“My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn for themselves cisterns – broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13).
The bulk of the book of Jeremiah concerns Judah’s final years before Babylonian captivity (Jeremiah 1:2-3, apx. 626 B.C. – 586 B.C.). There is a post-script which refers to a later development (Jeremiah 52:31-34, apx. 560 B.C.). It concerns events that occurred long ago.
However, the nature of man has not changed. Man continues to commit the two evils mentioned. Let’s notice…
1. They had forsaken the LORD, i.e. Jehovah.
He was/is “the fountain of living waters” (Jeremiah 2:13 cf. 17:13; 18:14; Psalm 36:7-9; John 4:13-14; 7:37; Revelation 21:6; 22:1, 17). He is the source of life. He is the source of blessings (Psalm 35:7-9; Matthew 5:45; James 1:17). He is the source of eternal life (John 4:13-14; 7:37-38; Revelation 21:6; 22:1, 17). Man depends on God as crops do the rain. Man depends on God as sheep do water (Psalm 23:2), or deer do water (Psalm 42:1).
Judah had forsaken the LORD (Jeremiah 2:13 cf. 1:16; 2:17, 19; 15:6; see also, Judges 2:13; 1 Samuel 12:10). How had they forsaken Him? (a) They had done so by turning from the way that He led them (Jeremiah 2:17-19), and going backwards (Jeremiah 15:6). (b) They did so by turning to idols (Jeremiah 1:16).
Why do men turn from God? (a) One reason is that they do not want to listen to Him (Jeremiah 6:16-17). Aldous Huxley admitted, “I had motives for not wanting the world to have meaning; consequently, assumed it had none… the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation… liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom” [Aldous Huxley (1966) Confessions of a Professed Atheist quoted by Bert Thompson in Rock Solid Faith, Vol. 1, pp. 81-82]. Julian Huxley told Merv Griffin, “the reason we accepted Darwinism, even without proof, is because we didn’t want God to interfere with our sexual mores” (quoted by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek in I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, p. 163). Former atheist Lee Strobel has written, “I was more than happy to latch onto Darwinism as an excuse to jettison the idea of God so that I could unabashedly pursue my own agenda in life without moral constraints” (Lee Strobel, The Case for Faith, p. 91). Some “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18). They do not like to retain God in their knowledge (Romans 1:28). (b) Some have the wrong priorities. The rich young ruler is an example (Matthew 19:16-22; Mark 10:17-22; Luke 18:18-23). Demas is an example (2 Timothy 4:10). If He is not Lord of all, then He is not Lord at all in one’s life.
2. They had created broken water pots.
What is meant? It is explained in the context. The LORD said, “Has a nation changed its gods which are not gods? But my people have changed their Glory for what does not profit” (Jeremiah 2:11 cf. 2:8; 7:8). They had rejected the LORD for idols. They had rejected truth for lies. They had turned from living water (running water) for pots of their own creation which held no water, i.e. which did not profit. They had turned from God from whom all blessings flow to false gods that contained no blessings.
Man tends to be a worshipping being. “Although all known societies have religious beliefs and practices, religions vary greatly from society to society” (Religion by Stephen D. Glazier and Carol R. Ember, May 24, 2019, hraf.yale.edu). Notice the words “all known societies have religious beliefs.”
What do men do when they do not like the message of the God of the Bible? (a) Some live as if there is no God (Isaiah 29:15; Ezekiel 8:12; 9:9). This may describe some in Judah (Jeremiah 23:23-24). (b) Some listen to another message (e.g. Isaiah 30:10-11; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12; 2 Timothy 4:1-5). This is what many in Judah did (Jeremiah 6:13-14; 6:16-17; 7:8; 8:10-11). (c) Some change gods. They turn to other gods, and create idols. Some recreate the God of the Bible into what they want Him to be. Some in Judah changed gods (Jeremiah 2:11-13). It is possible that part of the reason that they did this was so that they could follow their own desires. Steven Lloyd tells this story: “Phil Donahue asked his TV guest, who by the way had five wives, ‘If God said polygamy was wrong would you stop practicing polygamy?’ The guest with five wives said, ‘Oh, I’d change gods.’” (Steven Lloyd, Coping: A Biblical Approach, p. 93). So it is with many.
Here are a couple of thoughts: (1) May we not be guilty of shaping God into our image. May we seek to be like Him. (2) May we not twist the scriptures to mean what we want them to mean. May we seek to conform ourselves to His revealed will.