Compassion

Worthless Idols and Cracked Cisterns

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It is very easy for us to put our trust in things and people who don’t deserve it. Jeremiah 2 refers to this as “trading our glorious God for worthless idols” and “digging cracked cisterns.”

Scripture:        Jeremiah, chapters 1-2; John, chapter 10

Jeremiah 2:10-13 (NLT):

“Go west and look in the land of Cyprus; go east and search through the land of Kedar. Has anyone ever heard of anything as strange as this? Has any nation ever traded its gods for new ones, even though they are not gods at all? Yet my people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols!

The heavens are shocked at such a thing, and shrink back in horror and dismay,” says the Lord. “For my people have done two evil things: They have abandoned me – the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all!”

Worthless Idols

God’s verdict on his people bursts forth from these verses. They had traded their gods for new ones.  We probably don’t grasp the force of this statement, because we’ve read the Old Testament and know the history of Israel. God established them as his people by making a covenant with Abraham. He rescued them from bondage in Egypt and led them into the land of promise. He defeated their enemies, often in miraculous ways. Yet my people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols!

It doesn’t matter what the worthless idols were – because all idols are worthless! Eventually, the truth comes out – the idols are powerless. “Why not call on these gods you have made? When trouble comes, let them save you if they can!” (Jeremiah 2:28).  But they cannot; their “gods” are powerless, because their gods are just creations of their own hands. The only God who can save is the God who created, the Almighty God!

Cracked Cisterns

Verse 13 really caught my attention: They have abandoned me – the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all! The phrase the fountain of living water calls to mind John 4, one of our passages from last week. Jesus tells the woman at the well that he can give her living water.  The contrast is with the stagnant water at the bottom of the well. Who would choose stagnant water over a cool spring?

The people of Israel did: they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all! Rather than drinking from the spring of God’s goodness and mercy, they dug their own cisterns. The cisterns couldn’t provide water, and they couldn’t even hold the water they collected!  In the end, these cracked cisterns would supply only disappointment. Those who looked to them for water, for life, would find nothing.

Worthless Idols and Cracked Cisterns

As I read these verses, I thought of God’s people today. Have we exchanged our glorious God for worthless idols?  We quickly reply, “Of course not!” We convince ourselves that we trust God and work for “his” purposes, but I fear that too often we want to “make Jesus ‘our’ king” (“They Wanted Him to Be ‘Their’ King”). Instead of trusting in God, we decide how we want God to work; we trade the fountain of living water for cracked cisterns.

What does that mean? How quickly do we throw our support behind human leaders who tell us what we want to hear? How easy is it for us to convince ourselves that “this is God’s chosen leader,” when we should remember that God’s Chosen One has been at work for a long time?

No matter how much we may like their message, human leaders are just “cracked cisterns.” That shouldn’t surprise us – all of us are!  “We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves” (2 Corinthians 4:7, emphasis added). God also told Paul that his power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). So let’s stop putting our trust in cracked cisterns, and go to the fountain of living water!

Prayer:

Father, thank you for reminding us that anyone and anything other than you can be an idol if we turn away from you. Jesus reminded us that apart from him, we can do nothing. That also means that leaders who do not seek you can do nothing. You may use them for a time, but we should never mistake them for you.

You are the fountain of living water, and only you can truly satisfy us! Help us to stop looking for water in the cracked cisterns of human achievement and power.  Guard us against the temptation to trade our glorious God for the worthless idols of our age.  Amen.

 





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Written by: OchriO

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