Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit. Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the LORD, 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. Jeremiah 2:12-13
The old saying that a broken clock is always right twice a day has some truth to it; yet it still doesn’t make that clock worthy for use. When things break down, cease to function properly, there are essentially two options that are available: fix it or throw it away. Without it being fixed, the broken item has little to no value.
Under the grace and mercy of God, whom we can rightfully praise and thank, we broken people here on the earth have the opportunity to be “fixed” or restored to newness through the shed blood of Jesus Christ! The Bible has a lot to say regarding things that are broken. From the accounts recorded in the Old Testament about the early Jewish people to the accounts recorded in my own heart and soul, God displays His glory by, and through, the works to rescue the broken, repair the damaged, and restore the functionality of the lost!
I have spoken many times before about how much our current lives mirror those of the Israelites in the Scriptures. How God has set apart a peoples through whom His revelation and power would be displayed to the whole earth. How ‘little ol’ me’ would eventually hear about the God of the Bible through the ongoing story displayed in nature and history. And how we, like the Israelites, continually mess up the instructions of the Lord, even though we have His truth spelled out right in front of us! The people of the Old Testament saw and heard the instructions of God through the prophets and miraculous displays. We, today, have the complete testimony of God through His Word, the Holy Bible, illuminated by the power of the Holy Spirit. Neither party can ever say “we didn’t know” when breaking the commandments of God! And yet, here we are…breaking the “rules” time and time again!
Like the broken clock, we “broken” creatures can also be dealt with in two different ways: fixed or tossed. As mentioned before though, we should be praising God for His mercies in that He does give us the option to be fixed…to be repaired, or restored, so that we can glorify God and enjoy Him forever! He showed His amazing grace constantly for the people of Israel and He still does this today for us though His gift of salvation; Jesus Christ! Though we all may have had periods of “corrective actions” placed on us to teach us lessons about our disobedience, these punishments are always for our good. God used other countries to teach the Israelites correction for their sins and we have the Holy Spirit convicting us of sins, as well as the consequences of our actions. The Bible also exhorts and teaches us today because “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16)
One such example of God’s merciful grace is shown in Ezekiel chapter 36. Beginning at verse 17, God expresses His wrath on the people because they defiled the very land that He had given Israel. They corrupted the land because of their habitual problem with idolatry. If you remember back to the Laws, or Ten Commandments, God expressly told the people that He, alone, is Yahweh God and that “you shall no other gods before (besides) Me”. He also exclaimed that they are not to have any idols; things like carved images or likenesses of anything and “bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God”. Essentially clear instructions. Yet, they continually worshipped other things first and, thus, God punished them…time and time again! In verses 19-21, God even points out that other nations were shocked by the habits of the Israelites. “I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed through the countries. In accordance with their ways and their deeds I judged them. But when they came to the nations, wherever they came, they profaned my holy name, in that people said of them, ‘These are the people of the LORD, and yet they had to go out of his land.’ But I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations to which they came. Even though the people desecrated God’s name, God would still continue to do amazing things to restore His honor! That, dear friends, is mercy!
And what about the people of God today? Those who claim themselves followers of Jesus the Messiah and declare their worship of the God of the Bible? Well, like the people of yesteryear, we continually have very similar failings before God. We have our idols that we put before our worship of God. We have our agendas that take personal priority over God’s agenda. We are hypocrites at the highest levels when we claim to be Christians who worship God, yet live our lives in the same manner as the unbelievers around us. Even the unbelieving pagans point their fingers and say that we are no different from them in our thoughts, words, and deeds. A sad testimony! Yet, God will continue to declare Himself and will restore His honor! As He says in Ezekiel 36:23 “And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord GOD”.
So it is clear that God’s people before, as well as His people today, spend much of their time and energy doing things for their own glory and praise. God says that the failures of men are for two main reasons: 1) forsaking Him and 2) doing their own thing. Humanity has such a drive to be industrious and self-sustaining, but yet are fueled by selfish pride, even since their youth, and want to do everything their own way. We have an insatiable desire to prove ourselves as being better, to make a name for ourselves, and seeking to gain the approval of others so that we can “fit in” and heap glory on ourselves. And yet the Bible speaks clearly that all glory is to be given to God. Conflict!
One thing that is shown within the covers of the Holy Scriptures is that God’s will shall be done! We can kick and scream, demand and pout, or even turn our backs and ignore Him, but in the end, God’s way will come to fruition! God has patiently time and time again, reached out to the people and offered them a way of blessedness and peace with Himself. In the span of time between the Israelites and ourselves today, we find a central core of Scriptures; the Gospel. God gave the ultimate gift to remedy our broken relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus. Through Jesus, God promises us the living waters we need. God said that He is the “fountain of living waters” and Jesus said “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 4:10) Jesus also proclaimed “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:38)
These wonderful promises are truly a blessing that should give all who read and believe in them a hope for eternal life. Yet the words will mean nothing if our spiritual thirst is kept in containers that are broken, cracked, and leaking all the time because we are trying to do things our way, by ourselves. It’s the same type of issue that is described by putting “new wine into old wineskins.” In other words, we must become new in order for the living waters to exist within. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 it says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Our old nature cannot co-exist with the new. We must let God transform us through the renewing of our mind. Joshua 24:23 commands us to “…do away with the foreign gods which are in your midst, and incline your hearts to the LORD.” In other words, put away all the idols that control our lives and surrender to Christ Jesus completely so that we can be sustained by the living waters! We are to remember God, not forsake Him, in all things, and submit to His commands and walk in His ways.
But if the broken vessel does not want to be “fixed”, the only other option is for it to be tossed out, since it will be of no value to the Kingdom of God. This sounds harsh, but if people continue to turn aside from God and follow their own ways, rely on their own strength, reject God and His righteousness, then God will have no choice but to give them over to their desires. They will fall with their created false gods and be cast out for eternity. Jeremiah 2:28 says: “But where are your gods that you made for yourself? Let them arise, if they can save you, in your time of trouble…” These people will be cast out for their ungodliness because they choose to worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator.
Since the beginning of time, man has pushed to be his own god and elevate himself above the heavens. His arrogance demands that he be worshipped and that he should be able to have his best life now. He sets himself before others and puts his faith on man-made idols to worship as accomplishments and rewards. Matthew Henry describes our plight and shortcomings before God when he comments “to forsake this Fountain is the first evil; this is done when the people of God neglect his word and ordinances. They hewed them out broken cisterns, that could hold no water. Such are the world, and the things in it; such are the inventions of men when followed and depended on. Let us, with purpose of heart, cleave to the Lord only; where else shall we go? How prone are we too forego the consolations of the Holy Spirit, for the worthless joys of the enthusiast and hypocrite!”
Why return to the past and become slaves again to the sin that God has already freed us from through His Son Jesus? Why strive after vain emptiness and worthless temporal things when we can have treasures stored up in Heaven where moth and rust can’t destroy! We were broken once, destined for destruction, but God saw value within us, His very own creation, the children that He loves, the one’s who were trapped in the snare of sin in this world. And He has always been there, providing a way of escape and salvation! Despite how man has treated God, God has always called for His children to return home! We can see how God worked diligently in the lives of the wayward Israelites of the Old Testament, continually drawing them back to Himself, even when they turned away from Him and chased after idols. We also see how He has worked in our prodigal lives, always calling us back to Himself, even when we’ve strayed from His presence and placed our trust in the things of man. Yet, He is loving, forgiving, and patient beyond measure! And before God punishes sinners, he pleads with them, to bring them unto repentance. If we repent, “therefore there is now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1).
Between our old nature and the enemies of God, they want us to take our eyes off of God and place them on man and the idols, to replace the Creator for the creature. But we must stand firm on the truth of God’s Word, which is our sword, and maintain our faith in it, which is our shield. The consequences of our choices have ramifications that will last for eternity! Since God has provided the ultimate repair for our brokenness through Jesus Christ, let us keep our eyes on Him and drink of the living waters that He gives us!