Has any nation ever traded its gods for new ones,
even though they are not gods at all?
Yet my people have exchanged their glorious God
for worthless idols!
The heavens are shocked at such a thing
and shrink back in horror and dismay,”
says the Lord.
“For my people have done two evil things:
They have abandoned me—
the fountain of living water.
And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns
that can hold no water at all!
The largest component in typical human body composition is water - somewhere in the neighborhood of 60%. For maximum energy and strength this percentage needs to remain fairly consistent. This is why you are encouraged to be drinking water during your football games. You may have noticed that when you become thirsty you may also feel sluggish or get a headache. This is your body’s warning system at play - a safety feature God designed to help keep us healthy and encourage us to drink water. If the human body - or any living thing - goes too long without life sustaining water, death is inevitable.
Jeremiah uses the image of water in this passage to describe Israel’s spiritual state. The image is quite appalling!!!! He contrasts “their glorious God” with the “worthless idols” Israel has chosen over God.
Let’s take a closer look at the contrast. He compares God to a life-giving fountain that overflows with pure water - refreshing and satisfying. Conversely, he describes the gods (or idols) Israel has chosen as broken cisterns. Cisterns were used to collect water for use either for convenience or because a spring or well was not readily available. Water that collected in cisterns was likely to develop scum (or algae) , especially if it wasn’t used quickly. It could taste stale or rancid. It was also prone to carry harmful bacteria or viruses.
If we were to give this a modern day update it would look more like a choice between fresh, filtered and refrigerated water to storm runoff collected in a bucket. No comparison, right? Anyone in their right mind would choose the fresh water! And that’s the point!! Israel had chosen the bucket (i.e. cistern). And not only had Israel chosen the cistern, the cistern was broken and so couldn’t even hold any life sustaining water, stale as it might be.
How about you? You can only be sustained so long by the “worthless idols” of life - anything that stands in the place of God. Do you regularly choose those lesser things that actually steal your joy and can’t hold water? Can you think of any of these in your life? Or do you desire that which is fresh and pure and life-giving? God’s desire for you is life! (see John 10:10) Stop wandering around in the cisterns of life. Dive into the refreshing abundant life of God!!!