Summary: My people have changed their Glory for what does not profit.
Jer 2:11-13 Has a nation changed its gods, which are not gods? But My people have changed their Glory for what does not profit.
12 Be astonished, O heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid; be very desolate," (dried up) says the LORD.
13 "For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns-- broken cisterns that can hold no water.
A cistern is artificial reservoirs for storing water, specifically, an underground tank for catching and storing rainwater. For about half the year, rainfall in Palestine is scarce, falling mainly during the winter months. As a result, it was important that water be stored during the rainy months for the long dry season.
A cistern differs from a well in that a well is fed by underground water seepage, while a cistern stores runoff rainwater. In most cities, each house generally had its own cistern. Rain falling on the roof was collected and channeled to the cistern, usually situated beneath the house.
Most references to cisterns in the Bible are symbolic. In writing of the peril of adultery, Prov 5:15 says, "Drink water from your own cistern, and running water from your own well." Jer 2:13 describes God as a "fountain of living waters"-a cool, pure, natural spring. But Judah’s unfaithfulness amounted to "broken cisterns that can hold no water."
Empty cisterns were used as prisons. So Joseph was cast into a "pit" or a cistern. Jeremiah was placed into one miry at the bottom, and so deep that he was let down by cords. Cisterns yield only a limited supply of water, not an ever flowing spring; The stonework of the tanks often becomes broken, and the water leaks into the earth; and, at best, the water is not fresh long.
While we were in Israel we visited Masada, which was Herod’s mountain fortress located on the west shore of the Dead Sea just south of Engedi. The magnificent view from that stronghold was incredible. One of the most fascinating characteristics of this location is the cisterns that were scattered through this hill to make sure the people had enough water to drink. One especially was very large. If my memory serves me right I believe it was at least fifty feet deep and seventy feet across.
The need of the cisterns was because the people had no fresh water. There were no springs or streams from which to drink. It was a very dry and arid land and water was it greatest commodity. Even in the villages guards would be stationed at the wells by the gate. If the enemy found that the well was unsupervised they would sabotage it and poison the waters.
Please listen to me with an open spirit I am going to be as transparent as possible. I have been privileged to have been in some great moves of God where it seems the rain of heaven was unending. I have also witnessed times of great drought to the point of wondering will it ever rain again. I have found that within my own ministry when it seemed the rain of God was falling I would hew out cisterns where I could store up what God was doing and then I would have something to draw from just in case God didn’t show up. I have files upon files of messages I have preached some of which were highly anointed of God and others, well, let’s leave it at that. We are continually trying to make things happen in the church to insure that God is operating in our behalf.