Jer 2:4-13 NKJV  Hear the word of the LORD, O house of Jacob and all the families of the house of Israel.  (5)  Thus says the LORD: “What injustice have your fathers found in Me, That they have gone far from Me, Have followed idols, And have become idolaters?  (6)  Neither did they say, ‘Where is the LORD, Who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, Who led us through the wilderness, Through a land of deserts and pits, Through a land of drought and the shadow of death, Through a land that no one crossed And where no one dwelt?’  (7)  I brought you into a bountiful country, To eat its fruit and its goodness. But when you entered, you defiled My land And made My heritage an abomination.  (8)  The priests did not say, ‘Where is the LORD?’ And those who handle the law did not know Me; The rulers also transgressed against Me; The prophets prophesied by Baal, And walked after things that do not profit.  (9)  “Therefore I will yet bring charges against you,” says the LORD, “And against your children’s children I will bring charges.  (10)  For pass beyond the coasts of Cyprus and see, Send to Kedar and consider diligently, And see if there has been such a thing.  (11)  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.

When my wife and I moved to, what had been her parents home in Spofford TX a few years ago. One of the things we found in the old barn was an old cistern. It was broken and no longer held water, and when I was reading the Jeremiah reading for today, that came to mind. In verse 13 of today’s reading we find this: “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.“ In that part of the world, even today, water is a commodity, one that is sometimes scarce and hard to come by. People would therefore dig a hole and line it with brick and mortar, to catch and hold rainwater so they would have water to cook with and to water the animals in dry times.

In our own time, we have experienced drought, some of the worst times have seen drought go for 3 or 4 years, and once for 7 years. That is a long time without measurable rain fall. So Yvonne’s parents built a cistern to catch the rain water when it fell so they could water the chickens, the garden and that which would otherwise dry up and die. However, the cistern, the holder of water, would also end up with algae or with the mortar seeping into the water and making it undrinkable. Or when enough of the mortar had seeped into the water, it would create a place for the water to escape and the cistern would no longer hold water.

Jeremiah paints a picture for the people, and I think a good one for us today as well. There is a perfectly good source of water flowing right through the middle of this place, yet we people would rather rely on wells, and other artificial means to get our water. In the same manner, God says, the people had a source of living water, and went and built cisterns.

It does seem to be somewhat absurd when you think about it. The people had these broken water holders, cisterns that would not hold water, and right next to them was the living water of God. Here we are with something that might hold some stagnant water in it, made with our own hands, and we are depending on that to sustain us, yet we won’t drink from the fresh spring water which God would provide.

Of course we are talking about the apostasy of the people of Israel, that they have decided to exchange Yahweh for other gods. Baal was the god of crops and rains, the god of fertility of the earth. Very limited god was he, yet the people of Judah had forsaken Yahweh for Baal. It seems to be a strange thing to us as we read the story of Israel, how could they abandon the one who had done so much to save them from their enemies. Yet, over and over again we see them doing just that. They abandon Yahweh for the gods of the nations around them, or for security, or for riches, or the myriad things that we humans search for to fill that God sized hole in our hearts. I have to note that we today are not that much different from those folks in Jeremiah’s day, or those in Jesus’ day.

We are all thirsty, yet we don’t turn to the living water, the moving water rather we want it bottled and cleaned up, we want it to be free of any taint of hardness or saltiness or any of the other tastes we used to take for granted. I remember growing up in New York, I never thought the water tasted strange, yet now, I can taste the strangeness in water that is not filtered. Of course we are really talking about a different type of thirst, as was Jeremiah in this passage. We are talking about the thirst for that which our God has for us, but we want to avoid letting God be in charge.

If we accept that living water, then we also accept that it is God who supplies our needs, it is God who has charge of our lives, and that is something we are not sure we really want to allow. I know that I used to think that I had to do things for myself, and would do it and then present it to God as an accomplishment, rather that asking if that was the right way to go. I didn’t always take it to the Lord in prayer, until I was already messed up.

God has placed thirsts in our hearts and lives, we look for peace, for love, for purpose and for freedom. These are all things that make us human. We are after all created originally in the image of God and these are the things that He wants for us too. The question now becomes, how do we fulfill these thirsts, these longings. It is of course not a sin to be thirsty, however, if we fill our thirst in ways that are inappropriate and sinful. Looking for love in wrong ways, as the song said, “Lookin’ for love in all the wrong places.” It is a good thing to want meaning and purpose in your life, but if you compromise your morals and search for purpose in ways that are against God, then we have a problem. Too often men and women shake off the moral restraints that God has placed on our hearts and go after meaning and purpose without those restraints.

So, we Christians need to understand that there are wrong ways to chase that which God has purposed for our lives, then we need to understand that God has right ways for us to achieve that which He has purposed for us. We come before the Lord and ask for direction to our lives so that we get to the goal in ways that are honoring to God and to ourselves. A Pastor named Dutch Sheets wrote a book a few years ago in which he talked about the river of life. He was referring to the Holy Spirit, and he said that we humans need to get into the river of life and let it wash over us and clean us and help us on our journey.

In other words we need to be immersed in the living water of the Holy Spirit of God, instead of trying to build ourselves cisterns to hold water, we need to immerse ourselves in living, moving, water that comes from the throne of God. We must remember that Jesus said in John 7:37-39 “On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. [38] Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ” [39] Now *this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” He also said that He had come that we might have life and that abundantly, John 10:10.

God does not hold back blessings from His people, we do tend however to miss the blessing he would bring to us. There is a story told about a woman who was a good Christian, worked hard in her church for the kingdom. She never seemed to enjoy the blessings that others enjoyed. One day she died, and when she got heaven, she wanted to know why God never answered her prayers. She was taken to a room, it was piled high with boxes all with her name on them. What are these? She asked. The reply was, “these are the answers to your prayers, you never waited long enough for them to be delivered. You were always too busy.” Perhaps we are too busy to allow God’s blessings to become reality in our lives, after all, God designed life for us, why do we think we need to be so busy we don’t have time to wait on God? We might just find that Freedom, Purpose, Love and all those other thirsts might just be filled by God’s living water.

Of course we do live in an imperfect world, a “fallen world” if you will. Adam sinned in the garden, and the world has been bathed in sin ever since. It is quite literally an imperfect world, we are spending treasure and blood in so many places in our world, it is imperfect and we are powerless to change that. However, there is perfection coming, when the new heaven and the new earth are brought to reality by God. So we wait, with anticipation the coming of Jesus to make all right.

Another reality however in our day, too many people want to dig cisterns instead of turning to God. Not too different from the folks in Jeremiah’s day. The big thing that is different for us is that we have lots more diversions, lots more things we can use to avoid turning to God. We tend to pile up things, we use our radio and tv to blot out the world around us. Just look at the line up for TV programs this fall. Brothers, The Bachelor, Survivor and other so called reality shows. We live life vicariously Have you ever sat at a stop light, and three cars over the radio is so loud, your windows shake and your body actually feels pain from the level of the noise? I have to wonder what the deal is, what is that person trying to escape from?

Why is it we want things to be our way, instead of wanting things to be God’s way? Why do we insist on building those cisterns that will break and not hold water? What is wrong with drinking from the river of God, fresh living water.

There is a wonderful story in John 4, about Jesus sitting at a well at a Samaritan village, and a woman comes out to draw water. Jesus asks her for a drink, and she questions him, he says to her, ““If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you *living water.”

Jesus wanted her to learn that she could satisfy her thirst for life only in God and the living water He offers. I see that Jeremiah is offering a choice to those he is talking to, and to you and I today. We can of course continue to try to fill our own needs in our own ways, digging our cisterns and repairing them when they leak, or we can come before the throne of grace, come before God and wait on His grace to fill our souls with the living water of His grace.

There will come a time when each of us will have to stand before our God, each of us will come to a time of judgment. In Matthew 24 we see the lines going up before God, each person is judged by God and either sent to heaven or to hell. When it comes to your turn what will be the outcome? Have you truly given yourself over to God? When that day comes, and it will, that you stand before the throne of judgment, are you sure of the outcome? That was Jeremiah’s choice, that was the choice that each of the people had to make, and it is one we too must make in our lives. We like to think that we can “casual” Christians, people who can be Christian on Sunday, but on Monday we can be like everybody else. The problem with that is that God expects us to live Christian lives every day, not just on Sunday. We are to use that which God has given to us, to be like Jesus. To live our lives in such a manner, that others know they matter, to you and to God.

The end will come, for each of us, and eventually for this world, how will you face that time? Psalm 63:1 says: “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” Jesus says: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink” John 7:37 Amen.