Jeremiah is talking about the bad bargain Israel made in exchanging the knowledge of the one true God for the idols of the nations around them. God had demonstrated His sovereignty over all the idols in Egypt and then again over all the pagan idols of the peoples of 28 dying of thirstCanaan. But Israel deserted their one true God to join in the useless worship of idols. How ridiculous is that? In Jeremiah 2:12-13, Jeremiah calls the heavens to witness this stupidity. He says, “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.”

Guest and Ogilvie explain, “They acted against common sense. Why would anyone take something of great value and deliberately exchange it for something worthless? It defies every law of common sense, so much so that the astonishment can only be felt in heaven because the earth has lost its mind (v. 12). Jerusalem’s capacity to comprehend the loss was gone. A shudder ran through the heavens and through the prophet as he contemplated the two evils of verse 13. First, they had forsaken God, the fountain of living waters. …It makes no sense to forsake such satisfaction, such a link to life itself. No one parched by the desert sun would have given a moment’s consideration to such insanity. Yet this was exactly what Jerusalem had done. Furthermore she had compounded that insanity with another. …They have hewn cisterns of their own making. Tanks out of hard rock, without feeding springs, were unable even to retain what little water might flow into them because they were broken. Judah had given up everything and had gone after nothing. She cheated herself. The loss was poignant and all pervasive. There was nothing now to quench her thirst but mire and filthy sediment. How totally without logic has been her course of action…”[1]

There was a woman at a well in Samaria that Jesus encountered. He offered her “living water.” His living water would be refreshment that would swell up from within and bring contentment and meaning and purpose to her life that she had never experienced before. But we chase the wind hoping to find something of substance and always come up empty! Pink says that “These frying experiences, these bitter disappointments, are another of the means which our gracious God employs to save us from the pleasure and pollution of sin. By them He discovers to us the vanity and vexation of the creature. By them He weans us more completely from the world. By them He teaches us that the objects in which we sought refreshment are but ‘broken cisterns,’ and this that we may turn to Christ and draw from Him who is the Well of living water, the One who alone can supply true satisfaction of soul.”[2]

[1] John Guest and Lloyd J. Ogilvie, Jeremiah, Lamentations, vol. 19, The Preacher’s Commentary Series (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1988), 35.

[2] Arthur Walkington Pink, The Arthur Pink Anthology (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2005).