Friday, October 29, 2010

Broken Cisterns

(Jeremiah 2:11–13)  Has a nation changed its gods, Which are not gods? But My people have changed their Glory For what does not profit.
12 Be astonished, O heavens, at this, And be horribly afraid; Be very desolate,” says the Lord.
13 “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water. 
I had hiked up the mountainside in the heat and dust of the summer.  The biting flies and bees buzzed me.  The creeping vines snatched at my feet. The sun was hot and heat waves shimmered in the distances.  The barbed wire fences were tight and threatened to snag my clothes as I worked my way under them while the scratchy grass threw scratchy seeds down the neck of my shirt, were it stuck in the sweat on my skin.

But eventually I reached the cool shade of the forest and the mountain stream that burbled and bubbled in its channel.  The fragrance of the wild mint growing on the bank mingled with the scent of the pine woods. That running water was ice cold and clear as crystal.  I laid on my stomach and put my face into a small pool and drank.   There I was refreshed and the heat and discomfort of the journey were past.

That is what I think of when I read about "living water."  It is the flowing water of a living stream.  The fresh tasting, teeth-freezingly cold water that can refresh you and give you life.

I remember a long ago trip to Israel.  I remember the deserts on the West Bank of the Jordan near the Dead Sea.  Again, the heat of the sun shimmered in every direction.  We were carried to the top of Masada - a Herodian fortress on the top of a great rock mountain - a place with an amazing history.  Part of that tour took us to giant rooms apparently cut out of the rock.  These rooms might have been storerooms - but at least one was supposed to be a cistern.

I suppose that the idea was to catch rain during the rainy season and channel it into the cistern.  There it could last a long time in the dark of the cave.  The cistern was carved because there were no natural springs on top of that rock mountain (and few in the surrounding desert) - and people need water to live.

But I don't remember there being water in that great big cistern.  Maybe there was some mud.  Perhaps the channels that were supposed to direct the rains to the cistern have been plugged.  Perhaps there was not much rain that rainy season.  Perhaps some earthquake cracked the rock of the cistern and allowed most of the water to drain away.  I sure don't know.  But I think of that big empty cavern every time I read Jeremiah 2:13.

Cistern water is not as good as the living water of a bubbling stream.  It tends to be brackish and tepid.  There might be a scum of algae or mold floating on the top.  Even so, if a cistern did hold water - it could sustain life.

But the false gods of this world are cisterns that cannot even hold water.  The values of this world - Pride, Possessions and Pleasure are broken cisterns.  They cannot refresh you.  They cannot give you life.

Only the One True and Living God - the Creator of life - only He can give us what we really need.  But humans have abandoned Him and turned to gods of their own invention.  No wonder people are so miserable!  They are dying of thirst for the true water of life!
(2 Timothy 3:1–7) But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:
2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,
4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts,
7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

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