Broken Cisterns; Preferring the Polluted Over the Pure
“For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water. – Jeremiah 2:13
The verse above just might be one of the saddest passages of Scripture in all the Old Testament. It is here that God admonishes His people for trying to find satisfaction in worldly things rather than simply finding satisfaction in Him. They had a drinking problem. They had stopped drinking from the wellspring of the living God, and instead were trying to drink from the cisterns of the world. Instead of passionately pursing God, they were passionately pursuing anything and everything besides God. They were dipping their “life-buckets” into broken cisterns, yet these cisterns failed to satisfy. And because of their unfaithfulness, God describes their actions as evil. Their story should serve as a warning to us today; for we must guard against allowing these same sins to take root in our own lives. Let us take a moment and consider the dangers in pursuing after the cisterns of the world.
To begin with, the cisterns of the world fail to hold water and eventually dry up. The world’s cisterns have a leaking problem. They are perpetually broken and cannot hold water. The people in Jeremiah’s day failed to understand this as they continually flirted with idolatrous worship and feasted upon worldly pleasures. They sought after their manmade cisterns, which only left them feeling emptier than before. Sadly, not much has changed throughout the centuries. People today drink from the various cisterns at their disposal in effort to find personal satisfaction and contentment. Yet their efforts to hydrate their souls are in vain. They often choose to linger around the dried up cisterns in hopes that something satisfying might spring up. Yet while they linger, their dusty and dirty lives are marked by self-pleasure and self-indulgence all the more.
Secondly, drinking from the cisterns of the world leads to sickness. The living waters of salvation flowing from the fountain of God lead to purity and life. On the other hand, earthly cisterns only offer contamination. Sadly, the people of Jeremiah’s day preferred the polluted over the pure. Yet we too are guilty of the same sin when we pursue anyone or anything more than we pursue God. Sin always leads to sickness, and we become spiritually sick when we drink the muddy water scooped out of the cisterns of the world.
Third, the cisterns of the world are deceiving. What the world offers may initially seem alluring, but will only leave us disillusioned, disappointed, dissatisfied. We must remember that the cisterns hewn out by the hands of men are like a mirage. At first glance they seem impressive, but once the rays of reality shine upon it, its attractiveness evaporates. This is a favorite tactic of our adversary the devil. He has a way of making sin attractive. However, once we give in to a particular sin, we eventually realize that it really did not satisfy the longings of our heart. It has been said that the thought of sin is always more attractive than the deed itself.
Finally, empty cisterns lead to empty lives. Everyone longs to experience a fulfilled life rather than an empty life. Yet the broken and leaking cisterns of the world expand the emptiness of the human heart. Only a fulfilled life is found in God. This is why our passage describes God as the fountain of “living” waters. Only the flowing waters of the living God can fill and satisfy the human heart. In John 4:13-14, Jesus told the woman at the well that “everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”
Oh that we would not be like the people of Jeremiah’s day! Let us not be guilty of forsaking God, the Fountain of Living Waters. He is the Wellspring of Life and only He can satisfy the human soul. Let us drink freely from the well that never runs dry!
– Pastor Eric