Jeremiah 2:11-13. But my people have changed their glory
for that which does not profit.
12 Be appalled, O heavens, at this;
be shocked, be utterly desolate,
declares the Lord,
13 for 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.
Have you ever wondered what shocks the heavens? What makes the angels appalled and horrified (desolate)? God is telling the beings that stand around his throne, eternally declaring his holiness and glory, to look at humanity’s sin and be ashamed.
But why? What have God’s people done that is so bad? And why is the prophet Jeremiah so frustrated with them? The answer to this question in Jeremiah 2:11-13 tells us not only what the Jews in exile did wrong, but it gives us one of the clearest understandings of what sin really is.
Let’s look at it in reverse:
Sin is drinking from a broken cistern– they hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.
In ancient times people would dig cisterns, or large holes lined with plaster that would hold rain water. But over time these cisterns would get cracks and leak. They would fill with mud or animal dung and the water would become disgusting and even deadly.
Jeremiah is calling the false gods that the people worshiped broken cisterns. Finding a pure flowing spring of water was far more difficult. But the cistern was close by. It was easily accessible. But the broken cistern, though easier, was deadly.
What is your broken cistern? What is your easy answer to life’s trials? What is your source of comfort in times of pain? Food? Money? Sex? The news? Social media? Work? Family? Exercise? Entertainment?
The problem is that these are all finite things that we use to quench an infinite thirst. None of these things, even good things, can satisfy us forever. Every single one of them will eventually let us down. Or worse. They will enslave us in an addiction cycle. The cycle of feeling better and yet numb at the same time, and so always needing more and more and more in order to feel “normal” again.
Can you name your broken cisterns? Your idols? Your addiction cycle? Can you recognize your patterns of chasing after something over and over for comfort or control?
But why do we do this? Why do we chase false gods? Why do we keep drink from broken cisterns? Jeremiah has the answer.
Sin is forsaking Christ– they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters.
We chase false gods, we dig broken cisterns, we become enslaved to sin because, before any of those choices are made, we have chosen to reject Christ. The fountain of God’s living water.
Each time you choose lust, or entertainment, or knowledge, or pleasure to bring yourself comfort. Each time your own efforts, abilities, preparedness, or performance, become your boast. You have rejected Christ’s water of life and you have drunk from a poisonous, poop filled, pit. Whether you realize it or not, you have declared in your heart that Jesus just isn’t enough to satisfy you.
But the good news is that the same God that said “be shocked and appalled that the people have rejected my fountain of living water,” stood up in the temple courts 500 years later and shouted, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.”
Every other god you chase after will require you to earn your comfort, your control, your peace. Which of course is by its very nature not comfort, control, or peace. But Christ alone can satisfy because Christ alone will never make you earn it. Jesus gives his life away and every good thing that comes with it. Every desire that your chasing – the comfort, the control, the peace, the love – all offered freely by his grace.
“To live is Christ” means that Jesus has replaced your broken cistern of deadly water with his indwelling river of living water. Jesus, the spring of water welling up to eternal life (John 4:14), is IN YOU. No more digging holes to satisfy your desires. No more searching for satisfaction. Just drinking from his ever present stream of thirst quenching love.
Where will you drink today?
What broken cisterns have you been drinking from lately?
You in Christ
How has Christ’s indwelling love and grace satisfied your desires in these times of distress?
Christ in you
How can you point others to the “spring of water welling up to eternal life” (Jesus) today?