Cracked Cisterns

So as London has increased in people over the years, it has also increased in size too. Taller buildings to house the growing population. But, as quick as London grew up, it also grew down. More people, same space and more bodily functions to flush down the toilet. The aging London sewers, built in 1870, have been struggling to hold the ever increasing waste from all the people. Not only the poop, but stuff you shouldn’t flush. Nappies. Nappy wipes. Tampons. Condoms. And fat from cooking things. Yup, all that and more. It’s been going into the sewers of London.

And over the years, together with the increase in people, a new type of beast began to emerge from the sewers. No, it wasn’t 4 super powered turtles, it was this – Fatberg. Each year London spends millions of dollars cleaning away tough as concrete blocks of this congealed stuff.

A few weeks ago, the largest fatberg was discovered under Whitechapel – an inner London suburb. It’s taken more than 3 weeks to remove, is 230 meters long (That’s 10 tennis courts), it weighs 130 tonnes (That’s the same weight as if we had 72 church van’s) and it is going to be turned into 10,000 litres of biodiesel.

Deep beneath the surface, is this disgusting mass of junk.

So, there was a time in the life of God’s people, around 640BC, when a man named Jeremiah, who was a Prophet, wrote down what he was hearing from God to tell to God’s people. Prophets, you see, were all about calling God’s people back to life with him and they often did and said some far out things to shock and show the people just how far they had drifted from God’s ideal and from the relationship (covenant) they had.

Life with God is all about giving life and satisfaction in him and all God says and does is to make that bubble up into a reality for His people. And right early on in his career as a Prophet, he said this shocking thing in Jeremiah 2:10-13,

“Go west and look in the land of Cyprus; go east and search through the land of Kedar. Has anyone ever heard of anything as strange as this?  Has any nation ever traded its gods for new ones, even though they are not gods at all? Yet my people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols!  The heavens are shocked at such a thing and shrink back in horror and dismay,” says the Lord.  (ESV) 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.

So here’s what’s happening in these verses.

A great exchange was taking place in the lives of God’s people. And to illustrate just how shocking this is, God tells Jeremiah to relate it to two types of water: Clean water for drinking, water that satisfies and gives life, water from a fountain that’s dug deep in the earth. A cool, refreshing fountain that bubbles up and really satisfies. And dirty, toilet water. Water from a cistern that’s polluted and is filled with waste.

Jeremiah says that they are exchanging their glorious God and the satisfaction and pleasure found in him, for something worthless and broken.

Instead of seeing their identity as a person come from the glory of God, instead of letting God’s glory amaze and define and satisfy them, they are taking God to the returns counter of Target, and asking to swap Him, when there is nothing wrong with God, for something that is far, far less valuable, for something that can’t satisfy, for something that isn’t living water and is instead, is like drinking from a dirty toilet.

And it’s a crazy! In fact, the heavens are shocked. The angels, the hosts, those who live in dwell with God up in Heaven, all of them are shocked that people would turn away from the grace and kindness of God for something less. They are choosing to let the fatbergs overrun their hearts, to dwell deep in the centre of their life, instead of having God’s glorious water running freely through them.

Practically, each of us suffer from these type of fatbergs in our own life. Nothing much has changed in the human heart since 640BC. We all look for our identity and life in everything else but God. We may turn to popularity, possession, people, porn, pills or live in a state of pain. Worse still, we don’t often realise the full filth of the fatbergs. Our sin is active and deadly. It wages a war with our minds and hearts, persuading us that God is less than glorious, fatbergs are better and that we should reject, deny, disprove him and carve out a life for ourselves without God. God is seen as a kill joy, moral goody goody and totally irrelevant to our life.

But, the thing about fatbergs and sin, is that for a while, everything seems good – on the surface. That fatberg in London, it got so big, and no one knew. It was pilling up, causing a painful and costly removal, yet, people went about their life on the surface as if it wasn’t there. It’s as Proverbs 14:12 says, there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.

Perhaps you need to open the man hole of your heart, shine the spotlight of God’s convicting, freeing and liberating Word down there and ask Him, God, show me the places that are piling up, the fatbergs that are living there. The places that sin is cherishing, that my heart is refusing to give over to you?

Are you suffering from a sinful case of a blocked heart?

But, it gets’ worse. Not only do we exchange God for a fatberg, but, we actively want to as well.

Someone has said that,

God tells us that his people tend to satisfy their thirst not by drinking from his streams of living water, but instead drinking from man-made toilets.

We spend so much time, trying to build a cistern that can hold the flow of our life – the desires, choices, future, ambitions, joy’s, satisfaction, fears, dreams. But the thing is, if this verses is correct, all our building will amount to that of having a cracked and broken toilet that is our life. It won’t hold anything and we will be in a real mess.

But, contrast to this, is a fountain of living water that is on offer to us.

Living water is something that is pulsating and flowing with life. Jeremiah is making the shocking claim that God is the one who can satisfy us – all with his glory.

You know what’s it’s like to get super thirsty and how horrible you feel. And to them have that cool water flowing down into your body and how much more alive you feel after. And this is what God is offering us. But the water is his glory. Because the real problem of our hearts is that we love our own glory more than God’s. Glory is like the sum total of all God’s being. It’s like the rays of the sun that carry the heat. And, his glory is what we are made for, not our own.

Does your life revolve around God? Or, do you wish that God would revolve around you? The life giving water we need, will only be found in the foundation that God offers us. God’s glory indwelling us is what we were made for.

And the way this happens, is by another exchange. If we are all guilty of exchanging God for fatbergs, as we look 670 further ahead, we see God exchanging our sin for his righteousness. Not us returning God, but God buying us back!

Here’s what Jesus does: For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Our fatberg of sin is blasted out of us, and in its place, rivers of living water can flow through us, all through Jesus Christ’s death.

And this wonderful, life giving message is for all. Yes, you who are a Christian, don’t forget that the beginning of Jeremiahs words said my people have exchanged God. Have you forgotten that Jesus is already everything you need? Are you trying to get what God supplies from a fatberg?

For those of you who are unsure about Jesus, God and all that, may you know that God offers you living water for your soul. What can be better than that?

So, I leave us all with the words of Jesus in John 7:37-38

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “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.’”