Sunday, January 13, 2008

Digging My Own Cistern

Our ladies are going through the whole Bible getting the "big picture" this year. We began in the fall and are just about to finish up the Old Testament and begin the New. At times it's been like drinking out of a fire hose, but it's been great to read the Psalms in context with their specific events, get the placement of the prophetic books lined up with the events in the historical books, etc.

I always love doing Old Testament studies. So many people have the impression of the God of the Old Testament being the angry judgmental God, as opposed to the grace and mercy He demonstrates in the New Testament. But oh, how much mercy & grace He continually pours out on the wayward Israelites! Over and over they turn away from Him until they are in a fix, then they run complaining to Him and He rescues them. (Sounds a lot like me!) After awhile (as in a few centuries!) though, He gets a "little" weary (read: fed up, grieved, heartbroken) of this:

They say to wood, 'You are my father,' and to stone, 'You gave me birth.' They have turned their backs to me and not their faces; yet when they are in trouble, they say, 'Come and save us!' Where then are the gods you made for yourselves? Let them come if they can save you when you are in trouble! Jeremiah 2:27-28

And as I think about what a poor substitute a man-made idol is for the incomparable God of the universe, this verse pricked my heart:

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

From what I've read, the cisterns of that day were dug in the limestone rock, and they would smear plaster on it in an attempt to keep the water from seeping out. What a visual: ignoring a bubbling spring of fresh, clear water and instead choosing to sweat and dig and have only trickling, leaking water for your efforts.

Yet I realized, so many times I do just that. My best effort can only devise a poor substitute for what God abundantly provides. Mere drops compared to Living Water. Crumbs instead of the Bread of Life.

I dig my own cistern by serving the god of my own self-sufficiency instead of Him.

Yet even as He is unleashing His judgment on them for their continued hard-heartedness and idol worship, as they are being taken into captivity by the Babylonians, He tells Jeremiah regarding the remnant of Judah:

My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them. I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart. Jeremiah 24:6-7

Sounds an awful lot like mercy and grace to me.

Depth of mercy! Can there be
Mercy still reserved for me?
Can my God His wrath forbear,
Me, the chief of sinners, spare?

I have long withstood His grace,
Long provoked Him to His face,
Would not hearken to His calls,
Grieved Him by a thousand falls.
For the rest of the lyrics & tune of this wonderful old hymn by Charles Wesley, click here.

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Dimple Queen said...


Thank you for stopping by. I just left a comment back on my site. I came here first and started typing, but realized that what I had to say responded back to you and another that had left a comment. So, I just left it there!

I too liked your blog. I will definitely be back! Thanks for such sound advice!


Kelly said...

Thank you for sharing these reflections! I did a BSF study on Israel & the Minor Prophets several years ago and fell in love with studying the Old Testament, too.

Lysa TerKeurst said...

Hmmm--- an editor hunh? I might know of some volunteer editing jobs if you are interested in volunteering~
Let me know.
Sweet Blessings-

The Preacher's Wife said...

Okay, I think you have exceeded the editing only and went straight to preaching. YOU GO GIRL!

That passage about the cistern has always been one of my favorite. I can't tell you the number of times I've dug one for myself and sat in it staring at my wooden idol that could do nothing but stare back.

This was excellent, Linda!

Did i say YOU GO GIRL? :)


Chris @ Come to the Table said...

What a wonderful post Linda! I want the living water, but too often settle for my own attempts of creating something that can't hold NOTHING!!

How silly this must look!

Praise and Coffee said...

Linda, this is wonderful!

We are far too easily and quickly satisfied with things other than living water and the bread of life.
Amen and amen!


Annette said...

Isn't it amazing that we can hardly believe the stupidity of those Israelites at turning their backs on God time and time again...and yet we've got that plank right in our own eyes! Wonderful post!

Denise C said...

Beautiful post Linda! You are does sound like Mercy and Grace!!! I am thankful His mercies are new every morning!