“For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.”
Wrong choices or bad decisions are usually not done singularly; they have a tendency to add up or even multiply. Sin usually leads to additional sin. When someone is doing something that is wrong, it is obviously sin. But while he is doing that which is wrong, it means at the same time he is not doing something that is right. The tragedy of sin is not only measured in the wrong that is done but also in the right that was left undone.
In the Scripture, God described Israel’s sin in a similar way. They had forsaken Him. God is seen as a “fountain of living waters.” In their sin of turning away from God, the Israelites had created “cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” Their sin was two-fold. They turned from God and the true way; but they also devised their own way which was a way of falsehood.
A “fountain of living waters” is a perpetual spring that never ceases to flow, an unending supply of refreshing and nourishing water. A cistern is a reservoir or receptacle for holding water. Several things make a cistern a lesser choice than a spring. A cistern depends upon a supply of water. It must rain for the cistern to be filled, or water must be hauled in from another source. However, a spring of living water is continuous, and not dependent on another source. Also, the waters in the cistern can be contaminated or polluted. On the other hand, the spring of water is pure. In addition, the cistern itself can be damaged and cause the water to escape. This was the way Jeremiah described it: “broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” Being damaged or broken is not a concern when you are talking about the spring of living water because the supply is sustained and plenteous.
God’s people had forsaken the God Who was their continuous supply of all they needed, and built their own mechanism, which was totally inferior and destined to fail. Isn’t that what man tends to do, invent things to trust in rather than to trust in God, and to rely upon other resources rather than rely on Him? God wants to be our source of meaning and purpose. He is the giver and sustainer of life. We need to repent of making cisterns that can hold no water and trust in Him, “the fountain of living waters.”