Who’d a thought there are lessons to be found in cisterns?
I doubt any of the cisterns mentioned in scripture looked as beautiful as this one at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem. The gardens are watered throughout the year with the saving of rain. This cistern, filled by God, symbolizes grace received. It is a picture of humans valuing the gift of God and becoming filled with His provision.
Archeologists exposed the extent that Israel has gone to fill their own cisterns. Seasonal rains brought streams of water from the western hills running to the Dead Sea. It was collected and carried up to the top of Mount Masada to be saved in cisterns like this one.
They first had to dig their own cisterns.
It wasn’t always that way. When God brought His people into the promised land He gave them all they needed. Nehemiah says, “They took strong cities and rich land, and possessed houses full of all goods, cisterns already dug, vineyards, olive groves, and fruit trees in abundance. So they ate and were filled and grew fat, and delighted themselves in Your great goodness” Ch. 9:25
In spite of all that they were disobedient, rebelled and turned away from God’s laws.
Jeremiah judges the spiritual cisterns of Israel and gets thrown in one.
Here is a guy that started off with nothing good to say. God sent him out swinging. “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)
Judgment was coming and the only advice he gave was to flee Jerusalem, surrender to the enemy and live. Words like that didn’t gain him any favor with the sons of the elite. They threw him in a dry cistern where he sank deep in the mud. Thank God for another Ethiopian eunuch. Ebed-melech heard what had happened, told the king and Jeremiah was rescued and thrown in prison instead. There was famine in the land, Jeremiah would have died, and the king was not going to be responsible for the death of God’s prophet. (Jeremiah 38:1-13)
Israel still builds cisterns and the desert blooms.
And throughout the land God’s voice is heard as the sons and daughters of Israel are being drawn by the Father to Jesus their Messiah. There is thirst for the word of God. This map on the wall of the Jerusalem Prayer Center filled me with joy.
Oh, and one more thing about the symbol of a cistern. Proverbs 5 describes a cistern in a sexual manner. The things we can learn about cisterns can save a marriage and draw our attention to God our Provider! How grateful to Him are we who listen.