top of page

Broken Cisterns

Updated: Apr 18

Photo Credit: Sarah Joyce

May 29, 2024

Praying Friends,

Faith is the behavior of our soul that turns away from our own insufficiency to the abundant and all-sufficient resources of God. 600 years before the coming of Jesus, when Israel was in severe decline, this was what Jeremiah did.

Jeremiah was a prophet who reflected the heart of God by his tears. He is referred to as the weeping prophet, as he shed tears over the things that broke the heart of God. Here is one reference, “But if you will not listen, my soul will weep in secret for your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly and run down with tears, because the LORD's flock has been taken captive” (Jeremiah 13:17).

He was a prophet who was set apart by God from his mother’s womb. He was called to be God’s mouthpiece in his youth, and though he was afraid and reluctant, God assured him by touching his mouth (Jeremiah 1:4-10).

His messages to God’s people occurred during the reigns of Josiah, Jehoiakim, and Zedekiah, who was taken into exile in Babylon. Due to Israel’s persistent rejection of their God, his messages were a pronouncement of judgment with added hope and restoration.

Jeremiah used vivid imagery to describe the people of God. In chapter 2, for example, he talked about them as being a loving bride, a plundered slave, a wild vine, a disgraced thief, and a forgetful young woman.

He also spoke about them as cistern diggers. It is most poignant:

“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 2:12-13).

A cistern is a natural or artificial reservoir in the ground. In ancient days, they were used to either hold grain, food, or rainwater. Stored water was essential during the dry season from May to September.

The Israelites often took advantage of natural cave formations and turned them into cisterns. Often these caves had to be lined with lime plaster for waterproofing. Such cisterns could suffer cracks in the lining and the precious water would seep out and be lost forever.

As Jeremiah brought the word of the Lord to these people, tears of sorrow and faith ran down his cheeks, because the waters of God’s fullness seeped from their lives. According to our text, they committed two grave sins: first, they forsook their God. They turned away from Him and despised His overtures of grace. Second, they sought satisfaction in all the wrong places. They turned to empty, dead idols. They were pouring water into broken cisterns.

The broken cisterns of our lives could be anything that turns us from closeness with our God. They are those things that fill our time, our thinking, or our hearts, and subtly substitute the near place He alone deserves. If there is anything that either replaces God or takes you away from God it is like pouring water into a broken cistern. The result is emptiness and devastation.

The living waters of our God are the free, fresh, full life of Christ that comes to us in all its abundance when we are living by faith. The first taste at salvation’s day when faith was placed in our redeeming Savior was sweet and delightful. We were satisfied with Him! Does He still captivate your affections today?

When unbelief creeps in, the cistern cracks and the life giving waters cannot be enjoyed. While we can never lose our salvation, we can certainly lose the enjoyment of it.

We need faith that will cause us to turn away from our own insufficiency to the abundant and all-sufficient resources of God. Thank you for your commitment in praying for our prodigals and for revival.

Love in Christ,

Bryan and Rachel


bottom of page