This article on Jeremiah 2:9-13 is about the foolishness of our idols today, and finding our satisfaction in God himself.

Source: Clarion, 2004. 2 pages.

Jeremiah 2:9-13 - God is the Spring of Living Water

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 2:9-13

Do you think Jeremiah’s book is meaningful? He wrote his book 2,600 years ago, in an age of chariots, teraphim and city walls. He knew nothing about computers, space flight, and cable TV. He addressed the sins of Judah, who had abandoned God. Does your spiritual life look like that?

It seems that Jeremiah addresses an age that is long gone, and a problem that we do not face.

Wait, not so fast. The New Testament gives you the key: “…we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it (…). Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:19-21).

It was not Jeremiah speaking after all. God was addressing his people. His prophets use their own figures of speech and take their examples from the world they live in. But this does not mean that God’s message is limited to that age. He continues to address his people and the nations among which they live.

‘Idols R Us’🔗

When you observe what happens in modern life, it is not difficult to see how God’s words through Jeremiah are still meaningful. God’s people had exchanged Him for worthless idols. We need to look at our lives and see whether we have done the same. Sure, you can look at “the world” and rake the people over the coals because they are so bad.

But how about yourself? To what extent have you fallen for the same idols? What do you do when you see the beauties lined up on the covers of the magazines in the supermarket? How do you respond to the idols of your age: the pressure to have the perfect tan and figure, the temptation to accumulate more and more wealth, the appeal of entertainment and sports over “boring” church activities? Modern life seems like a shopping mall full of idols. Which ones have you bought or are on your shopping list?

Running Water or Leaking Cistern🔗

Jeremiah describes Judah’s idolatry in many different images. This is probably the best known one: digging your own cisterns while there is a well of fresh water available. Cisterns were used in the mountains to catch rainwater and store it for the dry times.

Digging those cisterns out was perfectly normal and a smart thing to do when you could only rely on rainwater. But if you had a well that produced fresh water through the year, why would you rely on cisterns instead? People plastered their cisterns to keep the water from seeping out, but the limestone could shift and crack, and gone was your water! By the time you needed it, you would find the cistern empty. So why would you cover up a well with fresh water and rely on cisterns instead? That’s foolish!

Today, you could think of someone having his water shut off by the city because he likes to catch the rainwater that runs down his roof. Not a very healthy solution in the first place, and short-sighted when you know how dry the summers can get.

Water means life. This was even clearer to people whose lives depended on rain or a well on their land.

God is the Source of Life🔗

God teaches us that He is the source of life. You must believe in Him and trust Him for all your needs. He is the spring of living water.

But what is our problem? We start keeping certain areas of life away from Him. For those needs, we don’t trust Him. If we have needs that He does not meet, we try our own ways, instead of respecting his will or waiting in prayer. When He declares something off-limits, as He does in the 10 commandments, we try to find loopholes and satisfy our needs on our terms. This is the sin of idolatry, and this sin has been around for more than 2,600 years.

Sin is always foolish in a world where God rules. God appeals to our love for Him, and also to our common sense: “Don’t you see that you can’t make it without me? Your self-dug cisterns will be empty when you need them.”

We need to find our personal fulfillment in God alone. And even our personal fulfillment we must submit to his providence: do not determine for yourself what makes your life satisfied and meaningful. Let God determine that, and be satisfied in Him.

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