God’s prophets had a tough gig. They were to speak on behalf of God to his people. At first glance, what was so difficult about that? Wouldn’t people want to hear from God? You’d think the guy with a direct connection to the Creator and Sustainer of the world would be revered. The writer of Hebrews reveals otherwise; most weren’t esteemed, many were flogged, enchained, imprisoned, stoned, and even sawn in two (Hebrews 11:36-38)—a tough gig indeed.
Yet, when they opened their mouths and announced, “Thus saith the Lord,” there should have been a collective hush. Life and truth were about to go forth.
One such mouthpiece was Jeremiah. His was a lonely existence because of his unpopular message, as he described it, “I sat alone” (Jeremiah 15:17). God’s summary indictment of his people came early in Jeremiah’s ministry, saying through his prophet, “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” (2:13).
God’s message wasn’t for the Philistines or the Moabites or the Assyrians or any other people group in or around the Middle East at the time. It was a message to “my people”—his people that should have known better.
Their sin was twofold. They had rejected God’s life-giving water (Isaiah 55:1); and in their resulting thirst, chiseled out holes in rocks in hopes of capturing the rain. That sounds like a lot of work. What made it easier, however, was that there was a lot of limestone in Israel—soft rock—so there were many cisterns.
And now we detour to us. There are no more prophets. None are needed. God said all that he needed to say through Jesus. The New Testament canon is closed. “Thus saith the Lord” is proclaimed, though, anytime we open our Bibles or listen to a sermon. Are we heeding or are we forsaking?
If we are forsaking, we are going to get thirsty traveling this dry and weary land. As such, we start looking for water elsewhere. And we can find places that promise us to quench. They, too, are everywhere. But as Jesus told the woman at the well, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14).
When you taste the life-giving water of God received at salvation, the dirty and unreliable cisterns elsewhere are to lose their appeal. But if you find yourself thirsty, the first question to ask is where have you been drinking? If you are parched, it hasn’t been from Jesus.
Pastor Rich Hamlin
September 10, 2020