Posted by: word4men | April 13, 2010

Broken Cisterns, or Springs of Living Water?


There are times I am consumed by a Biblical thought.  This is one of those times.  A few weeks back my pastor (Pastor Ken Hardin-here after PK) was on his never ending quest to not leave a stone unturned in his Gospel of John series when he used a corroborating text from Jeremiah 2:13…well let us supply a bit of background.

Jeremiah, like Isaiah was prophetically preaching to Judah about its (their) sin and how God would use a foreign power to punish them.  Their sins were many, but the source of all the others and the most grievous was that they had turned away from Jehovah and had “God’s on the side.”  This led to open idolatry in worship and towards a preoccupation with material things at the expense of worship and at the expense of their fellow Hebrews.  To put it mildly, God was very unhappy.  Judah was at this time prosperous, but they did not give the glory to God.  Many had abundance, yet they didn’t share with their Hebrew brothers in need.  The crown and glory was that they simply turned from the God who had blessed them with the land, the law and during this time prosperity…more than that, he had selected their forefather Abraham from all the other pagans to carry the blessing of being God’s people.  And they like Gomer in Hosea, turned from the loving, benevolent husband they owed everything to, to empty gods that look like creation…that are made with human hands and thinking.

Enough said…you can see timeless application in this period of Israel’s history, in each society, in your own heart if you dare to look.

11“Has a nation changed gods
         When they were not gods?
         But My people have changed their glory
         For that which does not profit.
    12“Be appalled, O heavens, at this,
         And shudder, be very desolate,” declares the LORD.
    13“For My people have committed two evils:
         They have forsaken Me,
         The fountain of living waters,
         To hew for themselves cisterns,
         Broken cisterns
         That can hold no water.

The two evils strike me.  Always have.  We have forsaken the fountain of living waters for broken cisterns we create with our own hands…like our gods.  The Lord God is upset not only that we…or hmmph… Judah has turned to other pagan gods or even worshiped material things, but that we have forsaken Him and His covenant to trust in themselves.  As if they (or we) can created something that compares with what God the creator has made and promises to His people.  You see, God provides living water…this is running water, from a bubbling spring or quickly running brook.  It is cool and healthy; clean and refreshing.  And, it runs continuously.  It never stops.  A hiker knows to always fill a canteen from running (living) water as there is less chance of it containing contaminants.  The Hebrews knew this also, and running water was at a premium.  A cistern is just a holding vessel, hewn from stone…engineered to collect rain water or maybe water from a spring.  But it can’t make water.  And the water there stagnates.  If not used it will become a home for germs, algae and parasites or it may just evaporate away.  And did He mention, yes he did, that our cisterns are broken, the water simply leaks out into the dry ground.

If you are having trouble following this line of thought, let me make it practical.  God the creator of all things is ready to provide what you really need.  That is Him.  And as maker of all things He can and does provide all the “things” you have.  Yet, we humans wish to place turn to our own devices…cutting off our supply of “living water” (God’s presence) and trust things made with our own hands (broken cisterns….say sex, drugs, achievement, money, political power, relationship manipulation-it is a virtually endless list) to hold the limited “living water” we possess in our souls.  We could have an unlimited supply, but we limit it and let it pour upon the ground.  We waste our lives by trusting ourselves when Christ said:

            “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.”He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'” John 7:37b-38

        Jesus…God the Son.  Promises not just to give us a drink, but to give us “living waters” that flow from our innermost being.  However, they are not there already.  We must go to Him and drink of Him.  Rely upon Him as we would water in the desert.  Satiate ourselves upon Him.  Trust Him to supply living water and trust Him to put it into our innermost. 

Why is this set of verses (Jeremiah 2 and John 7) important to me?  Why be “into” them for 3 weeks?  Why share them with my patients?  Why have this formless ramble about a symbolic 3,000 year old prophetic book at 2AM?  Because, I build broken cisterns all the time.  God has fed me upon His living water for 15 years or so now.  He has given me water that bubbles up from my innermost many times.  But, I still battle.  I still wish to trust in my own abilities, be the master of my ship, time and time again.  I seldom even notice it until it is done.  I think in my own strength, I plan, I minister, I serve my wife, I answer letters, all in my own strength.  And each time I see a bit of my life leak onto the dry dirt of a desert.  And each time when I see what I have done, and call out to God He resupplies me with fresh, brisk, living water…and then I notice it comes just when I need it, as if it is in me…as long as I depend upon Him.  Seek His face when serving my wife, when thinking, when planning my days, when writing a devotion.  Surprisingly, I have written this without the benefit of praying.  Actually, this is prayer.  You all (all two of you) have just been witnesses to my prayer.

Dear Father, break me of my quest for self-reliance.  Do not let me wander in the desert, thinking I have water in my cistern just over the hill, all the time it is leaking out into dry soil.  You are the source of all.  My one and only true master.  You bid me come.  Master I come.  I come to mortify my self-reliance and all the sin that it creates.  I come to worship You as You desire and command.  I come to love the brethren, and to love You so that my mouth cannot stop singing and speaking of your beauty, holiness and mercy before the dry and dying world.  Make me what you desire.  Use me as you desire.  Let me satiate myself in You and only You!

 20Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,

 21to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever.

Amen. (Ephesians 3:20:21)



  1. Our society is inundated with SELF…we have thrown away the living water becuse WE have a more excellent way, We have thrown away conventions based on scripture because they don’t give ME what I want NOW!… how truly sad… thanks as always for a great post.

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