Be appalled, O heavens, at this: be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares YHWH, for my people have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water (Jeremiah 2:12f, cf. Jeremiah 17:13)
Jesus said to her, “…The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13f)
Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'” Now he said this about the Spirit… (John 7:37ff)
Today I’m continuing to ponder this theme of living water in Scripture (see my poem from last Sunday
). Above are some quotes concerning this theme. Given the quote of the prophet Jeremiah, Jesus is identifying Himself as YHWH (LORD). Moreover, the apostle John identifies the living water as the Holy Spirit. This puts an interesting twist on John 1:33 where John the Baptist says that God sent him to baptize with water and that Jesus is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. In other words, John the Baptist baptized with water and Jesus baptizes with living water. Then when Jesus tells Nicodemus that one must be born of water and Spirit to enter the kingdom of God (John 3:5) it invites the debate as to the relationship between water and Spirit in this construction. The Reformer John Calvin argued that water and Spirit are the same in said verse in the same way as passages that speak of the Spirit and fire (Matt 3:11, Luke 3:16). He said that it is not as if “fire” somehow adds something different than the Spirit. Instead, fire expresses the power of the Spirit. Thus in John the metaphor of water is explained by the word Spirit and the metaphor encourages reflection on the cleansing that the Spirit does.
Also worth exploring is the connection of the “well of living water, and flowing streams” in Song of Songs 4:15, the “living water” that shall come forth from Jerusalem in Zechariah 14:8, and the “springs of living water” in Revelation 7:17. The quote in the Song looks like it refers to the bride, which encourages appreciating the Song as a song about Christ and His bride, the church. Furthermore, what verse did Jesus have in mind in John 7? Isaiah 12:3 mentions “the wells of salvation.” Proverbs 18:4 says, “The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook” (the old Geneva Bible rendered this “bubbling brook” as “flowing riuer [sic]”). The LXX version of the verse says something to the effect of “a word in the heart of a man is a deep water and a river and spring forth a fountain of life.” Thus apparently the LXX of Proverbs 18:4 was behind the language of the quote in John 7.
Jeremiah says that the choice is clear: drink sand or drink from the fountain of living waters.