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Broken Cisterns

In the days of the prophet Jeremiah, we find that Jeremiah had a difficult and challenging task before him. He was dealing with a people who were rebellious, disobedient to the Lord’s will. In Jeremiah 2, we find the indictment that the Lord brings against His people though this great prophet Jeremiah. An indictment that spoke to their foolish choice to forsake the Lord, as described as the fountain of living waters, for “broken cisterns”, that were useless and could hold no water. In reading Jeremiah 2:1-13, the Lord through Jeremiah is challenging the people to remember Him. In the very first three verses, the Lord brought to the people’s mind, reminiscing of a period of time in their history where the people’s ancestors “went after,” worshipped the Lord. Here, the people have forgotten the Lord, seeking after substitutes to fill their longing. Just because the grandparents of these people being addressed by the Lord through Jeremiah served the Lord, didn’t mean that they, the descendants would, and as noted, “they were not” obeying the Lord. It is the problem of humanism. Humanism is defined as “an outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine. Humanist beliefs stress the potential value and goodness of human beings, emphasize common human needs, and seek solely rational ways of solving human problems. This type of system of thought centers on humans and their values, capacities, and worth, emphasizing reason, scientific inquiry, and human fulfillment in the natural world and often rejects the importance of belief in God.”

This is a serious issue that exists in the days of the prophet Jeremiah and a serious issue even today. The issue of placing our hope, our trust in ourselves, our own power, our own abilities. The Lord said that “they have gone far from Me”… following after, “idols”, which are noted as futile pursuits, vain pursuits, pursuits that were worthless. It reminded me of what Paul said in Romans 1:21-23.

We have to be careful NOT to be like these people of Judah, who forgot their deliverance. We ourselves as Christians have been delivered from the bondage of sin (Romans 6:16-18).   How easy it is to get caught up with ourselves, in our achievements, only to become idolaters.

They were found even taking the blessings that God bountifully bestowed on them and turning such into an abomination. If that’s not enough, the Lord through Jeremiah continues with His indictment against the people by adding the fact that the priests, the rulers, or prophets even were NOT seeking the LORD, rather having also turned to idolatry. Those who were looked upon as having the word of God, trusted to impart the word of God, those who should HAVE KNOWN THE LORD, DID NOT KNOW THE LORD at all and even distorted the truth, going even to the false gods of Baal. We can look at this text and truly see the similarities that exist today. I thought of Paul’s exhortation to young Timothy (2 Timothy 4:3,4).

The Lord goes on to say in Jeremiah 2:9 that He will contend with them, that He will bring charges against them, and yea even their children’s children. What is stated that should bring some great perspective is for the people to consider that of all the nations that surrounded them, those nations were faithful to their gods, and yet they were nothing but idols.  The Lord through Jeremiah expressed how astonishing this is as noted in verse 11. They made an EXCHANGE! They exchanged the LIVING GOD for a useless, vain, futile, worthless IDOL!  “My people have changed their glory for that which does not profit.” Again, that very thought brings to my mind what Paul said in Romans 1:21-23.

And then in Jeremiah 2:12, the Lord says for the heavens to be astonished, at the appalling conduct of God’s people. Yet, the Lord contends with His people, attempting to get them to understand their plight if they don’t change their ways. The warnings are being given.

Let’s keep in mind that there’s applications here. So many who claim to be the Lord’s yet have exchanged Him and His truth for the world, compromising the word of God.  There will be the same result today as was then, changing for something that will not profit.

The Lord then provides some imagery in Jeremiah 2:13. Rather than the people going to the Lord, who provides an ABUNDANCE of FRESH, life sustaining water, they would choose cisterns that they would hewn out themselves, BROKEN CISTERNS at that, which would be USELESS to store water, and WORTHLESS to them to sustain their life. Now I would say that cisterns were useful in many parts of the middle east. Cisterns/underground reservoirs were dug to collect rain water. What is being presented here by the Lord is that the people were working so diligently to dig these cisterns, but all for naught. Because the cisterns were BROKEN!  Due to their rejection of the Lord, who is the FOUNTAIN OF LIVING WATERS, they were dying of thirst!

What we see here is the same of what we see today. The people then as people do now today, want what THEY want!  Notice it in verse 13 – “they… hewn themselves cisterns.” Did you notice it? IT WAS THEIRS! Their cistern, their water! The product of their own labor, which labor apart from God is WORTHLESS. Jesus would say, without Me, you can do nothing (cf. 1 Cor. 15:58).

Spiritually speaking, there are so many that are toiling away, digging cisterns all the while standing right next to a fountain of living waters! Theologian & Philosopher Augustine once said, “Sin comes when we take a perfectly natural desire or longing or ambition (thirst) and try desperately to fulfill it without God.”

It is quite astonishing to think of these people who were tremendously blessed by the Lord, to exchange Him out for something that was profitless, vain, worthless. A people who snubbed the fountain of living waters, to lap up the remnant of water from the broken cistern they had dug themselves. I am certain that we see the similarities in our society today. How wonderful that the Lord was still reaching out for them as I think about what the Lord through the prophet Isaiah said in Isaiah 59:1,2. They had a choice to turn to the FOUNTAIN OF LIVING WATERS. Even as the invitation given from Isaiah 55, for everyone that thirsts, come, without money and without price.  Notice what Jesus said in John 4:13,14; 7:37-38.

For the people that is being addressed by the Lord through Jeremiah, they would have to stop digging, turn away from their cisterns that were broken and useless, and go to the fountain of living waters.  That is still the call today (cf. Revelation 22:17).

If you have surveyed your life only to find that you are thirsty, and have found through your own ways, still lacking, a broken cistern, then want you come to the fountain of living waters, for by such you shall be filled. If I can help you with doing that, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

Something to think about. Have a great week! – DJ 🙂

About Author

DJ Dickerson

Evangelist | La Porte Church of Christ

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