WELLS WITHOUT WATER, CLOUDS WITHOUT RAIN
2 Peter 2:17 These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever.
We all have read fictional, as well as first-person, accounts of individuals being lost or stranded in deserts. It is difficult to imagine the thirst they experience, and describe, as they try to find their way out of hot, arid lands. Some described seeing mirages that appeared to be oases, having trees offering shade, and water to satisfy the thirst. They would keep plodding and crawling toward these mirages only to have them remain in the distance. As this continued, they would finally realize they were only delusions - optical illusions caused by the reflection of light through layers of air having different temperatures and densities. How real they looked; how great the anticipated satisfaction they offered; yet how sad, dejected, and unsatisfying was the end result.
Similar stories can be told of wells without water, and clouds that are carried with a tempest. With these as examples, Peter continues his lengthy message warning us against false teachers. How is a well without water comparable to a false teacher? Just as the mirage of a desert is void of life giving water, so are wells that are dry. Due to the arid conditions in most parts of biblical lands, many wells were dug to provide water for individuals, as well as their animals. Those that journeyed through the land generally had free access to these wells. There could be nothing more disappointing to a thirsty traveler than to see a well in the distance, and anticipate the refreshing satisfaction of its water, only to find it empty. The true purpose of the well was to provide water to quench one's thirst. Without water, a well has no purpose and is useless. False teachers appear to offer symbolic water that will refresh and save one's soul, however their wells are spiritually dry because their message is not the will of God. It is their own human will containing a "religious" doctrine that is as spiritually unsatisfying as wells without water.
Clouds that are carried by a tempest are clouds that give the appearance of a coming rain that will refresh the earth, refill cisterns, and replenish rivers and streams that water the land. However, it is an extreme disappointment to those anticipating rain, to see clouds gather, only to be carried off by prevailing winds. These clouds seem to vanish without providing the much-needed rains that sustain both plant and animal life here on earth. A cloud that appears and vanishes, though it may be beautiful to behold, does not serve its true purpose of watering the earth. These, too, are like false teachers. They are clouds without water. They appear to offer rains that satisfy the spiritual thirst of mankind, but are carried away. They disappear once their covetous desire is satisfied by the financial support of their audiences.
Just as water is needed to sustain our physical bodies, our souls need the water of life to sustain our spiritual bodies. Empty wells and clouds without rain do not provide water. Without water, the body dies. Like wells without water and clouds without rain, the message of the false teacher does not provide God's word, and its truths that teach eternal salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ. God's word says, I Jesus have sent Mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely (Rev. 22:16-17).
Jesus is the source of the water of life. It is the same living water that offers everlasting life - thewater of life Jesus offered the woman of Samaria at Jacob's well. Her response to Jesus was, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not(See John 4:7-26). This is the universal cry of all seeking eternal life. All would take the water of life, when offered. However, as Peter warns in this lesson, most people seek the water of life from the wrong source. They look to false teachers for guidance - teachers that appear to be the source of God's word, but are like empty wells and fleeting clouds, who mislead their followers into believing they contain the water of life.
Christians beware. The world is filled with false preachers and teachers that, in order to satisfy their own covetous desires, appear to offer spiritual guidance, but whose message alters God's word by adding to it and subtracting from it, making it as useless as wells without water and clouds without rain.