Broken Cisterns and Stubborn Hearts

July 15, 2008 at 12:43 pm | Posted in Devotional thoughts | Leave a comment

“They did not obey or incline their ears, but walked in their own counsel and in the stubbornness of their evil hearts and went backwards and not forward.” (Jeremiah 7:24)  What a scary thought!  When I stubbornly go my own way in life, I move spiritually backwards.  Jeremiah gives numerous reminders of this stubborn heart idea throughout the early chapters of his book.  In addition to constant reminders of rebellion and backsliding, he specifically mentions stubborn hearts in seven places (3:17; 5:23; 9:14; 11:8; 13:10; 16:12; and 18:12).

In addition to these blatant words, Jeremiah gives a powerful illustration about broken cisterns to help us understand.  Many of the streams in Israel were seasonal, so there were only a couple of ways to get water during the dry season in Jeremiah’s day: one was to have a fresh spring or well nearby, another was to collect rain during the wet season and store it in a cistern – a large hole in the ground lined with clay to make it water proof.  Spring water was fresh and cold, described as living water; cistern water was stale and warm, and the deeper into the dry season one went, the more stale it became.  When a cistern had cracks in the clay lining, it would leak, and a family or community could run out of water before the next rainy season began.  God compares those who seek life in their own way as catching water and storing it in broken cisterns – something that ultimately doesn’t satisfy.  The sad part is those people have fresh “living water” readily available, but they refuse to use it!  “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.” (2:13)

I wonder how often I stubbornly go my own way and try to find meaning to life in my own devices.  When I do, I am a thirsty man seeking water in the wrong places while denying that fresh water is readily available.  Jesus is the true “Living Water,” and all meaning in life must be found in him.

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