The command to refrain from adultery is about much more than marriage

You shall not commit adultery.

Exodus 20:14

While the command to ancient Israel was focused on ensuring that men would remain faithful in marriage, the term was equally used of spiritual adultery; i.e., the apostasy or turning from the one true God to idols. The emphasis is the same in both applications.

Psalm 106:39 They defiled themselves by their evil deeds, and their love of idols was adultery in the LORD’s sight.

As always, Yeshua sharpened the understanding of this command when he broadened its context within the bounds of marital faithfulness.

“You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Matthew 5:27-28

The meaning is clear: be faithful to your spouse at all times, and don’t even think about others lustfully in your heart. If a man was to maintain purity of heart by not even straying with his eyes or his thoughts, his actions would remain faithful and pure with his wife.

The spiritual aspect of adultery was consistently brought to Israel’s attention throughout their history. As they would fall into the idolatry of the nations around them, God would raise up a prophet to admonish them to return to the purity of their faith in him.

Isaiah 57:7 You have committed adultery on every high mountain. There you have worshiped idols and have been unfaithful to me.

Jeremiah 3:2, 6, 9 “Look at the shrines on every hilltop. Is there any place you have not been defiled by your adultery with other gods? You sit like a prostitute beside the road waiting for a customer. You sit alone like a nomad in the desert. You have polluted the land with your prostitution and your wickedness. … During the reign of King Josiah, the LORD said to me, “Have you seen what fickle Israel has done? Like a wife who commits adultery, Israel has worshiped other gods on every hill and under every green tree. … Israel treated it all so lightly–she thought nothing of committing adultery by worshiping idols made of wood and stone. So now the land has been polluted.

Jeremiah 13:27 NLT – I have seen your adultery and lust, and your disgusting idol worship out in the fields and on the hills. What sorrow awaits you, Jerusalem! How long before you are pure?”

The kingdom of God, represented by natural Israel, was allegorically considered God’s bride, and when they strayed from their worship of him to the idolatry of the nations around them, God viewed it as a form of adultery.

In the kingdom of God today, by applying the same principles that Yeshua commands regarding natural adultery, we can see that if we keep our eyes and our hearts focused on the one true God, we will not stray into the idolatry and spiritual adultery of the nations around us.

If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here. Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

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