By Mark D. Roberts
"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!"
In Jeremiah 2, the Lord explains why the Israelites have fallen into such grave difficulties. Verse 13 narrows down to two their offenses: "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!"
In the land of Israel, water was a precious commodity. If people had a spring on their land, they would guard it and preserve it carefully. In many cases, they would dig a large cistern in the limestone ground, carefully plastering the inner surface so it could contain water. A leaky cistern would be of little help since it would quickly lose whatever water it had once contained.
For the Israelites to abandon the Lord, "the fountain of living water," was both wrong and foolish. They were cutting themselves off from that which promised to preserve their lives. Similarly, by abandoning the Lord and putting their trust in other gods, the Israelites had dug cracked cisterns that would be unable to contain the water of life. Thus they were cut off from the source of life and were unable to contain that life by their own devices.
How easily we act just like the Israelites! We too can cut ourselves off from God. Maybe we don't do this in some ultimate sense, but we do wall off parts of our lives from God's guidance and care. Moreover, even if we don't pursue literal idols, we can seek to build our own "cisterns" in the form of financial portfolios, self-made religious systems, networks of loyal colleagues, or you name it. None of these "cisterns" will be able to hold the living water.
If we want to experience the fullness of life, then we must continually be connected to the only true fountain of living water. The Lord alone is able to nourish, refresh, and sustain us.
Questions for Reflection
What "cisterns" are you tempted to trust to hold the water of life? How can you stay connected to the fountain of living water?
O Lord, when I am connected to you, when I am sustained by you, then my life is immeasurably better. I am continually refreshed by your presence, inspired by your vision, and reassured by your peace.
Forgive me, dear Lord, when I imitate the sin of Israel, abandoning you and making my own "cisterns."
Help me to rely on you each day, whether I'm at work or home, whether I'm praying or laboring, whether I'm alone or with others. Be the fountain of life for me! Amen.
Mark D. Roberts, as Senior Director and Scholar-in-Residence for Laity Lodge, is an advisor and frequent contributor to TheHighCalling.org. A Presbyterian pastor, Mark earned his Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard University. He has written six books, including No Holds Barred: Wrestling with God in Prayer (WaterBrook, 2005). He blogs daily at www.markdroberts.com, and the meditations he writes for The High Calling are featured on Wednesdays at the Evangelical Portal and Mainline Protestant Portal.
3/16/2010 4:00:00 AM