Life-Study of Jeremiah and Lamentations, by Witness Lee

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In Jeremiah 2:13 we have the first crucial matter in this book concerning God’s economy. In this verse God, through the prophet, presents Himself to the children of Israel as a fountain of living waters. In principle, God did the same thing in Genesis 2, after the creation of man. God did not say to man, "You must know that I am your Creator. Remember that you are My creature and that you should be holy and loving, just as I am." Instead of giving such a charge to man, God placed him in a garden, in front of two trees—the tree of life, which signifies God, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which signifies Satan (Gen. 2:9). Then God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (vv. 16-17). This indicates that God wanted man to partake of Himself as signified by the tree of life. Immediately after the first mention of the tree of life, we are told that "a river went out of Eden to water the garden" (v. 10). It is significant that the last chapter of the Bible also speaks of the tree of life and the river of water of life (Rev. 22:1-2).

The picture in Genesis 2 of the tree of life and the river indicates that God is both the tree of life and the living water for man’s existence. What God desires of man is that man would eat of Him as the tree of life and drink of Him as the water of life. Through our eating and drinking of Him, God is able to dispense Himself into us as our life and our life supply.


As I have been carrying out the life-study of the Scriptures, I have sometimes pointed out that the particular book we were studying is an abstract of the Bible. The reason I say this is that all the books of the Bible are concerned with the same thing. Thus, now I wish to say about Jeremiah what I have said about other books: The book of Jeremiah is an abstract of the entire Bible. We have already seen that the book of Jeremiah is an abstract of the Bible in the sense that it presents God as the fountain of living waters. Let us now go on to consider another way in which this book is an abstract of the Scriptures.

In Genesis 3 the devil appeared in the form of a serpent, and both Adam and Eve were seduced by him to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In Jeremiah the serpent also comes in to distract God’s people from the tree of life to the tree of knowledge. Jeremiah 2:13 says, "My people have committed two evils: / They have forsaken Me, / The fountain of living waters, / To hew out for themselves cisterns, / Broken cisterns, / Which hold no water." This tells us that Israel had been distracted from the tree of life to the tree of knowledge, from the fountain of living waters to the idols (the cisterns). The children of Israel might have said, "We are not worshipping idols—we are hewing out cisterns." They did not realize, however, that by hewing out cisterns they were turning to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. My point here is that in Jeremiah we can see the two trees. Chapters two through ten show us the same two trees that were in Genesis 2. In these chapters of Jeremiah, God seemed to be saying, "Foolish people! Why do you not come to Me? Why do you not partake of Me as the tree of life? Why do you go to the other tree, to the idols?" By turning to the other tree, Israel had forsaken God and His law.

(Life-Study of Jeremiah and Lamentations, Chapter 12, by Witness Lee)