Repeatedly throughout scripture, God speaks to His people using the imagery of water. Sometimes, it depicts aspect of His character, sometimes it depicts His purpose. Other times, He refers to Himself as water.
Just a few of these references:
“For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring,
and my blessing on your descendants.” - Isaiah 44:3
“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.” - Jeremiah 2:13
I want to zoom in on this last passage that I listed. Now, I’m not asserting that we should take random passages from Old Testament prophets and build entire theologies around them, but I do believe that the way God communicated through the prophets can guide us and help us learn to hear His voice more clearly.
Ancient Israel would have had three sources of water: Flowing water (such as streams or rivers), ground water (which they would have dug for as wells), and cisterns. Both flowing water and ground water are naturally occurring. Israel would have understood that these sources came from God and we’re regulated only by Him. Cisterns, however, are built to redirect and retain those naturally occurring sources of water.
In this passage, God is telling His people four things.
This verse paints a picture of the same repeated pattern that we’ve seen since the Garden: Humankind chooses its own way because they do not believe that God’s wholly good plan is good enough.
I believe that God’s people are still doing this. I look around, and I see so many mechanisms built to contain and redirect the power of God... systems and institutions that try to put it in reservoirs for however they think it should be used.
And just like I believe that God’s people are still guilty of building and using cisterns, I believe that those cisterns are very broken. The cisterns of the American church are broken, and they make God small, and they make people forget that He and He alone is the fountain of Living Water.
It’s time to abandon the broken cisterns. It’s time to get back to the Fountain of Living Water.
“Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
The wild beasts will honor me,
the jackals and the ostriches,
for I give water in the wilderness,
rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
the people whom I formed for myself
that they might declare my praise.”