Jeremiah 2 speaks about idolatry. God reminds us that He planted “a choice vine.” It was planted using pure seed. But soon enough, the choice vine became a wild vine. How did this happen? God broke the yokes of the people. The people responded by refusing to serve Him. Instead, they bowed down to other gods. They became a wild vine instead of being the choice vine for which they were created.
This reminds me of my own gardening experience. I remember having a beautiful vine that I planted. It was one of my favorite parts of my flower bed. But the vine did not want to grow in a contained and structured way I had envisioned. Instead, the vine tried to weave its way underneath the siding. It didn’t mind how often I watched over it; the vine started to go into areas that I never intended it to locate. It was crazy wild! I had to pull up a great deal of the vine and do some hardcore pruning.
The people of God, even today, have wandering eyes. It is so easy to turn your eyes from God and find ourselves bowing down to something in place of God. We often think this is a choice we make intentionally, so we boldly claim we would never succumb to idolatry. Yet, our eyes become fixed on other things and we find God is not honored. Usually this happens without even a notice. Sometimes it is a gradual move. Perhaps a small change here or there. Where are your eyes fixed today? What or Who is at the top of your list? Have you become a wild vine who has turned your ears and eyes away from God?
“For long ago I broke your yoke and burst your bonds; but you said, ‘I will not serve.’ Yes, on every high hill and under every green tree you bowed down like a whore. Yet I planted you a choice vine, wholly of pure seed. How then have you turned degenerate and become a wild vine?” – Jeremiah 2:20-21 [ESV]
There are two evils mentioned in Jeremiah 2: The people had forsaken God and the people have traded God for cisterns. These were not just any cisterns, but broken cisterns. Again we find that God’s people have traded Him for something else, something certainly not as desirable.
Interestingly enough, cisterns only hold a certain amount of water. It is limited. So when we read about trading a fountain for a cistern, the comparison already sounds like a horrible exchange. When we look at fountains, we are reminded of a steady flow of water. It seems never-ending.
The verse makes a great comparison of the two items (two evils). We are left with a choice. Do we want the fountain of living waters, Jesus Christ? Or do we want to gather for ourselves broken cisterns that leaves us forever thirsty? We are a broken people, but we need not choose to live our lives with broken cisterns. Instead, we can accept Jesus, the Living Water. With Him, anything is possible.
“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.” – Jeremiah 2:13 [ESV]
In Jeremiah 2, the words are harsh. The Lord asks what the people found wrong with God that made them go after other things. The verse says that because they went after worthlessness, they became worthless. This is blunt. This is harsh. This is difficult to swallow.
It is hard to read this truth and feel any grace. The reason the people had become worthless is because they were deep in idolatry. They could not be used by God for His glory if they were running after other things. It is difficult for you to selfishly and foolishly run toward something in place of God and be used by God for great things for His glory. At the end of the day, not only is it a choice that will be regrettable, but it is also very unfruitful.
Verse 11 makes it clear that this way of living does not profit. The people, His people (note “my people”), decided to cast aside their specialness. They were a chosen people. They cast it aside for something else. The something else was not better. Rather, this action caused them to settle for something that would lead them nowhere good, nowhere they would want to be if they knew the truth. Today, look within. Are you useful? Are you fixated on other things? Imagine what God can do through you for His glory.
“Thus says the LORD: ‘What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless? Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit.’” – Jeremiah 2:5, 11 [ESV]
We have many choices in life. Over the years we have even more choices available to us. Years ago I never would have imagined all of the flavors of water or coffee. We have so many options. We also have a choice to make when it comes to God. We can choose to give our lives to Christ or to choose otherwise.
In Jeremiah, it was noted that the people did “two evil things.” Firstly, they abandoned God. They turned away from God. Secondly, after turning from God, they turned to something else—they gave their lives to something else, to another way.
Jeremiah wrote of these “cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all.” If a cistern is cracked, it’s worthless. Would you put money in a pocket with holes? Would you sail in a boat with a hole? Would you put your child in a stroller with a big hole in the bottom? No. Cracked cisterns in life will never provide you what God has for you. He is “the fountain of living water” and life comes through Him and Him alone. There will always be cracked cisterns when you abandon God.
“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!” – Jeremiah 2:13 [NLT]