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
God’s people had committed two great evils:
- They’d forsaken the fountain of living waters.
- They’d laboriously dug cisterns that were broken and couldn’t hold any water.
Commentator Matthew Henry summarized these twin sins as ingratitude and folly.
Basically, the people had turned their backs on God as if he was unremarkable, lifeless, and unnecessary (ingratitude), and instead put their hope in something that was fundamentally broken (folly).
And not just broken, but worthless!
What’s a cistern for?
It’s an underground, waterproof container that holds rainwater and run-off for later use. So obviously, if it’s broken, it’s not worth much because it’s unable to perform its core function—holding water.
To put it another way, how much would your car be worth to you if it couldn’t drive? Or how valuable would your TV be if it didn’t turn on?
A TV that doesn’t turn on has ceased to fulfill its purpose as a TV and has therefore lost nearly all of its value.
In Jeremiah 2:13, this is exactly what God says his people have put their hope in. A car that doesn’t drive. A TV that doesn’t turn on. A faucet that’s run dry.
This is folly. And on top of that, it’s also ingratitude—which is one of the ugliest qualities people can display.
Imagine that you’re in a Hosea situation and are married to someone who constantly cheats on you—even though you’re faithful, kind, and provide for their every need.
Then one day, it goes a step further, and they leave you for the person they’re committing adultery with. And what’s worse, this other person is abusive, breaks every promise, and takes without ever giving anything in return.
That’s exactly what God’s people did—and we still do.
That’s the thing about Scripture, it’s eternally relevant because the fundamental problem in our relationship with God hasn’t changed. We still choose our sin above his grace over and over and over again. But today, the Holy Spirit has given us insight into this behavior.
So, what will you choose, an ever-flowing fountain, or a cracked cistern?