Have you ever eaten or drank something that made you sick? What was it?
Isaiah was a prophet that spoke God’s word before the Jewish people went into exile. But Jeremiah was a prophet during the exile. Do you remember what the exile was? That’s right. The exile was when the Jewish people were taken captive by the Babylonians and forced to leave the promised land for 70 years.
But why did God let his people be punished like this? What did they do wrong? Jeremiah the prophet tells us. Listen to how he describes the sin of the people here:
Jeremiah 2:13. for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water.
Jeremiah is using a figure of speech to describe the sin of the people. He’s comparing their sin to drinking water from a “broken cistern.”
The land of Israel can be a pretty dry place, and finding natural, fresh, flowing water can be really hard. So the people would dig big holes in the ground called cisterns. Then they would line the cistern with plaster to turn it into a giant bowl. This cistern would then catch the rain water and the people could drink the water. This was much easier than having to walk for miles to find a well or a stream for water.
But often these cisterns would crack and break. Then they would be filled with mud. Or sometimes even worse animals would get into them and poop. Now the water was gross and even deadly.
God is telling his people that when they “forsake him” and chase after other gods, or idols, or anything that they love more than God, it is like they are drinking gross, disease infested water.
Jeremiah is giving us a warning here. We need to be careful about making anything God gives us into something that we trust or love more than God. For example, let’s say you love to sing. Singing is a gift from God isn’t it? And singing makes you happy. But then you decide that you have to be the best singer. You begin to think that if you can’t sing better than everyone else you will be a failure. You tell God that if he doesn’t let you become a real singer you will be mad at him. What has happened? Now it’s like you are drinking water that will make you sick. You aren’t simply trusting God and enjoying his gift. You’ve made singing into your god.
Our “broken cistern” of disgusting water can be anything that we use to make us feel important, or valuable, or happy. Music. Sports. Games. Good grades. Another person even. These things are good things that we can let control us. When we have to have something or be the best at something in order to be happy, that’s when we know that we have “forsaken (rejected) God.”
When Jesus was on earth he stood up in front of all the people and declared that he was a stream of living water. Not muddy or poopy water that will kill you, but fresh water that will always make us happy. Why? Because Jesus never makes you earn anything. He never asks you to be the best or to do more. He’s the best! He’s done it all! So just trust and love him the most, and you will never be disappointed.
Because of Jesus we don’t have to prove how good or important we are any more.
With Jesus you can always be happy knowing that he’s not keeping score.
DO SOMETHING TOGETHER
Watch this simple scene from the movie Cars. Talk about how Lightening McQueen had to always be the best but was never satisfied or happy. But Sally taught him to just enjoy driving as a gift. That’s what Jesus is trying to teach us too – just enjoy his gifts without making them your most important thing.
You are my fresh water that satisfies me. Help me to stop trying to show off and be the best at things that can never make me truly happy.
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