Forsaking the Fountain – Man as Provider

"Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit. 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." -  Jeremiah 2:11-13 ESV
During World War II, one nation did something surprising:
it changed sides. Italy was led into the war by Benito Mussolini, the fascist prime minister who made an alliance with Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany and joined the Axis powers in 1936. However, Allied forces invaded Sicily in the summer of 1943, and Mussolini was pushed out of power. Then, on October 13, 1943, one month after Italy surrendered to Allied forces, it declared war on Nazi Germany, its one-time Axis powers partner. Italy switched its allegiance.

The nation of Judah did something even more radical than switching sides in a war. They switched gods. For a people so closely identified with Yahweh God (dating back over 800 years to their deliverance from Egyptian slavery), that was unthinkable. Indeed, as Jeremiah put it, it was shocking! Judah exchanged their glory—the manifest presence and power of God—for worthless idols. 

God declared that Judah had forsaken Him, and the biblical image He used in verse 13 is graphic. God described Himself as the fountain of living waters, a bubbling spring, an artesian well that comes from deep within the earth and never, ever stops flowing. Yet, Judah turned away from their God, the life-giving fountain, and turned to idols. God likened these man-made idols to cisterns that are dug, scratched, and scraped out of the earth, only to be cracked so that they can’t hold water. So, when we come to drink from these false gods, there’s nothing to quench our thirst.

God found fault with Israel for trusting in worthless idols and not trusting in Him, the true and living God, who had made and preserved them a nation. He had given them no reason to mistrust him, yet the priests and leaders who should have known better turned their hearts from a faithful God to worthless idols and led the people to do the same. It was a tragic and fatal decision that led to the defeat of Judah, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the exile of God’s people.
How do we know when we have exchanged the living God for a substitute? When we come to something or someone to satisfy our hunger and thirst but go away hungry and thirsty. Jesus said that when a person believes in Him, that person will never hunger or thirst (see John 6:35). The contrast is radical between the life-giving presence of God and anything that attempts to serve as a substitute. It’s a difference between poverty and riches, lack and abundance, and drought and springs of living water.
Rather than seeking the fresh, pure nourishment that God provides, the people in Jeremiah’s day trusted in their own devices to supply the needs of their hearts and lives. This resulted in total spiritual emptiness. It is no different in any age. This is why Jesus invited people to find their fulfillment in Him, essentially describing Himself as the fountain of living water in John 7:37-38. For the man of God, nothing besides Jesus can provide spiritual nourishment, strength for living a godly life, and a deep, settled peace that passes all understanding. As Providers, we must provide an example as well as offer direction and leadership, pointing those in our charge to draw spiritual life and strength from the only true source, the fountain of living waters, who is the Lord. 
  • As the spiritual leader of your family, what or who is your go-to source? Where do you seek your satisfaction and fulfillment? Is it in anyone or anything other than the Lord Jesus? Have you forsaken the “Fountain of Living Water” in favor of substitutes that cannot satisfy?
  • Are you providing an example of seeking the Lord for your satisfaction? Are you pointing your family to the Lord as the source of fulfillment in life?
  • Pray and ask the Lord to smash the cisterns in your life and help you return to the refreshing and life-giving fountain that is Jesus.