Take a Drink

I finished reading Isaiah a few weeks ago; my devotions have since taken me to Jeremiah. About 100 years separated these guys who shared the same profession and mission: be God’s voice to God’s people. Isaiah prophesied to Judah in a time when her northern sister, Israel, was being overrun and exiled by Assyria. His message to Judah paraphrased and condensed: “This is going to happen to us unless we repent!” A century later, Jeremiah would become the “weeping prophet”; in anguish over the fact that God’s message through Isaiah (and now him) had been ignored. Jeremiah watched and experienced God’s blows by way of the Babylonians; as Judah would be overrun and exiled by Nebuchadnezzar’s forces.

What had Judah failed to do? “This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river…’” (Isaiah 48:17-18). Instead of listening to God’s instruction (which is “best for you” and “the way you should go”), Judah left the peace of the river and went digging for water instead: “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).

Six centuries later, Jesus had a conversation with a woman not good at selecting husbands—she had been through five and was “kicking the tires” on a sixth (living with the guy). She exemplified one who went her own way, digging wells as she went, and ending up with a mouthful of dust instead. It is then that Jesus says He has some “living water” and that “whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst” and that it “will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:10, 14).

The centuries have come and gone; so have God’s prophets. And despite Jesus’ amazing elixir, freely offered to all; only few “drink from your river of delights” and “fountain of life” (Psalm 36:8-9). Yet the invitation is still there: “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters…” (Isaiah 55:1). Jesus repeats what He said to the woman at the well a couple of chapters later: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink” (John 7:37). And just a few verses before the Bible ends, the invitation goes forth once more: “Whoever is thirsty, let him come…” (Revelation 22:17).

Most of my readers have come and taken a drink. But I still have a question for you: Why all the holes; all the empty cisterns in your “backyard”—why continue to look for water elsewhere? Jesus is enough, my friend; put down your shovel, spit out the dust, and take a good long drink.

Pastor Rich Hamlin
December 1, 2011


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