Jeremiah 1–6: Broken Cisterns & Living Waters

Read the Bible in 2011 ◊ Week 13: Friday

Friday’s Bible reading of Jeremiah 1–6, begins the book of prophecy of the man known as the weeping prophet. As a brief background to Jeremiah’s time, after the death of Solomon the kingdom of Israel split into two. Jeroboam, who was not a son of Solomon, led a rebellion against Rehoboam, Solomon’s son and took with him the ten northern tribes to establish the northern kingdom that became known as Israel; none of the kings of Israel fully followed the Lord, and their history is rampant with wickedness. The southern kingdom was called Judah, and it encompassed the tribes of Judah and Benjamin as well as the Levites and those from other tribes who supported Rehoboam (cf. 1 Kings 12, 2 Chronicles 11). In Judah the kings were of David’s line, and they were a mix of good and wicked kings.

God sent prophets to both kingdoms, but the rebellion of the northern kingdom of Israel led to their judgment, and they were defeated and deported by the Assyrians in 722 BC.1 Jeremiah began to prophesy during the final days of Judah, and Judah’s continued rebellion led to God’s judgment of that nation, and in 605 BC, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon invaded it.  Judah’s king, Jehoiachin, his household, captains, officials, craftsmen and smiths were deported in 597 BC. Nebuchadnezzar made Zedekiah king in place of Jehoiachin, but his rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar led to the burning of Jerusalem in 587 BC, and those who remained were taken captive into Babylon. (cf. 2 Kings 24–25).2 The timeline gives you a broad overview.

In his opening words Jeremiah tells us who he is and gives us a careful record of when the word of the Lord came to him.

The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, to whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the exile of Jerusalem in the fifth month.
Jeremiah 1:1–3

Jeremiah could also be called the reluctant prophet.

Now the word of the LORD came to me saying,
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
And before you were born I consecrated you;
I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Then I said, “Alas, Lord GOD!
Behold, I do not know how to speak,
Because I am a youth.”

But the LORD said to me,
“Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’
Because everywhere I send you, you shall go,
And all that I command you, you shall speak.
Do not be afraid of them,
For I am with you to deliver you,” declares the LORD.
Jeremiah 1:4–8

In chapter 2, Jeremiah contrasts God’s faithfulness with the faithlessness of the house of Jacob—all the families of Israel. Jeremiah prophesied after Isaiah did, and when the people heard these words of Jeremiah, Isaiah would have already recorded the invitation in Isaiah 55 for everyone who was thirsty to come to the waters of the living God (see also Dreams & Ashes):

“Be appalled, O heavens, at this,
And shudder, be very desolate,” declares the LORD.
“For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me,
The fountain of living waters,
To hew for themselves cisterns,
Broken cisterns
That can hold no water.”
Jeremiah 2:12–13

Chapter 3 is a litany of the evils of ‘faithless Israel’ and ‘treacherous Judah’ as they went after other gods. God says to them return, return:

“Then I will give you shepherds after My own heart, who will feed you on knowledge and understanding.”
Jeremiah 3:15

In chapter 4, God continues to call His people to repentance and describes the destruction that will come upon Judah from the north. In chapter 5, He says

“Yet even in those days,” declares the LORD, “I will not make you a complete destruction. It shall come about when they say, ‘Why has the LORD our God done all these things to us?’ then you shall say to them, ‘As you have forsaken Me and served foreign gods in your land, so you will serve strangers in a land that is not yours.’”
Jeremiah 5:18–19

Jeremiah writes in chapter 6:

To whom shall I speak and give warning
That they may hear?
Behold, their ears are closed
And they cannot listen
Behold, the word of the LORD has become a reproach to them;
They have no delight in it.
But I am full of the wrath of the LORD;
I am weary with holding it in
“Pour it out on the children in the street
And on the gathering of young men together;
For both husband and wife shall be taken,
The aged and the very old.
Their houses shall be turned over to others,
Their fields and their wives together;
For I will stretch out My hand
Against the inhabitants of the land,” declares the LORD.
“For from the least of them even to the greatest of them,
Everyone is greedy for gain,
And from the prophet even to the priest
Everyone deals falsely.
They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially,
Saying, ‘Peace, peace,’
But there is no peace.”
Jeremiah 6:10–14

As a new Christian, the book of Jeremiah was one of the first books of the Bible I looked at. Jeremiah 2:13 and 6:14 made a strong impression on me because it so aptly described my experience. I had heard so much false teaching prior to believing in Christ, and I knew it had never helped me or answered my questions. When I became a Christian, I knew that I knew the living God and I recognized the difference between those broken cisterns of the past and the fountain of living waters.

We can never be healed if our disease is falsely diagnosed. Our thirst can never be quenched if we go after other gods. Read God’s Word, heed it. Turn to Him and be made new.

Isaiah 42 Photograph: – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications. (Site has been deleted since posting).
1, 2J. G. Baldwin, “The History of Israel,” The New Bible Commentary: Revised, D. Guthrie, J. A. Motyer, eds., A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman, contributing eds., (Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove IL: 1970) 23–24.
Timeline by Dee Alberty: (Original title: The Period of the Judges in Old Testament History).

Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter

4 thoughts on “Jeremiah 1–6: Broken Cisterns & Living Waters

  1. Hi, I was too tired to respond last night, but I wanted to thank you for your comment. It’s been encouraging to me to find fellowship with other Christians I might never have met but for the internet.

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