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.
Forsaking God is the first. That is turning away, finding hope and identity in something false, something dead, something other than God. Instead of drinking for the living spring we seek the stagnant pools of our own making.
And then there is the actual digging: sin number two. The words of God in Jeremiah 2:13 are powerful and full of imagery. The idea is that we stand at a fountain of living water, a place where water flows from the ground and is fresh and plentiful and free. But instead of drinking from it we turn and get down on our hands and knees in the dirt and begin digging a cistern—a ditch to hold water. Not living water but stagnant, still, dead water.
Why would we do this?! Why would we stand before the fresh, clean water flowing before us and instead turn to dig in the dirt? Why would we continually practice creating our own holding tank for water—one that is broken and truly holds no water?
Are we so desperate to drink on our own terms? So bent on controlling our own lives that we would rather suck drops from the mud than enjoy the flowing fountain?
Sadly, it appears so. And the two sins are intertwined. The forsaking and the creating of my own source for drinking—these two sins feed off of one another. We believe the lies that other things can satisfy, that other things give life and hope. Oh, we don’t say it in those terms, but that’s what we are believing when we have time for everything else in life, but spend no time drinking from the Scriptures. That is what we believe when we get our “to do” lists done, or invest all our time in work and leisure, but forget to pray, forget to fellowship with God.
Now why go to Egypt
to drink water from the Nile?
And why go to Assyria
to drink water from the Euphrates?
Why do we go elsewhere? Why do we so quickly forget? Why do we repeatedly believe in our own ability to dig deep enough that we might find the living water on our own terms?
We put our hope in human governments, a job, a church, family members, vacations, a new gadget; anything and everything! We are so easily swayed and drawn astray. It’s why parents can begin to live vicariously through the accomplishments of their kids. It’s why church-goers can become desperate to be identified by what they do in the church. It’s why some become workaholics and others find their only real joy in times of buying things.
We put our hope in things and people without realizing what we are doing. It comes far too easy to us. We are wanderers and we are diggers. We are forsakers and we are dirt lickers. And it always disappoints.
Why do you go about so much,
changing your ways?
You will be disappointed by Egypt
as you were by Assyria.
We need constant reminders. We need a community that is always encouraging us to return to the fountain, to drink from the spring.
We will forget. We will be tempted to dig our own source. May God grant us the wisdom and the boldness to continually call one another to get off the ground, to get our hands out of the dirt, and to drink from the living fountain. Only this will satisfy.
On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” John 7:37-38