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Broken Cisterns

Jeremiah 2:13
For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters,
And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.
Before the discovery of pipelines to run public water, it was common for people to collect their rainwater and store them in cisterns. But there were two inherent problems with cisterns.
First, if there was no rain, there would be no water.
Second, even if there was enough water, the earthen cisterns might easily crack and cause leakage under the changes of seasons and weather conditions.
Cisterns were especially important for life survival and daily needs in ancient Israel. The land was dry and parched. Rain was scarce and infrequent.
The Israelites in those days would dig their cisterns, lining them with bricks and plastering them with mud and hay to hold the water. But these cisterns would often break under the intense desert heat. They would no longer be able to hold any water.
God spoke through His prophet Jeremiah, “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.”
This is the prophetic picture that God was painting. His people was relying on old, broken cisterns which they had made even though there was a continuous spring of living waters flowing nearby.
It was the true spiritual condition of the people of Israel. They had rejected the true God, the fountain of living waters, and relied on their own efforts to satisfy the deep longings of their lives. They had wandered from the Living God, and followed after other pagan gods.
Jeremiah 2:4-13
4 Hear the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob and all the families of the house of Israel.
5 Thus says the Lord:
“What injustice have your fathers found in Me,
That they have gone far from Me,
Have followed idols,
And have become idolaters?
6 Neither did they say, ‘Where is the Lord,
Who brought us up out of the land of Egypt,
Who led us through the wilderness,
Through a land of deserts and pits,
Through a land of drought and the shadow of death,
Through a land that no one crossed
And where no one dwelt?’
7 I brought you into a bountiful country,
To eat its fruit and its goodness.
But when you entered, you defiled My land
And made My heritage an abomination.
8 The priests did not say, ‘Where is the Lord?’
And those who handle the law did not know Me;
The rulers also transgressed against Me;
The prophets prophesied by Baal,
And walked after things that do not profit.
9 “Therefore I will yet bring charges against you,” says the Lord,
“And against your children’s children I will bring charges.
10 For pass beyond the coasts of Cyprus and see,
Send to Kedar and consider diligently,
And see if there has been such a thing.
11 Has a nation changed its gods,
Which are not gods?
But My people have changed their Glory
For what does not profit.
12 Be astonished, O heavens, at this,
And be horribly afraid;
Be very desolate,” says the Lord.
13 “For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters,
And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.
The people of God had left their faith and become ungodly by following worthless idols. They had refused to ask God for help even though He had delivered them from Egypt and led them through a treacherous and barren desert, where no one lived or dared to travel.
The Lord has brought them to His promised land where food was abundant. But they had made His land filthy with their sins. The priests who taught His laws didn’t know Him. The kings and leaders rebelled against God. The prophets gave messages from Baal and worshipped false gods.
The Lord brought this serious charge against His people: “I will take you to court and accuse you and your descendants of a crime that no nation has ever committed before. Just ask anyone, anywhere, from the eastern deserts to the islands in the west. You will find that no nation has ever abandoned its gods even though they were false. I am the true and glorious God, but you have rejected Me to worship idols. Tell the heavens to tremble with fear! You, My people, have sinned in two ways: you have rejected Me, the Source of life-giving water, and you have tried to collect water in cracked and leaking pits dug in the ground.”
The people of God had tried to find satisfaction in life. They did it by indulging in various sins and other futile attempts to fill their lives. Like broken cisterns, whatever they tried to accumulate became stagnant, and whatever they tried to hold on just leaked away. Always seeking fulfillment in life but life just wasted away in the process! Always trying to accumulate things even though they were nothing of any true value. As a result, their broken life became a stench with total emptiness inside. Still they refused to return to the true God to satisfy their thirst.
All of us have legitimate deep thirsts and longings in our lives. They are placed there by God so that we can come to Him, the fountain of living waters.
We long to have meaning and purpose for our lives. We look for love and seek intimacy. We pursue joy and happiness. We desire peace. We yearn for freedom. All of these longings are a part of what makes us human. We are created in the likeness of God. God desires us to be well-fed and well-filled.
It is not a sin to be thirsty, but trying to satisfy that thirst in ungodly ways is! How do we fulfill those longings and thirst in our life? Do we come to the Lord or do we run to other sources?
Firstly, we must recognize that these thirsts come from God. He is our Creator. He has created us with all the longings inside. He understands us more than anyone else.
Secondly, God has designed a way for these longings to be met. We have needs, but we must seek to satisfy those needs in God’s way rather than our own ways. We are inadequate to meet those needs ourselves. That is why we must not forsake and exchange the Spring of Living Waters for broken cisterns of our own. God is the source and supply of our life. Our best attempts to satisfy our needs in our own ways will often result in ultimate failures.
John 7:37-38
If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.
He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said,
out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.
John 10:10
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.
I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
God loves us and desires our lives to be full and fulfilling. He is not trying to frustrate us or make us miserable. He is showing and teaching us how to meet those needs in His ways. He designed life, and He knows best how life can be abundantly lived to the fullest. He desires the utmost best for us.
Thirdly, our needs can never be fully met by a fallen world. Many people are busy building broken cisterns. We pile up possessions and seek for pleasure. We try to drown our pains and sorrows through endless entertainment and amusement. We believe that we are able to live and run our life without God. We replace God with things of the world! We silence our cries for help with loud music and noises. We buy all the latest gadgets in the markets to prove that we are uptrend, electronically savvy and looking good.
Today, our world is filled with so much noises that we cannot hear God anymore. It was the wise men travelling in the lonely dry deserts, and the faithful shepherds watching their flocks in the silent and holy night that God gave the blessed privilege to witness the birth of the Messiah! The rest of the people had simply no room for Him.
Our life is filled with online connectivity 24/7. Kids and adults are flickering, twittering and playing with their smartphones, iPhones and iPads almost continuously and unceasingly! But living virtual lives 24/7 makes us totally unconnected in real life. Human communication has broken down from home to home. People are not speaking to one another over meal and leisure time. Trying to fill up our broken cisterns with something or anything just makes it worst. Life is leaking away faster than we can fill it.
Our world is a representation of the condition of the church. The church at large has rejected God and His laws. Nobody wants to seek God, and do things His Way. We rebel against God, forsaking Him and worshipping other idols! Lawlessness has crept in as the people of God embrace the New Age religion! Many people are doing prophetic acts which have pagan origins! Even their prophecies have no Biblical basis! As there is little or no accountability and integrity, everyone does what is right in his own eyes.
Proverbs 15:8
The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord,
But the prayer of the upright is His delight.
Proverbs 28:9
One who turns away his ear from hearing the law,
Even his prayer is an abomination.
Whether poor or affluent, we are like broken cisterns. We chase after the wind by pursuing material things and worldly ways that bring no true satisfaction. Our prayers also have become an abomination to the Lord. We indulge ourselves with food that cannot nourish and with pleasures that cannot please. The people of the world have become like us. Everyone is filling their broken cisterns thinking that they will satisfy. And nobody is returning to God, the fountain of living waters.
Now we have one thing to do. We must repent and return to God. We must ask God for forgiveness and fill our lives with His Holy Spirit. We must seek to do it in God’s way. We must follow God’s plan.

1 John 5:21 
Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.


Written on 14 December 2013