Living WaterApril 14, 2011 - 5:00 am
“My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me,
the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns,
broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” —Jeremiah 2:13
That Israel is facing a serious and significant water crisis should not come as a complete surprise to students of history, geography, or the Bible. Due to its desert climate that makes up a large percentage of its landscape, the country has always faced problems with water shortages.
Indeed, archaeologists have discovered that inhabitants of this region for thousands of years have been greatly concerned with water conservation and have labored to develop ways to collect, store, and transport rainwater. In fact, rainfall is the main source of supply of water for Israel. Moisture from the sea is carried up from the clouds and then falls on the central and northern hills as rain or snow. That, in turn, supplies the springs, the Jordan River, and the Sea of Galilee, which provide water for home consumption and agricultural uses.
Most people today believe that future wars and strategic plans in this area of the Middle East are going to be determined more on the basis of water and its availability than on oil.
So it makes sense that water featured significantly in the lives of people during Bible times. The scarcity of water and droughts were a result of God’s punishment. The prophets Elijah, Jeremiah, and Haggai all saw droughts as a punishment from God. Conversely, rainfall was seen as God’s favor and goodness. It also was associated with danger and death, as in the story of the flood, and the drowning of the Egyptians in the Red Sea during the Exodus.
Water was also seen as symbolic of God’s blessing and spiritual refreshment. We all know the beautiful imagery of rest and refreshment painted in Psalm 23: “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters” (v. 2); and again in Psalm 84: “When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs. The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings” (v. 6).
In Jeremiah 2:13, we see this imagery taken a step further as God refers to Himself as living water, the only source of truth, and spiritual refreshment and renewal. God chastised His people for turning from Him, the fountain of living water, and turning to empty, broken cisterns, by worshipping idols.
Whether we are in the middle of a spiritual drought right now, or whether we have chased after broken cisterns, such as money, our possessions, or our jobs, remember that the remedy to our water shortage is close at hand.
Turn to God, and He will refresh you. As He promises in Isaiah 41, “The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the LORD will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs” (vv. 17-18).