‘My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water. Jeremiah 2:13 (NIV)
‘Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding.’ ‘Yes, we will come to you, for you are the Lord our God. Jeremiah 3:22 (NIV)
Jeremiah, many hundreds of years before Christ, speaks of the unfaithfulness of the people of Israel. He describes this unfaithfulness as having forsaken the ‘… spring of living water …’
The imagery used by Jeremiah is very potent. Not only have the people turned their backs on the source of living water, they have looked elsewhere for water. The phrase used is they ‘… have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.’
Jeremiah describes God as ‘ … the spring of living water …’ The water is fresh, running water. Despite this, the people prefer to look elsewhere. They dig ‘cisterns’ for storing water that is no longer fresh, but sitting in a well. Worse still the cisterns leak and don’t hold the water.
It would be easy to read the description in Jeremiah and think it doesn’t apply to us today. For those of us living in towns and cities we have water on tap and are unlikly to have to build our own water storage facility. Those in the countryside know how precious any water source is, particularly if it is fresh, running water. But the application is spiritual, not physical.
In John 4, Jesus speaks of himself as the source of living water. People digging their own cisterns could refer to the sources of satisfaction and meaning that people look for outside of Christ. Of course we all look for satisfaction and meaning in life and often this will be in things like career, family, etc. However, it is when these things take priority over God that the problem exists. In Jeremiah 3 turning our backs on God is referred to as ‘backsliding’. Yet despite this unfaithfulness and turning away, God says ‘Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding.’
If you have drifted away from God, make the final part of Jeremiah 3:22 your prayer –
‘Yes, we will come to you, for you are the Lord our God’
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