For my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water.
To the best of my recollection, this verse was my earliest glimpse of the tremendous word pictures painted by the prophets of the Old Testament. Reading it afresh this week I again saw the artistry of God’s word from the mouths and pens of those ancient men.
Jeremiah was given the task of preaching to a people who had abandoned God. His message was a message of a coming judgment. What was it in the lives of people chosen by God that would necessitate such judgment? And does that message still resonate with us?
This weeping prophet identified two evils for which the people were guilty. The first count of the indictment was that they had forsaken God. The second count was that they had made replacements for this God who had been forsaken.
To make the indictments vivid in their minds, Jeremiah likened forsaking God to forsaking the fountain of living waters. That is the image provided for God. He is the source of water that sustains us, nourishes us and quenches our thirst. Why would we ever abandon that fountain?
Yet we do. We have been provided access to this wonderful fountain, yet we turn from it in our thirst.
To make matters worse, we make with our own hands alternatives to this fountain. We hew out cisterns – holes in the ground. We wait for the water to gather so that we can drink that which is stagnant rather than sipping from the fountain that produces the purest water. And since it has been made by our hands, it doesn’t even work. Our cisterns are broken. They hold no water.
So we thirst. Jesus told the woman at the well that if she realized who he was, she would ask of him for the living water that can satisfy.
Are you busy building your own broken cisterns which serve as substitutes for the living God? Instead, why not drink from the fountain that actually quenches your thirst.