“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
Jeremiah was speaking to the people of Judah before the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonians that happened in 597 BC. He was urging them to turn back to the Lord, to stop going to false gods or depend on their own abilities. He compared these false gods to broken cisterns that could not hold water.
In Bible times people would carve out large holding tanks for water from solid rock. The summer months were hot and dry with no rain, so they needed a way to store water through the dry season. These cisterns would collect the winter rains, holding large amounts of water that would be used throughout the dry months. Water would be hoisted up with ropes and a bucket.
The people made a lime plaster that covered the surface of the bed rock to protect the water from leaking out. However, after many years these cisterns would develop a crack in the plaster and the water would escape. A broken cistern was useless for holding water.
The people were trying to sustain themselves with cisterns of their own making. They were working so hard to pull up old, stale water, that they had to retrieve over and over again. And the broken cisterns promised water but gave them only a place for tombs and prisons. A place of bondage and death.
God was telling the people through Jeremiah that those false gods they worshiped could give them nothing but empty promises and heavy burdens. In comparison to the Lord, who supplied them with a fountain of living water: fresh, abundant, and overflowing. His water revives us, nurtures us and fills our soul with what we truly need.
Prayer: Please forgive us Lord for going to broken, empty cisterns, seeking fulfillment. There is nothing there. They leave us discouraged and empty. They are truly just bondage for us. Set us free Jesus. Help us reach for you, the Living Water, help us drink deeply from your endless supply of fulfillment. In Jesus’ name. Amen.