I promise you, the next few days in Jeremiah are not just going to be repetitions of the same message over and over: “You’re a sinner, God is really angry at what you’re doing, and he’s about to punish you!” This is why, when Jeremiah comes up in my reading plan, I try to take it in bite-size chunks instead of trying to read it all in one sitting. But Paul told us that all Scripture is “God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” So every word, every thought, and every line, has a message for us.
The book of Jeremiah is full of God’s accusations against his people. He'd done nothing towards them except treat them with grace, mercy, faithfulness, and love. In return he'd gotten—for the most part—nothing but disrespect and faithlessness.
But this is more than just an accusation like you hear in court. This is a Person whose heart is broken and whose love is wounded. Can you see it in today’s passage? Once again I want to draw your attention to one portion, specifically the last sentence: “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” A cistern was an underground water storage device, a hole dug into the ground which was lined with plaster to keep the water from leaking out.
The Lord is saying that they've committed two sins, but really they’re linked to each other. You can’t have one without the other. First, they forsook the God who'd done everything for them. He calls himself “the spring of living water,” a source of running water, as opposed to stagnant water which would be nasty at best and life-threatening at worst. He’s the spring of living water. There is no other. And just like physical water brings us life and is necessary for it, he’s the Life-Giver, the Source.
In sharp contrast we see the cisterns which people built for themselves. They weren’t interested in the God of Abraham. No, they had a much better plan than anything he could come up with. They made their plans, staked out their claim, marked out the spot, and put a lot of effort into digging a hole. Once that was done, they set out to protect their investment.
Isn’t that a perfect representation of what humanity’s done since the Fall? Can you think of a better summary of history?
And of course you can see the end result in Scripture, just like you can see it in history and in the world today. In the end they find out that their “cistern” into which they poured such effort, time, and resources is just a leaky vessel. Sooner or later they find this out. We all do, and the sooner we learn it the better.
I feel the need to hammer this point home through repetition: There are only two choices presented here, and there are only two choices allowed in life. You’re either drawing your life from the Spring of Living Water, or you’re depending on your own cistern.
So which will it be?
Father God, you know what my choice is, or at least what I claim it is. I tend to stray quite a bit from the Source, and to start digging my own hole. When that happens, please stop me before I get too far.