The prophet identifies in a single verse the two great missteps in life, giving two contrasting illustrations of human experience. One is a free-flowing fountain of meaning and happiness with God, and the other is a broken cistern representing toil and failure without Him.
For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.
And we’ll be thinking about the two worst steps of life this evening, and that’s what this text is about. Now Jeremiah is the pleading prophet; back in verse 9 of this chapter he says ‘wherefore I will yet plead with you, saith the Lord.’ And that’s what he’s going to do; he’s not going to bring charges against us or accusations against the people of Israel and Judah.
But he’s going to plead and reason with us and persuade us. And his illustrations and his arguments, the analogies he uses, just tumble out of these chapters verse after verse. Some of the verses in this chapter have two analogies in a single verse. But in this 13th verse there were the two evils. What are the two evils, and what does he mean by them?
Well, the word here ‘evils’ means destructive wrongs. They are morally wrong acts, and they are harmful, damaging, destructive acts, so two evils. Evil in both senses as they are morally wrong and offensive to God, and they are self-destructive to us.
From the beginning of the verse: ‘my people’ – of course he’s referring first and foremost to the Jews, God’s privileged people, and the significant thing here is it is God’s people who have abandoned him and rejected him.