The learning curve is much improved when catchphrases are coined as reminders. One such example is: “Nature abhors a vacuum.” Now, we all know that “nature” is not an intelligent entity capable of the emotional response of abhorrence. And, even though there are religions that worship nature, ascribing to this abstract conglomerate the ability to hate, love, or determine something (all expressions only possible in human beings), if God is God, nature is not (New Age nonsense notwithstanding). Nevertheless, God often uses natural catchphrases as springboards to spiritual truth.
The Jewish people were about to experience a total devastation of their temple, their pride and their nation because they had left God. God’s opening salvo in Jeremiah’s prophecy against Israel’s evil was not so much a list as it was a natural, chronological condemnation of apostasy. The answer to the question “How does one leave God?” is reduced to this: there are really only two evils.
“For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hew themselves cisterns – broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13).
The first evil is a purposeful, deliberate departure from the knowledge of God. Through Moses, God revealed in specific detail exactly what He wanted of the children of Israel, punctuating these activities with the idea that God is God and there is no other (Deuteronomy 4:39). As per prediction (Deuteronomy 31:20-21), Israel consciously, intentionally left God. And what happens when a being, designed with self-awareness (Isaiah 1:18) and created with a sense of Someone greater than one’s self (Deuteronomy 4:19), discards the Divine? When God is gone, a god is His replacement.
Israel deserted God for the empty vanity of idolatry, a worship of gods that were unreal, impotent and perverse (Judges 6:31), created in their own image (Habakkuk 2:18-20). Their departure from God, Who had a long track record of protection, guidance and mercy mandated something to fill the void. Most assuredly, anything and everything that pretends to replace God’s place will be anemic, powerless and empty.
The lesson? God will never leave you (Hebrews 13:5). Any severance in our Divine relationship will be our poor choice (Isaiah 59:1-2). But understand this: you will fill the void and it will never provide for you what your Creator can. If you fail to drink from the healthy, pure and living water of God that refreshes, revives and restores the spirit, you will soon be slurping up stale, stagnant and stinky cistern water that poisons, putrefies and plagues the soul. And, so Israel discovered. It is not complicated and it doesn’t take a genius to understand: there are only two evils. Choose neither.