Thus says the Lord, “What injustice did your fathers find in Me, that they went far from Me and walked after emptiness and became empty?” Jeremiah 2:5
As a parent, I often relate closely to the emotions that God often expresses in books like Isaiah and Jeremiah. Having teenagers, and having friends with teenagers, I’ve known how it feels to find out that your child has walked after “emptiness,” even when you thought sure you’d worked overtime talking to them about staying on the narrow path, making good choices, and the consequences you experience when you don’t. Still, many kids are experiential learners. You can tell them every day of their lives that walking away from God will bring them nothing but emptiness, but they want to be the masters of their own fate, and experience their own brand of freedom. They want to experience those things that the world touts as desirable.
But isn’t that a description of the majority of people in the world–people who walk after emptiness and become empty?
The problem is, the world’s emptiness often comes in a lovely package. Consider the bright lights of Las Vegas. A beautiful prostitute on the street. Electronics that have all the latest bells and whistles. A beautiful home with an expensive price tag. Someone else’s wife or husband. A drug that promises to make you feel good. The list goes on.
But inside that package is pure emptiness. And a darkness far darker than we ever thought possible. As soon as we have that “lovely package” in our grasp, we realize that we are still unsatisfied, and our desire is unabated.
“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 2:13)
So not only do we forsake the fountain of living waters–the only fountain that satisfies–but we try to slake our thirst with basic tap water. We will inevitably get thirsty again because it’s just that–water. But the water that God supplies, the fountain of living waters does so much more. Here is the definition of the word “living” in this verse, which comes from the Hebrew adjective “chay”:
living; alive; have life; sustain life; live prosperously; live forever; be quickened;
revive from sickness, discouragement or even death; vigorous; fresh; life; refreshment
What amazing properties God’s living water possesses! Yet that water cannot be poured into us–or even remain within us–if we walk away from God. When we walk after emptiness, we become empty. Even if there had been a fountain of living water bubbling up within us formerly, apart from God, we become broken cisterns that can hold no water. It all drains out.
That’s what happened to all the families of the house of Israel. They rejected God for false gods. They walked away from Him, and the further away they went, the more they forgot how it felt to be filled to overflowing with His glorious, loving presence. And before long, they realized that not only were they empty, but they were desperate. Hopeless. (Jeremiah 2:25) In a dry and barren wilderness created by their own doing. Dying of thirst.
Millions in this world are walking after false gods too, like money, drugs, pornography, illicit sex, status symbols. These false gods are basic tap water and these people are broken cisterns, so they keep going after more and more, hoping that at some point, it will fill them up. But it just keeps draining right out, and they continue to be empty and dry.
Let’s not walk after emptiness. Let’s walk toward God, knowing the closer we get, the more healed we become, and the more satisfied we feel. And refreshed. Vigorous. Vibrantly alive. And utterly in love.