it or not because if a person is asked whether he would like a cup of tea, it means that the host begrudges giving it. Although others do things differently, we accept their customs too.

16 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.’ Jeremiah 6:16

28 Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

There are burdens you cannot remove yourself. When a person carries a load, he is bent over. If you want to remove a burden, you must bow and lower yourself. You cannot help yourself if you have a burden and that is why the Lord at times asked others – two or three people - to come and help that person. If a person wants to remove a load of 80kg by himself, he will only hurt himself. He will ask others to help him to remove that burden. The women understand this very well because they carry things on their heads. Men carry things on their shoulders. Women who carry a load on their heads will ask someone else to assist them to remove it. Their necks are very strong, but when they want to get rid of the burden, they will ask somebody to assist.

It is the same with the cross. You cannot walk upright - you will bend over. A person is a true leader of the faith because they walk so humbly. They are bowed down under the cross. You can see that humility in them.

Remember that we are saved daily. If people approach you and say, “Look here, you did not do that in the right way.” Your immediate response ought to be, “I am sorry.” Through your humility you are saved. Do not say, “Well, I received forgiveness so many years ago…” but since then you have made no progress. You have never come to the point where you humble yourself, make right and purify yourself as God’s word says – And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. 1 John 3:3

The Bible opposes you who say that I will confess my sins in the privacy of my bedroom. The Bible says 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. James 5:16

So brethren, if we no longer walk according to the ancient ways, where are we heading? A husband, the man of the home, can go to his wife in the right way and apologise. He can apologise to his children. The child can go to their parents and say, “I am sorry about this, I did not do it the right way. I did not do the right thing.” You are then walking on the ancient paths, the right way.

Some are depressed and oppressed because they do not bring to light the things that trouble them. Some cannot even sleep properly at night because of grudges and hatred. They hold things against others because they were not greeted properly.

Young person, you may be a believer, but pride and arrogance has crept into your life and it is visible even in the way you walk and your posture. A peacock rules in your heart and life. That pride often goes together with lust. If you allow lust in your life, pride will be there.

Stubbornness and lies rule the lives of some people. They deny something even though it is clear from the guilty look on their faces that they have taken that money, they still lie.

A certain chief came to the gate and asked to enter. Due to the lockdown situation he could not enter. One day, he still wanted to enter even though the service was over. Then he phoned me and said that the security men at the gate did not allow him to enter through the gate. I asked him to pass the phone to the security guard so that I could speak to them. I said, “Please allow the Nkosi to come in.” The chief did not want to tell them that he is an iNkosi. This a sign of humility. He did not boast that he was an iNkosi and insist that he should be allowed to enter. You might be so proud about your position and never truly humble.

Years ago, Reverend Stegen was showing visitors around. A person asked him who the director of the mission was and Rev Stegen answered without committing himself. When the visitor saw him preaching, they were surprised to realise that the man who had been showing them around was the director of the mission. It is amazing when someone has that kind of humility.

You will not win people over if you still think you are somebody when in actual fact you are nothing. Beware of people who very easily tell others about their position.

Where is the way? How should we live? This word tells us: ask where the good way is. If you have had a bad dream, tell your parent so that they can understand who you are and in what condition you are, so that they can help you. If you do not feel free to go to your parent, then go to your leader, your minister, your counsellor, someone who can help you, and share your experience with them.

I have sat down with young men and they asked me questions like: how did you go about things and how did you do it when you were young? I spent time and explained to them how we were taught by the Lord.

But there are those who are looking for a short cut. When they take those short cuts, it does not take long before things do not go well with them.

So, the ancient paths are what we did and still do. When we dreamed about something, we shared it so that it could be tested - whether it was from God or not and in so doing a person could find out whether it was his gift or not. If your child shares that with you, ask them when last they saw their counsellor and brought things to the light. Keep tabs on your child, know where they are - otherwise, they will go lost. If we live according to this word in Jeremiah 6:16, then this revival will continue - whether we are there or not.

I remember when we would sing about the blood of the Lamb and the One who was crucified while sitting on the back of the pickup, on our way to take a service, sometimes in the rain. We did not mind the discomfort because a fire was burning within and His blood was shed for our sin on Golgotha. Through the blood of the Lamb, you will be redeemed. If you have not been saved, you can be saved right now.

Through the Holy Spirit who leads us into all the truth, we find the word of God in our mouths and on our lips. Spiritual growth should be evident. If a child is stunted in its growth that is terrible. Likewise, if you do not grow spiritually, it is a terrible thing. When you confess your sin, it should be obvious that you have victory over that sin. The blood of the Lord Jesus was shed for that very reason, that our sin may be forgiven. What kind of a blood is it that if when you are washed with it, you return to your sin again and again?

Conclusion Dietmar Joosten
This word was a real blessing for it reminded me of our fathers who sought the ancient paths. They stood at the crossroads and sought and God revealed Himself. God showed them the way of purity. For them it was also a new thing. Now we are told, ask of them which way we should go? It is dangerous if you say, I know. You may know, but you know very little, you have no experience. You were brought here by God and yet you still think you know, you still continue in your ways. It was a way of purity, cleanliness and holiness. Remember when you heard this message, how it affected and changed your life. The Lord says, now walk in it.

Are you still walking the road that you were taught? Recently there was something I had to think about. Sometimes we must have a haircut. And we must have a good haircut. When I went to the barber, all the men were busy and a lady would ask to cut my hair. Friends, I cannot allow that a woman should touch my hair. Men you know your own heart and your feelings. You love it perhaps, that that is why you do it. Friends, we were taught to be pure, but you allow somebody else who is not your wife or your husband to touch you, you know what happens in your heart. Rev Stegen taught us the ancient ways – do not allow a girl or a boy to touch you. You know what is awakened in your body. Possibly you have fallen so low that when your back or neck is sore, you decide that you need a massage. You allow someone foreign to massage you without your wife being there or you never tell her. You do not ask the ancient ways. You do not ask your fathers. You decide. Wife, you know your husband and you just leave him. It is no wonder you are where you are. Friends, maybe I am talking Greek, forgive me. How is it going with you? Are you still walking with joy and gladness?

17 I set watchmen over you, saying, Pay attention to the sound of the trumpet!’ But they said, ‘We will not pay attention.’ Jeremiah 6:17

We have often heard the preacher saying, “Do not look at pornography on your cell phone or computer.” The ancient ways we were taught had to be walked in holiness and cleanliness. You look at those filthy, dirty, evil things which are full of a demonic spirit. Google and YouTube are regarded as so good, but they are the source of this evil and nobody says anything. Why have they not been closed? Instead they will criticise you for criticising them and close your account. Friends, when you see these things, what happens? Does it stay in your eyes? No, it goes to your hands and to your body. Be honest.

The Bible says, walk this narrow way. It is a difficult way, but it is the best way. The Bible says it makes your burdens light. It is easy. How can you tell others to walk this way of holiness, but you are busy with unholy things?

Ask God on which way you must walk? It is a wonderful thing to ask. When you are at the crossroads, ask for advice, do not make a mistake. You may once have been on this way but because of uncleanliness and because you allowed others to touch you, where are you today? Now you teach them the broad way. If you defile yourself with your fingers, it is not wrong. This is not the way God has taught us. If that is your way, keep to your ways and do not attack the ways that you knew were right. Paul said to Timothy, flee youthful lusts. (2 Timothy 2:22) He did not say the way to escape is step 1, 2, 3. He said flee – get away.

Closing prayer Michael Ngubane
We thank God for His word. It is not a mistake that God spoke to us as He did. God sees what the human eye does not. We see the outward appearance - the garments, the clothing, but God sees what is in the depths of the heart.

There are so many ways nowadays, but they all lead downward. People love those ways which do not lead them up to Christ.

God’s word says that There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. Proverbs 14:12. Many are on the way which looks so right but the end thereof is death. There are some who do not want to be told, they do not want to receive or ask for advice. They feel they know what the right thing is to do. But the truth is, we will find the right way by learning from those who have gone before and who have found the right way.

You may be offended because the evils of cell phones and pornography are always mentioned, but Rev Stegen has often said that if you stop with your evil and sin, he will stop preaching about it. If people are still caught up in the ways that lead to death, we would be guilty before God if we did not tell them and ask for the ancient paths and walk in the good way. There are those who are older and more experienced who have gone through these different stages of life and we can learn from them and find out how they overcame in situations.

Some say we know, we know better. They are stubborn. Like those in this text who say we will not go in that way. In which group do you find yourself? Are you in that stubborn group that does not want to be told and reprimanded? If you are wise, you will go to those whom you can see are truly living for God and ask them the way. Examine yourself, with whom do you keep company? Who are your friends? There is a saying, ‘Tell me who your friends are, and I will tell you who you are’. What draws you to a person or to those people? Are they truly alive and healthy spiritually? Are they drawing you to a higher spiritual level?  Seek the company of those who live for God. If we want to live for God, our will and our way must come to an end. We need to die to it and live according to God’s will.

We ought to ask of those who have gone ahead and hear what the right way is if we want to go to heaven. If we do not, great will be our condemnation. We are privileged, to grow up in revival where God spoke to old and young and taught us His ways. If we reject that, how great will our condemnation be?

Let us ask of the older people and by God’s grace they will guide us. It is wonderful to seek and find God’s will and God’s way in everything we do. Through that we will receive a blessing. If not, woe to us.