The Bible is the inspired word of God. It is full of beautiful, poetic language and wonderful metaphors. One such metaphor is found in Jer 2:13. God is referred to as “the fountain of living waters.” The people had rejected Him and instead had chosen broken cisterns that cannot hold water.
A fountain of living water refers to a source of fresh, flowing water. Such a source was always available and did not dry up during months in which there was no rain. A deep well, which provided water from an underground river, was an example. A cistern, on the other hand, was a manmade object used to store rainwater. They were needed in cases when a fountain of living water was not available.
The problem with a cistern is that the water is not fresh. In addition, cisterns would break, and the stored water would flow out and be lost. Such cisterns were completely useless.
In Jeremiah 2, Jeremiah is comparing God to idols. The Lord is the fountain of living water, while idols are broken cisterns. The point is obvious. Blessings will come upon the nation if they rely on the Lord. He will give them their seasonal rains, large crops, large families, victory over their enemies, and long lives in the land. The Lord is the source of all life and of what is good. The idols can provide nothing.
An illustration of such truths is found in Jeremiah 14. The people had turned to their idols for rain and a great harvest. They had turned their backs on the Lord. The result of their actions is that they experienced a severe drought. There was no rain. Their crops were destroyed. The idols were like broken cisterns of water. In fact, Jeremiah says that during the drought, the people went to literal cisterns to find water and found none (Jer 14:1-6). The whole land languished because of its plight. The metaphor of idols being like broken cisterns was being lived out, as the land was full of empty cisterns.
All of this is a beautiful picture of the Lord. He is the One who satisfies. When His people are thirsty, or have any other need, He is their source of help. Just picture a man thirsty on a hot day who comes to a well with flowing water. His thirst is quenched. Compare him to another man who approaches a cracked ceramic pot to find water. He too is hot and thirsty. But he walks away in need. The first man is the picture of one who relies upon the Lord. The other man is a picture of one who places his trust in something else.
Jeremiah’s appeal is for the Israelites in his day to see the greatness of their God. In their land, a fountain of living water was very rare and thus valuable. They should look to the Lord and abandon their useless idols.
My guess is that most who are reading this blog will be thinking of the same thing. Didn’t Jesus use this metaphor in a conversation with a woman at a well? Yes, He did.
When He was talking to the woman at the well, He told her that He had a fountain of living water. He would give it to her if she believed in the gift of God, everlasting life, and the Giver of that gift, Himself, the Messiah (John 4:10-14).
As great as the picture of the Lord is in Jeremiah 2, the metaphor the Lord uses of a fountain of living water is even greater. The water He speaks of is not large crops, large families, and plenty of water in the midst of a drought. He offers to satisfy our greatest need and thirst. The water Jesus offers springs up into eternal life (John 4:14). Before we believed in Him (= drinking the living water), we did not have that life. When we believed, we received, at that moment, the unending life that we have now and forever. This water is so satisfying, as Jesus told the woman, she only needed to drink it once. She could never lose it or be thirsty for it again.
Anybody who looks for that water in broken cisterns (man-made religions) cannot find it. People attempt to do so. They look for it in turning from sins, surrender, promising to serve God, and religious rituals. These are people who have a thirst but go to the wrong source to quench it. They will not find everlasting life in broken cisterns.
How wonderful is the Lord Jesus Christ! He takes Jeremiah’s beautiful metaphor about the grace of His Father towards the nation of Israel and makes it even better. He is the fountain of the water of eternal life. That life is available to all who believe in Him for it. Those who have it carry that fountain of water around with them wherever they go.