9 You also saw the damage to the city of David,
That it was great;
And you gathered together the waters of the lower pool.
10 You numbered the houses of Jerusalem,
And the houses you broke down
To fortify the wall.
11 You also made a reservoir between the two walls
For the water of the old pool.
But you did not look to its Maker,
Nor did you have respect for Him who fashioned it long ago.
12 And in that day the Lord GOD of hosts
Called for weeping and for mourning,
For baldness and for girding with sackcloth.
13 But instead, joy and gladness,
Slaying oxen and killing sheep,
Eating meat and drinking wine:
“Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”
Why do we read and study the Bible, the Word of God? Paul put it best when he wrote to Timothy:
2 Timothy 3:16-17
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,
17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
The Bible is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness, and for being equipped for every good work. It is not without reason that the Word of God is included with the armor of God that we must don every day: the Bible is the very “sword of the Spirit”! (Ephesians 6:10-20) That is pretty good equipment to have every day, wouldn’t you say? The Psalmist put it rather nicely here:
Psalms 119:97-104 (my emphasis)
97 Oh, how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
98 You, through Your commandments, make me WISER THAN MY ENEMIES;
For they are ever with me.
99 I have MORE UNDERSTANDING THAN ALL MY TEACHERS,
For Your testimonies are my meditation.
100 I UNDERSTAND MORE THAN THE ANCIENTS,
Because I keep Your precepts.
101 I have restrained my feet from every evil way,
That I may keep Your word.
102 I have not departed from Your judgments,
For You Yourself have taught me.
103 How sweet are Your words to my taste,
Sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 Through Your precepts I get UNDERSTANDING;
Therefore I hate every false way.
What do we get from God’s Word? We gain wisdom and understanding that is better than that of our enemies, our teachers, and even of the people of ancient times. And as David put it:
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
And in keeping them there is great reward.
So we read and keep Scripture for understanding the will and wisdom of God, for knowing His voice and being able to USE His Word against our adversaries. We read and study the prophets for those same reasons, so that we may know what is God’s will for our lives. We don’t study it to know the timing of God’s judgments, only to know that He WILL execute judgment and that we are given instruction in how to gain salvation.
When Isaiah prophesied over Jerusalem and Judah that they would fall and be taken into bondage, they responded the wrong way. When God called for repentance, they went on sinning. When God called for casting out the wickedness from their cities, they committed more wickedness. When God warned them of the coming destruction, they just waited for it. Rather than returning to their Creator who supplies the true Water of Life, they instead stockpiled what little earthly water they had. Rather than building cisterns in their hearts for the Holy Spirit, they built cisterns between the stony walls of the old city, thinking that would save them–or, at least, that it would let them live a little longer.
10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”
11 The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water?
12 “Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”
13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again,
14 “but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
The water of life supplied by Jesus Christ is the water that springs up in us “into everlasting life.” The ancient Jews missed that cue, misunderstood the reason for Isaiah’s prophecies.
Even today, there are many who misunderstand the reasons for prophecy. They take the words of prophecy as a reason for stocking up on their own earthly supplies, for withdrawing from society and retreating to secluded conclaves and communities to avoid the contamination of the secular world. But as we see from today’s verses, God didn’t call us to wait, nor did He call us to try to buy time with our own works.
15 “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.
16 “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
17 “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.
18 “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.
19 “And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.”
The woman who heard the words from Jesus about “living water” did not simply file them away in her heart and revel in her salvation. She ran and told the others in her village that the Messiah had come! Nor are we to simply take the truth of God’s Word and put it away in our hearts and then separate ourselves from the world. Nor are we to despair of ever knowing peace, nor go on living fruitless lives until we die and are called to judgment. On the contrary, we are called to action. We are called to revival. We are called not to build more cisterns nor to fortify the walls but to return to the Lord God who alone is mighty to save. We are called to look to the Maker of the water in our wells, the food in our storehouses, the stone in our walls, the bones and flesh of our bodies.
1 A Psalm of David.
The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell therein.
2 For He has founded it upon the seas,
And established it upon the waters.
3 Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD?
Or who may stand in His holy place?
4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol,
Nor sworn deceitfully.
5 He shall receive blessing from the LORD,
And righteousness from the God of his salvation.
6 This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him,
Who seek Your face. Selah
Our own works cannot save us, only the righteousness and grace of the Lord God. And that righteousness comes from only one source: Jesus Christ. We are called to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with all creatures, not to separate ourselves from all creatures. (Mark 16:15) We are called to make disciples of all nations, not to separate ourselves from them. (Matthew 28:19) We are called to share the love of Christ wherever we may be, to live such good lives among the unbelievers that they will glorify the Lord in the day of His return. (1 Peter 2:11-12) We are called to repent, not to simply await the day of judgment. (Mark 1:15) We are called to share the Word of God so that all may be instructed in doctrine, reproof, correction, righteousness, truth, and wisdom. (2 Timothy 4:1-2) We are called to keep the Word and allow it to keep us.
This day, as we study the Word and share it with others, let us not focus on the when and how of the coming judgment, but instead focus on the WHY. Let us call believers and unbelievers alike to repentance and action, call them to break from their wicked ways and hidden sins and seek the Lord God again. Let us stir ourselves and others to look to the Maker of the water of life, seeking His face and His salvation. Let us study and speak the prophecies of God to the world and pray that they are not prompted to more sin and despair, but given over to love and life and hope–the hope, indeed, of eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Holy Lord God, father and Maker of all, let me look to You alone for salvation and life. I fall upon Your mercy, and I accept the gracious gift of the water of life offered by Jesus Your Son. In Him I have all my righteousness, and because of Him I now stand and speak Your Word to all. Give me boldness to share Your Word with all and sundry, that the Word of God may not be lost in my heart but spread to the world as salt and light and hope. I look to You, O Lord, for all the water that any may need. Amen.