Jeremiah 2, ‘Spring of Living Water’, August 28th 2022.
What words would you use to describe God whom we worship? Rock? Father? Faithful?
In Jeremiah 2, God says he is ‘the spring of living water’.
Water is a common symbol in the bible. The people who heard Jeremiah share this message in Jerusalem, they were aware of how precious water was and the threat of it running out.
Psalm 65 – is a song of praise to God, a God who forgives. He is praised, one of the reasons is his answers to prayers, a second, is his provision.
9 You care for the land and water it;
you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
to provide the people with corn,
for so you have ordained it.[d]
10 You drench its furrows and level its ridges;
you soften it with showers and bless its crops.
Central to God’s provision is rain. Have we lost that sense of rain as a provision from God?
Years ago when I was in Kenya, I was struck by their new prayer book, which include a prayer for rain. It just seemed so unreal – I was coming from the UK, born in N,Ireland, a land known for its rain and grey clouds, where it has been said we can have experience 4 seasons in one day.
But you know, go to parts of Europe at this moment, go to northern Italy, to the River Po, as Italy experiences its worst drought in 70 years…A prayer for rain doesn’t seem so out of place…how important to many people are the rains now…
Water, part of God’s provision for his people. God Provides water for Hagar as she flees Abraham. In the wilderness, part of God’s provision as Israel travelled to the Promised Land, was through supplies of water, both miraculously as well as through guidance to the right places.
It is used metaphorically – psalms speaking of ‘ I have come into the deep waters, the floods engulf me’ – of being overwhelmed, lost, struggling…
Once Jesus met a Samaritan woman at a well. She had to collect her water in the heat of the day, because she was not welcome in her village, had been rejected. Jesus said to her:
‘’13 Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ ‘’
A spring of water. Like what we heard God say through Jeremiah.
Relationship with Jesus brings us into that living water.
Later, in Jerusalem Jesus said. 37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’[c] 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
Whoever believes in me, rivers of living water will flow from within.
And that beautiful image in the final verses of the bible: 22 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.’’
Jeremiah proclaims in Jerusalem, that God is in the Spring of Living Water. Jesus declares whoever believes in him, they will have a river of living water, a spring of water within them. And in the
New Jerusalem, there will be a river of life, flowing through it.
To the people of Israel, water was life and blessing.
God through Jeremiah, and later Jesus
declares he too offers life and blessing and refreshment right to the core of our beings.
It is a powerful image. When I was away for a couple of days with Callum, we walked past a small canal – just slowly drying up more and more – the ducks being squeezed into a smaller space, the canal bed was just mud and you could now see stuff on the bottom. It will continue to dry up, unless we get some significant rain. It will dry up.
But God says, he is a spring of living water, a fountain – he will never dry up. There is no dry season with him. God says he is a spring of living water – who offers life, refreshment, blessing.
Isaiah 55 are words to the people of Israel in exile or perhaps just upon their return.
They are a broken people, and the cry of the Lord to them:
55 ‘Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come all who are thirsty.
After the visions in Revelation, in John’s final conversation with Jesus, in light of all he has seen and experienced Jesus says:
16 ‘I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you[a] this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.’
17 The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’
And John tells his readers:
And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’
Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.
Are we thirsty? Come to him, he is the spring.
Or are we going through the motions – it is all religion?
Can we come with expectation that God can refresh us?
Ruth Valerio: ‘The Jesus who turned water into wine, is with us now – by his Spirit – and he delights in pouring his living water in our ordinariness for his glory.’’’
God tells them to come, because they forsaken him, and tried to find living water in other ways…
‘I remember’ God says.
‘“I remember the devotion of your youth,
how as a bride you loved me
and followed me through the wilderness,
through a land not sown.
3 Israel was holy to the Lord,
the firstfruits of his harvest;
all who devoured her were held guilty,
and disaster overtook them,”’
declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 2:1-3).
God talks to the nation, the people.’ I remember how you were committed to me.’ The word ‘devotion’ it points to the most intimate degree of loyalty, love, faithfulness that can exist between two people.
Like Hosea, God uses the image of love, of marriage, and he the bridegroom. ‘as a bride you loved me.’ Love. Commitment.
And how Israel trusted Him in the past – they trusted him through wilderness that could not produce fruit, they followed him knowing it would be okay and he would provide.
When I was in Israel, I remember a really helpful insight that came through some of the Kenyan clergy and evangelists in the group. A lady shared what we had seen on our bus journey in the Negev and around Beersheba. It was brown. You would see the shepherds leading the sheep. Yet there was no grass no water. Maybe only after a couple of hills, you saw it, but you had to wait. As she spoke, it clicked for us, Psalm 23 – the Lord’s my shepherd, I shall not be in want, he makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me by still waters, he restores my soul.
I’d always read that psalm – from Ireland – and probably like here in the Netherlands – the sheep see where the water, the grass, etc is – you just need to get across that Slot and the electric wire.
No David wrote – when it is all brown, and you have no idea when the water will come, the green pastures will come.
Israel trusted God as they went through those wilderness times, he was their shepherd.
And they were special to him, they were ‘the first fruits of the harvest’ – the best of the crops were to brought into the house, as Exodus 23 commanded. Israel were the best of the best. They were the ones at Top Gun, they were God’s first and choicest treasures.
And God protected them – from harm, attack, disaster. And he brought they safely to the land.
I remember your full on devotion, I remember your love – I was number one, you sought to love me with everything you had – you were my treasure, valued, I remember you trusted me in hard and challenging times, and I protected you.
But as God goes on to say, ‘it had all changed’.
All Saints, how are we doing?
Do you hear those words, and think back and say – yes, in my youth, or years ago, I was more committed, I can tell you stories of how I trusted God in some pretty bleak times and he got me through, I knew I was special, accepted, treasured by him, and I knew nothing could stop Him and I was held by his hand.
But Grant, you know, that was then and to be honest, things are different now…
Could that be you? What happened?
As Indiana Jones once said, ‘’it is not the years, it’s the mileage’’.
It is what we have seen and experienced and perhaps it has left its knocks on us.
Some of our experiences have, of course, brought us much good wisdom,
But other parts of it, perhaps, we have picked up wounds, loss of confidence,
maybe it is has been hard being a Christian and it is grinding us down…
Perhaps it is time to come again to the Father,
To bring the loss of confidence, the pain, the wounds, the mileage of disappointments…
Come to the Father.
Father, this is how it was, and this is how I am now…
You may want to right now pray where you are. Or next time you are in a church service, during the serving of Communion, to see that reception of the bread and wine, a step forward to going back. You may want to pray about this with others – Life Groups are placing where we not only study the word, but share how we are doing working and living it all out. Or our prayer ministry team available at All Saints each week.
You are in another place. You maybe where in that place – but it has changed, you have returned or you are returning…
it was New Wine, it was a camp, it was YWAM, it was that day by the river…
returning to that devotion, to that trust, to knowing he is a fountain of living water.
Share your testimony. As Tim Keller reminds us, in Galatians 1, Paul shares his testimony, not because he enjoys putting a spotlight on his personal experiences, or it is generally inspiring, which of course it is. He shares it, in that letter, because he believes it will help his listeners to find Christ and encourage them not to lose him or encourage them to return to the Lord and the gospel and what it means. He uses his testimony to help his friends, the ones he cares about in that church community…
As Keller reminds us, Paul shows us that we need to have courage to be vulnerable and speak personally about what the gospel, the good news of Christ, means to us, how it shapes us, or how it has restored us.
Remember Christianity is an appeal to bring our whole life, mind, heart, strength to Christ – to leave out out how we think or feel is to give an incomplete picture of what Christianity is all about. Christ not only appeals to our minds, he fills our lives, he changes us …
When we share testimony we share the story not for ourselves – so people may think better of us – but it is to help others understand and find Christ, to point people to the Father, to the grace, to the gospel, which we know can change their lives too…
If you are returning, have been restored, please share it with others…
And I’d love to hear it too… maybe it is something that it would be helpful to share with the All Saints community…
Jeremiah’s first public message. God declares he is a spring of living water, a fountain, yet his people have turned from him, not to something almost as good, but in fact to something pretty rubbish and worthless – like turning from a fountain, to instead build a cistern or well, but this well is so full of cracks the water keeps seeping out. They are becoming dry like the rivers in parts of Europe…
Come all those are thirsty, God invites them, come to the spring that never ends…
God says he remembers their devotion, their trust, how they allowed him to lead them, how he protected them and how precious they were to him.
Yet things have changed, how they act towards him.
God reaches out, in his faithful unchanging love, through Jeremiah, for them to return.
Come to the One.
The spring. Seek that water, that life, blessing, refreshment.
To be again how things were – we may have the mileage, but we can still have the relationship.
And for those of you renewed, restored this summer, I thank God for you;
share what God has done, to help others understand and find Christ, who he is and what he can do,
that he says to all : Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.
In the following song ‘Run to the Father’ you may want to use as words or way to draw close to the Lord’.