Turn to God from Our Broken Cisterns

Turn to God from Our Broken Cisterns

Thursday, March 26, 2020
Devotional for Day 9

“[F]or 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.” - Jeremiah 2:13 (ESV)

One of my guilty pleasures when I have nothing else to do, is to mindlessly watch survivalist shows on the nature channels. I love to see how people will respond and survive when dropped into a foreign environment. As a contestant, you must get your bearings, find and build shelter, and maybe the most critical, you must find a water source. Food can wait for a time, but water is essential for life. And water that is fresh and will not make you sick is of the most importance.

Now, imagine if a contestant was dropped into an area, and right beside where they made their shelter, they discovered a crystal-clear spring flowing from the earth. Now imagine the survivor walking past the spring and instead opting to gather water from the large watering hole where the animals gather to drink, bathe, and relieve themselves. If we are watching the show, we might find ourselves yelling at the television, demanding that they return to the spring to drink. Why would anyone give up a fresh, life-giving water source in order to drink from a stagnant, sickness-inducing water hole?

Yet, in the prophet Jeremiah’s time just before the exile, this is exactly what the Israelites were doing. In essence, the Israelites had two options before them. They could stay faithful to Yahweh, their God (the crystal-clear spring), or they could worship idols (the stagnant watering hole). And sadly, they chose the latter. Their spiritual and royal leaders had led the people to follow after false gods, and now they were deeply in trouble. Jeremiah uses the analogy of water to describe the true nature of their choice. To pursue idols was both absurd and dangerous, yet here they sat ready to be sent into exile. Jeremiah says that the people had not only committed one sort of evil, turning away from the God who was their sustainer, but they had also committed a second evil by turning to sources which could do nothing to sustain them. These other sources were nothing more than cheap, man-made replicas of the real thing. And as such, they were easily broken and provided nothing they promised to give. They dug a watering hole that could hold no water, and bypassed a spring of life-giving water right beside their camp.

When I look at our country, I cannot help but see the example this illustration reveals to us. We, as a nation, have for years done much to not only ignore, but to even attempt to dry up the source of living water. The more we attempted to move the Trinitarian God from our everyday lives, the more we forsook the fountain of living waters. We have also attempted to create water sources for ourselves. We have tried to replace the Life-Giver with fabrications attempting to replicate the true source, but are nothing more than cheap knockoffs. Unsurprisingly, these knockoffs break and do not hold water; thus we are left thirsting. 

Jesus once spoke to a woman who had come to draw water from a well and He told her about a source of water that will help them to “never be thirsty again. [Because] the water that I will give [them] will become in [them] a spring of water welling up to eternal life. (John 4:14 ESV)”

C.S. Lewis says in Mere Christianity that we are too often tempted to settle for finding fulfillment in things which can never satisfy. He writes,

Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered to us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

Heavenly Father, we are “far too easily pleased,” and we neglect the source that is true and pure, and quenches our thirst. May we as a country see this time of the COVID-19 virus as a potential wake up call. May this reveal to us individually and corporately, where we have carved cisterns for ourselves. May we stop walking to the putrid watering hole of self-aggrandizement and self-fulfillment, and instead drink from the one who offers us “the spring of the water of life without payment. (Revelation 21:6)” 

Christopher Heslep
Ministry Director, Christian Union Nova


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