6 March 2018

Jeremiah 2:1-13

“My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and dug out cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns that can hold no water. ” (v. 13)

Psalm: Psalm 31:1-8


Jeremiah’s first prophetic word to the people of Israel is one of their unfaithfulness and God’s faithfulness. Verses 1-3 contains a positive, albeit short word reminding the people of how, in their early days, they had followed God closely and, in turn, were taken care of by God. The second, longer declaration (verses 4-13) turns the first on its head. Though God faithfully rescued them through the Exodus and brought them to the Promised Land, they have turned their back on God and sought to worship idols.

Verse 13 declares that the people have committed two sins. One is that they have turned from God and the other is that they think they can succeed on their own. The metaphor God uses is water, and particularly its storage. For those living in the western world the need for fresh clean water is rarely a worry. We turn the taps on and it appears – there is no thought about where it comes from, how much is there and how long it lasts.

In Israel having fresh, clean water to drink was a daily concern. The country has two rainy seasons and, even then, in some parts only a couple of centimetres fall in a year. This means that water, where possible, had to be found and stored so a constant supply could be had. Springs offered one source, wells could be dug down to the water table and in some places cisterns were dug and covered to store water in.

The comparison is made between God and the freshwater springs that bubble up from the ground and bring fresh, clean water. The people, on the other hand, have dug cisterns for themselves and even where they have lined them (often with limestone) the water finds the cracks and seeps out. It is an image of people turning to their own ways instead of the constant and abundant supply that God offers.

To Ponder

  • In what ways has God been faithful to you in your life?
  • Are there times when you have tried to do something on your own instead of with God’s help? What happened?

Bible notes author

The Revd David Wynd

David Wynd is a Methodist presbyter in the North Shields and Whitley Bay Circuit. He leads Cullercoats Methodist Church and is involved in a circuit project called Network.