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The Cistern is Broken

The following passage in Jeremiah 2 is the accusation of YHVH against a rebellious people. The indictment of adultery and idolatry ring loud in the court. Jeremiah prophesied during the latter part of the 7th century BC and declared the judgment of YHVH on Israel because of their return to idolatry.

Because Israel had forsaken YHVH, the covenant was broken; Solomon’s temple was destroyed and Israel went into captivity in Babylon 585 BC as Jeremiah had prophesied. 

Jeremiah’s calling happened during the time of King Josiah, son of Manasseh, son of Hezekiah. It was Manasseh’s rule that saw the people fall back into pagan worship despite the righteous rule of his father Hezekiah. Unsuccessfully, Josiah failed to turn the people back to repentance and thus with the word of the Lord burning in his mouth, Jeremiah prophesied.

Jeremiah 2Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

2 The word of Adonai came to me: 2 “Go and shout in the ears of Yerushalayim that this is what Adonai says:

‘I remember your devotion when you were young;

how, as a bride, you loved me;

how you followed me through the desert,

through a land not sown.

3 “‘Isra’el is set aside for Adonai,

the firstfruits of his harvest;

all who devour him will incur guilt;

evil will befall them,” says Adonai.

4 Hear the word of Adonai, house of Ya‘akov

and all families in the house of Isra’el;

5 here is what Adonai says:

“What did your ancestors find wrong with me

to make them go so far away from me,

to make them go after nothings

and become themselves nothings?

6 They didn’t ask, ‘Where is Adonai,

who brought us out of the land of Egypt,

who led us through the desert,

through a land of wastes and ravines,

through a land of drought and death-dark shadows,

through a land where no one travels

and where no one ever lived?’

7 I brought you into a fertile land

to enjoy its fruit and all its good things;

but when you entered, you defiled my land

and made my heritage loathsome.

8 The cohanim didn’t ask, ‘Where is Adonai?’

Those who deal with the Torah did not know me,

the people’s shepherds rebelled against me;

the prophets prophesied by Ba‘al

and went after things of no value.

9 “So again I state my case against you,” says Adonai,

“and state it against your grandchildren too.

10 Cross to the coasts of the Kitti’im and look;

send to Kedar and observe closely;

see if anything like this has happened before:

11 has a nation ever exchanged its gods

(and theirs are not gods at all!)?

Yet my people have exchanged their Glory

for something without value.

12 Be aghast at this, you heavens!

Shudder in absolute horror!” says Adonai.

13 “For my people have committed two evils:

they have abandoned me,

the fountain of living water,

and dug themselves cisterns, broken cisterns,

that can hold no water!

14 “Is Isra’el a slave, born into serfdom?

If not, why has he become plunder?

15 The young lions are roaring at him --

how loudly they are roaring!

They desolate his country,

demolishing and depopulating his cities.

16 The people of Nof and Tachpanches

feed on the crown of your head.

17 “Haven’t you brought this on yourself

by abandoning Adonai your God

when he led you along the way?

18 If you go to Egypt, what’s in it for you?

Drinking water from the Nile?

If you go to Ashur, what’s in it for you?

Drinking water from the [Euphrates] River?

19 Your own wickedness will correct you,

your own backslidings will convict you;

you will know and see how bad and bitter

it was to abandon Adonai your God,

and how fear of me is not in you,”

says Adonai Elohim-Tzva’ot.

20 “For long ago I broke your yoke;

when I snapped your chains, you said, ‘I won’t sin.’

Yet on every high hill, under every green tree,

you sprawled and prostituted yourself.

21 But I planted you as a choice vine

of seed fully tested and true.

How did you degenerate

into a wild vine for me?

22 Even if you scrub yourself

with soda and plenty of soap,

the stain of your guilt is still there before me,”

says Adonai Elohim.

23 “How can you say, ‘I am not defiled,

I have not pursued the ba‘alim’?

Look at your conduct in the valley,

understand what you have done.

You are a restive young female camel,

running here and there,

24 wild, accustomed to the desert,

sniffing the wind in her lust --

who can control her when she’s in heat?

Males seeking her need not weary themselves,

for at mating season they will find her.

25 “Stop before your shoes wear out,

and your throat is dry from thirst!

But you say, ‘No, it’s hopeless!

I love these strangers, and I’m going after them.’

26 Just as a thief is ashamed when caught,

so is the house of Isra’el ashamed --

they, their kings, their leaders,

their cohanim and their prophets,

27 who say to a log, ‘You are my father,’

and to a stone, ‘You gave us birth.’

For they have turned their backs to me

instead of their faces.

But when trouble comes, they will plead,

‘Rouse yourself and save us!’

28 Where are your gods that you made for yourselves?

Let them rouse themselves,

if they can save you when trouble comes.

Y’hudah, you have as many gods

as you have cities!

29 Why argue with me? You have all

rebelled against me!” says Adonai.

30 “In vain have I struck down your people.

They would not receive correction.

Your own sword has devoured your prophets

like a marauding lion.

31 You of this generation,

look at the word of Adonai:

Have I been a desert to Isra’el?

or a land of oppressive darkness?

Why do my people say, ‘We’re free to roam,

we will no longer come to you’?

32 Does a girl forget her jewellery,

or a bride her wedding sash?

Yet my people have forgotten me,

days beyond numbering.

33 You are so clever in your search for love

that the worst of women can learn from you!

34 Right there on your clothing

is the blood of the innocent poor,

although you never caught them breaking and entering.

Yet concerning all these things,

35 you say, ‘I am innocent;

surely he’s no longer angry at me.’

Here, I am passing sentence on you,

because you say, ‘I have done nothing wrong.’

36 You cheapen yourself

when you change course so often --

you will be disappointed by Egypt too,

just as you were disappointed by Ashur.

37 Yes, you will leave him too,

with your hands on your heads [in shame].

For Adonai rejects those in whom you trust;

from them you will gain nothing.”

Prophets are called to work out the word of the Lord; in other words what they experience in their own personal lives and relationship with YHVH is allegorically manifest as a sign. During a period of persecution,Jeremiah was captured and thrown into a muddy cistern and left to die. Symbolically it shows us that in our own rebellion we drink from broken or useless cisterns. They are wells that can never sustain us. The waters which they are meant to hold, run dry.

Friends, YHVH is telling us that we too drink from that cistern; the cistern of adultery. Whatever the world provides we consume. We may argue that we want none of it, but we are sadly part of it. The truth is that there is a place that YHVH has prepared for us. It is the estate of the King in which His garden removes our dependency on all the things we have come to believe we need. 

There was in that original Eden, a place meant for us. We were clothed in glory. Spending time together, the Creator and His child, friend and fellow, communed. There was no need for food, work, clothing, knowledge; no need for healing, no sickness, no old age, just peace. All was at peace.

Everything we needed was provided by Him and He delighted and was pleased with it all. The creator wanted His creation to procreate and inhabit the world so that the image of God the creator would fill it. I will return to this thought later but first let me share something with you. Before I do, do not think for one moment that Eden has gone. It is still there, hidden from us and protected by the covering Cherub.

On a recent trip to Italy, the grandeur of its ancient architecture and culture, statues and art, was established for one thing, the glory of Rome. The institution of the church believed that they could continue this form of adulation and give it to God, but what they built was for themselves. The busts of the wealthy and the pious occupy every church, museum, courtyard and piazza. Images of the naked forms of human beings and god’s fighting great beasts and hybrids though astonishing in its execution of artistic prowess stand as monuments to those who commissioned them. The timeless signatures of artists and sculptors and ultimately the grand buildings, especially of the greatest of all, the great temple of Rome - the Vatican - stands only as a mausoleum to the dead popes and phenomenally wealthy who helped establish a corrupt religious system and an empire financed by wars and greed. The first popes, if the truth be known, were in it for themselves. Corruption, adultery, greed and sexual sin pervaded their minds. Like the ancient kings of Israel, some subsequent popes tried to establish a more religious and pious form of worship.

The emblem of the eagle embellishes architecture and memorials everywhere. Its symbol is the great crest of Babylon. That very same symbol taken by so many conquering nations since, now adorns the largest of all empires which includes nations we were born into. America is the offspring of Rome and heads the group of nations as the super power of the world. Within it stands the principalities of that kingdom; wealth, economy, military might. The central motif of the eagle of Babylon is emblazoned in its shield of government. Its official seat of government is called the house of congress and is home to 100 senators (named after the political institution of Rome) along with other house representatives.

Like Rome, America became a nation by gathering the principalities around it and became powerful by allowing other less powerful nations to join it.

Rome is not dead. Its offspring survives today. The statue in Rome of Romulus and Remus suckling from the she-wolf, is an allegory of who and what we have become, and ultimately what we depend upon for our sustenance. Romulus is the brother after whom Rome was founded. There is however debate on whether their story is myth or reality. However, the symbolism draws our attention to the dependence of men upon the beast.

The Vatican was built in the 16th century on what was the circus of Nero where many Christians, including the apostle Paul, was said to have been executed. Hundreds of years earlier the site was swamp land. Later the site was a place of pagan worship and of prophecy. The prophets were called at that time, Holy seers, and that is why the name today for the site of the Vatican on which St. Peter's basilica stands, is called the Holy See. Recent archaeology believes that it has discovered the tomb of Peter beneath the basilica but this is in dispute.

In another part of the city, the Byzantine Pantheon (meaning ‘temple of every god) was commissioned during the reign of the Emperor Augustus 27BC-14AD and finished by Emperor Hadrian in 126 AD. It was a place of pagan worship and a temple dedicated to the gods of the conquered nations. It became a Christian church and remains so to this day, as  ‘the Basilica of St Mary and the martyrs.’

The empire of Rome ultimately could not survive, simply because it clashed with the civilisations and cultures it tried to assimilate into its own. The clash caused nothing but conflict. That same goal is trying to be achieved with the UN in its