"Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the Lord, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken l me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water" (Jer. 2:12-13).
In this passage pregnant with passion and feeling, the Lord inveighs against His people, Israel, for the utter inanity of their ways. Here is the Lord, the fountain of life, a never-ending source of refreshment, theirs for the taking if they would but receive and drink. But, no, they would rather engage in the back-breaking, arduous task of digging out these containers of water that have no choice but to eventually crack and dismantle into ineffectiveness—so then they dig out some more, a continuous exercise in tiresome idolatry!
It does not take much soul-searching to find that we ourselves have been drinking from our own cesspools instead of quenching our thirst on the life-giving fountain of Christ. While the Lord bids us come and drink, we go off and get sloshed on fetid beverage that can take the form of legitimate sources of providential joy gone sour by overindulgence or actual blatant excursions to sinful revelry. When all the true comfort that we can ever have in this life is in the realization "that I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ; who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him" (Heidelberg Catechism Q&A1), we settle for false hopes and aspirations.
And yet the Lord is faithful with a faithfulness that is beyond the capacity of our sinful, finite souls to comprehend, so He implores, "Return, faithless Israel, declares the Lord. I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, declares the Lord; I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your guilt, that you rebelled against the Lord your God and scattered your favors among foreigners under every green tree, and that you have not obeyed my voice, declares the Lord. Return, O faithless children, declares the Lord; for I am your master; I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion" (Jer. 3:12-14).
Listen to this life-giving message by Dr. David P. Murray entitled, "Diggers or Drinkers", for a masterful exposition of the passage above.