Forsaking a filled and flowing fountain for an empty cracked cistern sounds ridiculous, but that’s just what Israel is doing according to Jeremiah 2:13. It is what all of us do at some point in our lives. No matter how big or beautiful the cisterns I dig for myself, they will never hold water or compare to the living water Christ’s love provides. Jeremiah 2 is referred to as “Judah’s Apostasy.” Apostasy is the renunciation of a religious faith or an abandonment of a previous loyalty, and digging my own cistern amounts to doing just that.
“For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me,
The fountain of living waters,
To hew for themselves cisterns,
That can hold no water.” NASB
Loyalty becomes tricky when a conflict occurs. That’s true in day-to-day life, and it’s true in my relationship with God. Faith in God provides that beautiful flowing fountain that never runs dry. Faith in my own ability or in anything other than God leads to a cracked cistern and a very dry soul. Only God can satisfy my thirsty soul. In verse 12, Jeremiah relays God’s heart, “‘Be appalled, O heavens, at this, And shudder, be very desolate,’ declares the Lord.”
Appalled and desolate are words that aptly describe the situation in which Israel finds itself, and they also describe the personal idolatry that results when I dig my own cistern. Digging cisterns is a natural reaction when I think I know what’s best for me. I love Jeremiah’s imagery, but his message is always one that tears the very core of my heart. This week’s scripture hit particularly hard, but his image of living water offers tremendous healing. God lets me continue digging cisterns as I try to find a way to get my way, but He prefers that I stop digging and drink from His fountain. The choice is mine because even the sweetest water would not satisfy if forced down my throat. It is only in the dryness of my broken cistern that I find a thirst for God that nothing else will satisfy. He knows I have to dig a few cisterns before I can appreciate His fountain. There is great peace in realizing I can put down my shovel and relax.