• September 20, 2022
  • BY Eric Morse
  • no responses

Broken Cisterns


Read: Jeremiah 2:11-13


In today’s passage, God is confronting His people, Israel, for forsaking Him and worshipping idols instead. The language is picturesque. They’ve abandoned their only true source of life-giving water in the desert. In a desert culture, water is life. If you have a spring of living water, you’ll be able to flourish for years. God is saying, “I am your fountain of living waters, your spiritual nourishment, your life and joy.” And yet, Israel turned aside to false gods. Instead of looking to God for their spiritual life, they looked everywhere else. They hewed out cisterns—water storage containers—of their own, trying to get their own water elsewhere. But their cisterns are broken and leaking. Their water is never enough. The soul is made for more than idols.


God’s people were to look to Him alone as their source of life. In Him, they would find their significance, security, and satisfaction. He was to be their God. But Israel doubted whether God was enough for their souls, and fell for the lie that significance, security, and satisfaction could be found elsewhere. And so, they ran after idols instead.


In the ancient world, there were “gods” for everything: career, romance, fertility, commerce, family, war, crops, health, and more. If we think idolatry is confined to bowing down to statues, we’d be mistaken. Whenever we look to anything other than God for our soul’s significance, security, or satisfaction, we’re living in functional idolatry. Instead of bringing our soul’s deep needs to God to be met, we end up trying to get our soul’s needs met elsewhere. We abandon the fountain of living waters and hew out broken cisterns for ourselves. It never works.


Instead of looking to God for our significance, we might find our identity in career, romance, popularity, or family. Instead of looking to God for our security, we may be tempted to rest our souls in money or strength or relationships. Instead of looking to God for our satisfaction, we might seek ultimate joy in sex, food, or travel. In idolatry we take a good thing God created and enshrine it as an ultimate thing. Whenever we place our ultimate soul’s hope for life in anything other than God, we abandon the fountain of living water for broken cisterns. And the tragedy is we’re left feeling insignificant, insecure, and unsatisfied. As St. Augustine famously put it, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”


Your Journey Reflection Questions:

  • Which soul appetite for significance, security, or satisfaction is strongest for you?

  • Where are you most tempted to hew out broken cisterns in life?

  • What would it mean to look to God as your significance, security, and satisfaction?

  • In light of what you’ve learned today, what is your next step?

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