May 22, 2013
As time passes I feel more and more like the prophet Jeremiah, the weeping prophet who carried a message of judgment to the house of Israel. His mission was to warn them of impending judgment if they did not repent. Through the Book of Jeremiah there are pronouncements of judgment and promises of deliverance if they would repent (Jer. 3:6-15). But repentance does not come and the book ends with the nations of Israel and Judah being taken by Babylon into bondage.
God said to Jeremiah that they had committed two evils: "For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:13). The first evil is the most obvious. They had forsaken the Lord who is the fountain of living waters. He is the source of all spiritual life and power. The church in America has forsaken its God. We do not have the rivers of living water flowing in our lives because we have turned away from the One who is the source of all living water.
And now I hear the cries of many of you. “But our church is filled with life and we are seeing many wonderful things!" you declare. The proof is in our lives. Many of us have a semblance of life in our church programs but if we will be honest we will admit that we have been sucked into the world system with its devilish whirlwind of activity. We are buying and selling and running to and fro and have little time for our King. We “attend” church but fail to become the church, the body of Christ, the fullness of our God (Eph. 1:23).
We sing songs about Him and to Him that should utterly change our lives but then we return to the world system and forget what we said. We are like the man James speaks of who sees his face in the mirror and then goes away and forgets what he looks like (James 1:23, 24). We sing songs like “I Exalt Thee” with emotion and tears and then live lives that do not exalt Him. If He is “exalted above all gods” why is it that we serve a myriad of other gods in this world of materialism, violence, depravity and sexual perversion? If He is the guest of honor in our lives, why do we ignore Him for the sake of our religious protocol?
God told Jeremiah that there was a second evil being committed by the people. He said they had “hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water” (2:13). Of course, God was speaking spiritually. He was saying they had forsaken Him the fountain of living waters but had in their own power dug their own private wells in attempts to provide spiritual water.
Jesus stood up on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles and declared, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37, 38). We must come to Him to drink of spiritual water because He is still the “fountain of living waters” from which we may drink. If we partake of Him we become fountains also as the rivers of His living water flow from our hearts to a thirsty world.
I am going to offend some but I must say it. Our organized, lifeless, churches are the cisterns we have dug with our own hands that cannot hold water. We can pour water into them so that some may appear to be drinking but the wells dry up because they contain no artesian well of God. We have forsaken the Lord and then we dig holes to hold stagnant water as substitutes for the One who declares, “Come unto Me and drink.”
God is saying the same thing today that He said to Israel through Jeremiah: "Return, O backsliding children," says the LORD; "for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion” (Jer. 3:14). He is more than our God—He is our Bridegroom and He is promised to us. But He is not coming to a backslidden, rebellious, bride with a filthy garment. He is coming only for a pure, spotless bride prepared for her Groom (Eph. 5:27, Rev. 19:7).
Too many of today’s shepherds serve more like CEO’s of big companies rather than loving, caring leaders of needy sheep. How often I witness ministry that ends with a plea for money or an advertisement for a book or musical CD. Our churches have become cash cows for those who would use the Gospel as a means of gain (1 Tim. 6:5). The saints have allowed this by demanding teachers who will tell them what they want to hear rather than call them to repentance. Those who truly preach the hard truth in love are rejected, ostracized and marginalized.
If we repent, God promises, “I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding” (Jer. 3:15). If we stop seeking shepherds who will tickle our ears and say what we want to hear, He will give us true shepherds with His loving heart who will equip us to serve one another and thus build up His church (Eph. 4:11, 12). These shepherds will be those whose knowledge and understanding comes from knowing the Great Shepherd. They will not serve for money but will seek the fulfillment of God’s dream of a bride for His Son.
I fear that such repentance will not come without heavy judgment through the world system. Just as God used Babylon to humble the people of Israel and Judah, He may choose to use an out-of-control government system to bring the church to its knees. He used the persecution of Rome to produce a powerful first century church that changed the world. He may allow persecution and political collapse to produce a church that will bring the church age to a close before He splits the sky with His glory.
Some misguided preachers are insisting that the church of the end times will be a nonfactor. If that is true then God is a liar, for He has promised a victorious church, a glorious bride, a loving spiritually unified church walking in His power (Eph. 5:25-27; 4:13-16; John 17:20-23; Rev. 19:7). I do not expect the entire organized church to experience total revival, but I do expect a powerful remnant of faithful to rise up to fulfill the promises made by the Father.
Our task is to determine what the Spirit is saying to the church of this generation and respond with obedience. We are headed in the wrong direction. He asks us to repent—to turn around and return to His embrace. We must return to the One we have forsaken and allow His fountain of living water to flow once again. Out of that will flow the life, love, oneness and power of the Holy Spirit. It is time to fill up our manmade cisterns and let the waters of life flow again in our lives and in the life of His church, the body of Christ.