Broken Cisterns (Jeremiah 2:12-13)

Jeremiah 2:12-13

Be appalled, O heavens, at this;
be shocked, be utterly desolate,
declares the Lord,
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.

The world is full of lies, not least of which are the lies that the world itself contains what can satisfy our souls. God has created us in a very particular way with very particular needs. He has made us so that there is only one thing that will truly satisfy our souls at their deepest points. God has created us with a deep longing, an unquenchable desire, for himself and his glory. God has made us so that we will only find our hearts satisfied when we behold and proclaim the glory of the Lord. We will only truly be happy when we worship God.

The tragedy of our lives is that we go looking to the world to find satisfaction for our souls when the only thing that will satisfy us is the Lord. The illustration from Jeremiah 2 is perfect. We turn our backs on the well of clean, pure, living water, and we instead put our faces in the dust, mud, and dirt of the broken cisterns of the world. We turn to things that may not be bad in and of themselves, but which are incomplete replacements for the truly soul-satisfying glory of God. We look to food, drink, sex, or possessions to find our joy. Sadly, in doing so, we turn our back on seeking our satisfaction in the one place that our hearts can truly find satisfaction, God himself.

So, what is the solution? Is the solution to swear off eating and turn away from marriage? Of course not. The solution is to seek first our joy, our satisfaction, our purpose for living in the only place that satisfaction can be found: God himself. Then, once we have truly found our satisfaction in the deep well of God’s glory, we can be free to enjoy the things God has created in their proper place. We can satisfy our souls with the Lord, and then live in (but not of) the world and not be destroyed by the trinkets and tiny substitute pleasures it has to offer. A man who has drunk deeply of the well of pure living water will no longer be tempted to drink a muddy trickle from a broken and polluted well. Similarly, a man who is satisfied in God will be able to turn away from the foolish indulgences of the flesh.