Be appalled, O heavens, at this;
Be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the Lord,
for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living waters, and hewed out for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water.
Jeremiah 2:12-13

In this portion of Scripture, the Spirit of Christ, through the prophet Jeremiah, is calling the heavens as a witness against Israel for their apostasy. Living water is a metaphor for eternal life and spiritual sustenance that God alone can provide, while the broken cisterns represent the idols people chase after. Though the word “thirsty” is not explicitly mentioned in the passage, it is alluded to implicitly; the word connotes a craving, and or a strong desire. We see a people—not unlike ourselves—enslaved by their lustful craving for other gods and their desire to be god, as evidenced by their actions. Their unholy thirst led them to make broken cisterns in a futile effort to satisfy their thirst apart from the true and Living God.

Holy Thirst vs. Unholy Thirst

          Whenever the Bible speaks of thirst, more often than not, it is in reference to God’s presence and his very essence, which is life. There are two different kinds of thirst: a holy thirst, which is “God-ward,” and an unholy thirst for everything else. A holy thirst causes an individual to echo the sentiments of Psalm 42:2, “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” An unholy thirst causes one to act in wicked haste as recounted in Jer.2:13. In the former sense, we are thirsty and we never lose our thirst for God.

However, in the latter sense, we are not thirsty—at least not in the way that others might conclude.  Metaphorically speaking, most people would define “thirst,” as “a desire for what an individual does not have.” Nevertheless, the meta-narrative of Scripture presents a different view. All people—believers and unbelievers alike—“live and move and have their being in God” (Acts 17:28). The life they live is in him, and they are in covenant with this God—either in Adam (covenant disobedience) or in Christ (covenant obedience).

“They have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters.” Evidently, the people had God, but they grew weary of drinking living water and developed a thirst for the profane due to their sinfulness. This unholy thirst is at work to destroy our dignity and mar the image of God within us. Our gracious God is calling us to repent of our unholy thirst, seeing it as a lustful desire. Idolatry is high treason, and must be treated as such. Our sins killed Jesus, so how can we trifle with them any longer? Christ came to save us from the power of sin—unholy thirst included—because he is full of grace and truth; love and wrath; mercy and justice. He is the Lion and the Lamb, but above all else he is holy. Therefore, the only thirst he will never despise is a holy thirst for him, so drink up!

 

O Heavenly Father,

We repent of our unholy thirst for the approval of man, love of this world, and even the good desires which have become idols. Holy Spirit, would you cause us to hunger and thirst for righteousness, and enable us to no longer obey our unholy thirst. Lord Jesus, you bid everyone who is thirsty to come and drink from the waters, and it is our prayer that we would be found not only drinking, but drowning in the living waters of your presence.

It is in your name we pray,
Amen.

Ekemini Uwan is a public theologian and co-host of the Truth’s Table Podcast. Her insights have been quoted by the New York Times, The Washington Post, and other major publications. You can find more of her writing at www.sistamatictheology.com and follow her on Twitter @sista_theology