Sunday, 23 January 2011

Broken Cisterns

(Jeremiah 2:1-13)

Have you ever tried to make a pool at the seaside? No matter how often the children bring buckets of water from the sea, the water seeps away into the sand.
Broken cisterns. They are no good. Their purpose is to hold water, yet they don’t.

The people of Israel have committed two evils (v13, cf 5, 11):

1. They have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living waters. It is the Lord who satisfies. We can drink our fill at the fountain He provides. In fact there is no other fountain. Our hearts are restless, till they find their rest in you. He is the centre, the sun in our planetary motion. So Q1 is ‘are you close to the LORD? Do you hear from Him, walk closely with Him?’

2. They hewed out (dug) broken cisterns for themselves. v20-25 paints a pretty vivid picture of what this means. We can’t blame anyone else. When we go away from the Lord we sin. (It’s amazing how children try and blame parents for their bad behaviour. The parents do everything they can for the children. The discipline them for their own good, but when the children are given just a little leeway they go off and do something stupid. They then come home and say, ‘You brought me up to behave like this. It’s your fault.’) No, we alone are responsible for the turning away. These cisterns cannot hold water – the very job they are designed to do, they cannot do. BTW when it rains, who provides the water? Is rain something we can control? Even if you hew out a cistern, you are relying on the Lord’s provision. Though it would be better to go to the fountain. But it’s no good building a cistern if it’s cracked, and the water seeps away.

Yet that is what we do all the time We replace the genuine (presence of the Lord) with the artificial (methods, music and other kinds of madness). No sane person would do this. If you found a source of something good you’d hang onto it. If you found a seam of gold you’d go and buy the land. You’d sell the shirt off your back to buy it, then you’d mine that seam for as long as you could. But we run away, and make something up ourselves. Like a down-and-out who, having found a soup kitchen that opens every day of the week, goes back to foraging in bins because he’s too proud, he doesn’t want to be provided for.

Q2 – is our ministry bringing others closer to Christ? If not, it’s worthless.

Q3 – is our use of time/gifts/money Christ-centred? Even business in the Lord’s work can be me-centred – I need it to feel good about myself. What about time with the Lord?

Let’s all think about our focus – is it on the Lord, or on our own needs and ministries?

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