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Bible verses about Israel's Adultery
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Deuteronomy 12:1-5

Why did God give this instruction? Because He wanted to remove the temptation to be fickle, unfaithful, and compromising from her. He wanted to destroy everything that would be a temptation to her, so instead, He gives a warning that they are to seek only Him in His sole habitation, even in their homeland. He did this because Israel is terribly smitten with "the grass is always greener" disease. They even failed to dispossess the people of the land as God commanded them to do.

In its carnality, Israel is disastrously curious and inconstant in temperament, thinking that variety of experience rather than the truth of God's Word is the answer to the discontented, rebellious, unsettled impatience of her nature. This grossly fickle discontentment shows up very early in the history of God's relationship with Israel.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part 6)


 

Deuteronomy 12:1-5

The existence of this exhortation to seek Him only and destroy the worship of Canaan's inhabitants is strong evidence that God foresaw that Israel was thoroughly smitten with "the grass is always greener" disease. They failed both to dispossess the land's inhabitants and to destroy their places of worship. History records that God was right, and Israel is left without excuse for its spiritual adultery.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beast and Babylon (Part Six): The Woman's Character


 

Deuteronomy 26:16-19

Israel had been redeemed from Egypt, made a covenant with God, and been told their responsibility. God makes it very clear that the relationship between Him and man is a two-way affair. Upon us devolves the duty of complete consecration and willingness to obey. We are called to faithfulness to Him and to each other as reflected in our lives by our keeping of His commandments. God on His part grants us access to Him by which He ministers great blessings of His Spirit, giving us the means to be faithful.

Israel failed miserably, being guilty of all manner of faithlessness. So great was their faithlessness that God sundered the relationship. Perhaps nowhere is Israel's faithlessness shown more vividly than in Hosea 2:2-5.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Faithfulness


 

Psalm 78:56-57

A deceitful bow is one that gives every appearance of being good and true to its purpose until put to the test. In the pressure of battle, it fails to shoot arrows where the archer aims them.

This illustration is one of the many ways God describes His marriage relationship with Israel. He describes her in Ezekiel 16 as being like a beautiful woman, full of promise, who eagerly entered into marriage with Him, vowing to Him as she agreed to the covenant, "All that the LORD has said we will do and be obedient" (Exodus 24:7). However, under the tests of life, she did not behave like a faithful wife. She quickly broke her vows to be submissive to Him and Him only, unfaithfully behaving worse than a common street harlot (see Ezekiel 16:27-30)!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beast and Babylon (Part Six): The Woman's Character


 

Psalm 78:56-57

A deceitful bow is one that gives every appearance of being good and true to its purpose until put to the test. In the pressure of battle, it fails to shoot arrows where the archer aims them.

This illustration is one of the many ways God describes His marriage relationship with Israel. He describes her in Ezekiel 16 as being like a beautiful woman, full of promise, who eagerly entered into marriage with Him, vowing to Him as she agreed to the covenant, "All that the LORD has said we will do and be obedient" (Exodus 24:7). However, under the tests of life, she did not behave like a faithful wife. She quickly broke her vows to be submissive to Him and Him only, unfaithfully behaving worse than a common street harlot! Notice this description of their relationship in Ezekiel 16:27-30:

"Behold, therefore, I stretched out My hand against you, diminished your allotment, and gave you up to the will of those who hate you, the daughters of the Philistines, who were ashamed of your lewd behavior. You also played the harlot with the Assyrians, because you were insatiable; indeed you played the harlot with them and still were not satisfied. Moreover you multiplied your acts of harlotry as far as the land of the trader, Chaldea; and even then you were not satisfied. How degenerate is you heart!" says the Lord GOD, "seeing you do all these things, the deeds of a brazen harlot."

Israel's unbelief was the breeding ground for her capriciousness, and her insatiable curiosity and desire for variety continuously led her astray. In turn, this produced the mistrust and unreliability that characterized her relationship with God. We must not follow her example in this—our stakes are so much higher!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beast and Babylon (Part Seven): How Can Israel Be the Great Whore?


 

Jeremiah 2:9

The word "plead" almost sounds like God is down on His knees pleading with Israel to come back. However, this is not what He is doing. The word is much better translated "contend." "I will contend," because the setting here, beginning with verse 9, is a courtroom and God is the prosecuting attorney. He is bringing charges against His bride, His wife.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part 7)


 

Jeremiah 2:9-26

This passage is an intense survey of Judah's behavior in that period just before they went into captivity. In the next chapter God divorces Israel. This is like the final pleading or contention, the straw that broke the camel's back. The intensity of her drive to show disrespect for God is illustrated in the comparison of the dromedary and the wild ass in heat. Nobody can hold those female animals back when they are in heat! It is as if Israel was always in heat in order to commit adultery in departing from God.

We have to make the connection that we are called from a nation cut from the same cloth, and in us is the same potential for unbelieving stubbornness and fickleness, whose fruit is immature, irresponsible unfaithfulness to obligation. The wayward drive is actually in all of mankind, but Israel is more responsible than any other nation on earth because she has been given so much in the way of knowledge.

Satan has succeeded in deceiving the whole world. Among these deceptions is that modern Israel is Christian. But Israel has never been truly Christian. It presents a counterfeit to the world, and it has nonetheless spread its wine over the entire world, drugging it with its poor example, and inducing much to the world to follow.

This particular deception that Israel is Christian is dangerous to true church members since the vast majority of the people of God are in Israelitish nations, and it has the power to make us feel an affinity with Israel's brand of false Christianity. But that affinity might just lure us into producing the same tolerant, non-judgmental, politically correct, multi-cultural Laodiceanism commonly displayed in the Israelitish country. It hinders the separation from the world required of us by making us feel a lingering sense of oneness with Israel.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part 7)


 

Jeremiah 3:1-5

Jeremiah wrote this over 400 years after Israel's rejection of God as King and about 840 years after making the covenant at Mount Sinai. Even though by the time of this writing God had divorced the Great Harlot Israel, He still continued to have a fractious relationship with her in order to continue the outworking of His purpose and to fulfill His promises to Abraham, including all the end-time prophecies. In other words, He was not yet finished with Israel.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beast and Babylon (Part Eight): God, Israel, and the Bible


 

Jeremiah 3:8-10

God is speaking about the two nations, Israel and Judah. Israel had gone into captivity over a hundred years before Jeremiah came along. God is relating what Judah did after it saw that Israel had gone into captivity for its sins.

He uses marriage as an analogy of His relationship with His people—first with Israel and Judah and later with the church—in order to help us see clearly what is required of us. He calls Israel His wife, but Israel was not faithful in that the people committed idolatry. God considers this spiritual idolatry as being the same as, or similar to, the committing of adultery in a human marriage.

This is why He calls idolatry "adultery." It is unfaithfulness to a vow, a contract, a covenant, or an agreement. The two partners in the agreement, God and Israel, said, "I do" to be Husband and wife. God was faithful, upholding His part of that relationship, but Israel was unfaithful to those vows, committing adultery through idolatry, by worshiping other gods.

Notice how strong God's language is: He uses the word "treacherous." He calls Judah's unfaithfulness, her idolatry, her spiritual adultery "treachery." It is a word that is reserved for the most despicable breaches of trust. We do not like to use it even when speaking of adultery, so we soften it, using a euphemism like saying he or she "had an affair." God calls it what it is—treachery, an egregious violation of allegiance, of trust.

Whether a person is treacherous, that is, unfaithful, or whether he is faithful to his vows, both results have to be worked at, but the former comes easier than the latter because treachery follows the natural course of human nature. We have all done what Israel and Judea did through sin, alienating ourselves from Him.

God does with us individually as He was willing to do with Israel and Judea as nations. He says, "Yes, you've committed these unfaithful sins, but if you'll just return to Me, I'll still accept you as my wife." He is willing to forgive. The condition, however, is repentance—real change in attitude and behavior.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Love and Works


 

Jeremiah 5:1-3

Prophet after prophet records that Israel has trouble being faithful to anything: God, mate, country, employer, and contracts. Our national mind seems to be like quicksilver. As a people, Israelites are always trying to get the best for the self, willing to bend in any direction to obtain their pleasure. They really work at it. When we think of Jacob's deceitful ways in his early life, we can almost believe that this characteristic is in the genes, though it is not. It is a characteristic absorbed by yielding to a culture saturated with the spirit of harlotry.

Syndicated columnist Sidney J. Harris once wrote:

Most virtues exist on a sliding scale, all the way from excellence to ineptitude, and most of us are tolerably somewhere in the middle, without too much damage to ourselves or others. But there is one virtue that is all or nothing: and that is reliability. You are either reliable or you are not; and, if not, it doesn't much matter how nearly or how often you are reliable.

If I were an employer of any sort, I would be willing to put up with many kinds of personal or professional deficiencies, but never with this. A person who is not dependable is bound to fail you (and himself as well) at precisely the wrong time.

It reminds me of the debonair Viennese gentleman who, when asked, "Have you been faithful to your wife?" replied, "Frequently." It is plain that a man who is frequently faithful is not faithful at all; he might as well never be.

Reliability is one of the hardest character traits to identify by testing or "screening" or anything except personal acquaintance. Some people are "rocks" by nature or training, while others are papier-mâché painted to resemble rocks, who crumble when sudden pressure is applied by circumstances.

If you are married to someone who cannot be depended upon to pull his or her own weight, it hardly matters what other admirable traits your mate may possess, because you can never know when or where you will be let down. It is the same as being married to an alcoholic, who is only "there" part of the time—and usually not when most needed.

Consistency is what is required in the people we associate with: the confident knowledge of what we can rightfully expect of them, barring sudden illness or catastrophe beyond anyone's control. Otherwise, there is no real relationship, but only a shifting accommodation to the winds of caprice and self-indulgence.

It is easy to feel affection for another; what is harder is to translate this feeling into acts, daily acts, that demonstrate steadfastness of purpose in a domestic routine that may not be as dramatic as some heroic rescue, but that keeps the craft afloat no matter which way the wind happens to blow. The deepest and most important virtues are often the dullest ones; they win no medals, and get no glory; but they are the glue that binds society together and makes it work, now and always.

Men seem to be particularly irresponsible and ambivalent regarding sex, but with the unleashing of the feminist movement, women are rapidly catching up. In the July 28, 1978, Woman's Day magazine, an article revealed that 50-70% of all American men commit adultery at least once, while the Hite Report result was 66%. Yet, 67% of all husbands say that adultery is always wrong! The dichotomy between belief and practice is obvious. Clearly, they are confused: They feel it is wrong, but a large percentage is willing to do it if the opportunity presents itself!

This illustrates what God meant through the prophets. No wonder God calls us a faithless people! We are a self-seeking, opportunistic people who are willing to "bend" on principle, standard, tradition, or belief if we can see advantage for ourselves. Even if we can see that the "advantage" is at best short-term—and may even be very risky—we almost always seem to rise to the "bait."

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Seventh Commandment


 

Lamentations 1:1-7

Here, even before the woman symbol appears, the city is identified as female by feminine pronouns. It is more specifically designated as a widow, another female figure. Before the verse ends, it reflects back on an earlier time when she was a princess, another female figure, but now she is a slave.

In verse 3, the city morphs into Judah, the nation. Then in verse 4, an alternate name for Jerusalem, Zion, is used, and the female identity continues. In verse 6, the city becomes "the daughter of Zion." It is not until verse 7 that Jerusalem, the woman described throughout this context, is directly named. If one would read further, we would see that people have seen her nakedness, and her sin was in her skirts, referring to sins of idolatry, which God describes in sexual terms.

The New King James version uses feminine pronouns 28 times in those seven verses in reference to the entity variously called "a city," "Judah," "a widow," "the princess," "Zion, "the daughter of Zion," and "Jerusalem." Undoubtedly, a woman symbolizes a city, and city, a nation. Each of the female symbols depicts the same thing, Jerusalem and Judah, but from slightly different perspectives. Within this context, it is not depicting a church. Is there a parallel to the church in Lamentations? Yes, but it is indirect, imprecise, and at best secondary.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beast and Babylon (Part Four): Where Is the Woman of Revelation 17?


 

Ezekiel 6:9

"Idols" represent what she greatly desired and expended her efforts to possess. As the context shows, what she greatly desired God, her Husband, prohibited. These fickle lusts led Israel into relationships with ways of life other than God's. Her drive for the "excitement" of experiencing some new thing led her to make those other ways her ways. God labels this as adultery because she abandoned Him for them.

Usually what Israel chased after was outside the guidelines God gave in His commands. However, to her His commands always appeared to be denying her pleasure. Hosea, though the earliest of the prophets to connect spiritual idolatry to the sexual sin of adultery, was far from the last, as this verse in Ezekiel suggests.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beast and Babylon (Part Seven): How Can Israel Be the Great Whore?


 

Ezekiel 16:14-63

We are obviously dealing with a marriage relationship between God and Jerusalem, representing all of Israel. The woman Israel was not faithful, and harlotry entered the relationship. From verse 15 on, the marriage relationship described here, the harlotry, the fornication, and the adultery of the woman is either inferred or directly stated in virtually every verse in this long chapter. In one verse after another, God is telling how she committed harlotry and why.

The liberal Interpreter's Bible Commentary says, "Israel here is portrayed as a wife who became a pagan temple prostitute." That is a possibility, but I think the more conservative commentaries are more correct. She is portrayed as an unfaithful wife whose unfaithfulness is displayed in a far wider range of life and activities than just religious.

Israel—the nation and wife—is unfaithful in every area and activity of life that a faithful wife or nation would normally be involved in. The sexual orientation of what is written of her sin is used because sexual sins are the most common way unfaithfulness in marriage is shown to the public. It is something that everybody can relate to. However, the real spiritual sin behind all of these sexual terms is gross idolatry. Verse 59 says, "For thus says the Lord GOD; I will even deal with you as you have done, which have despised the oath in breaking the covenant." She broke the marriage covenant and became a harlot.

Israel simply did whatever she wanted to do, when she wanted to do it, and in the manner that she wanted. Her harlotry is clearly the breaking of the terms of the marriage covenant, and it is unfaithfulness, disloyalty, and spiritual in nature. It is primarily idolatry, but all other sins are included. Israel was unfaithful in conducting business, both domestically and internationally. Israel was unfaithful in managing God's great green earth; unfaithful in forgetting who her blessings came from; unfaithful in the way they treated one another in their personal marriages; unfaithful in their childrearing practices.

We all know that the relationship being described here is between God and Israel, and the marriage entered into was the Old Covenant proposed and ratified at Mount Sinai. What God proposed to Israel, and to us under the New Covenant, is an entire way of life. It is not just religion. It is everything that the church ought to be, the example and teacher of things that are right and true.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part 5)


 

Hosea 1:2

Hosea's dominant theme is Israel's faithlessness in contrast to God's patience, mercy, and faithfulness. The prophet is especially creative in metaphorically describing Israel's spiritual condition and relationship with God. He introduces two dominant ones in the book's second verse.

The primary metaphor is Israel as a faithless wife, and the second is Israel as a child of adultery or faithlessness. A child is the fruit or product of a relationship. Hosea implies that Israel, as a child of an adulterous relationship, manifests its characteristics because the next generation tends to continue the traits of the former and perhaps even increase their effects. A primary characteristic of adultery is faithlessness.

In the first metaphor, God is a faithful husband, and in the second, a loving and long-suffering parent. Israel is faithless in carrying out her responsibilities in both cases. God bluntly calls her actions adultery, harlotry, or whoredom because she did not fulfill the duties she had promised in a contract, a covenant. In more intimate terms, this contract is a marriage.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Seventh Commandment (1997)


 

Hosea 1:2

The book of Hosea's dominant theme is Israel's faithlessness. Hosea is especially creative in his use of metaphors to describe the relationship between Israel and God, but the two dominant ones are suggested in this verse. The primary one is Israel as a faithless wife, and the secondary one is Israel as a rebellious child (rebelling against God's law). Harlotry indicates sexual wantonness. If the person committing harlotry were married, it would suggest extreme faithlessness to his or her vows of marriage. In a spiritual covenant relationship with God, however, it indicates idolatry.

In tandem with the metaphors regarding Israel, the prophet uses two main family-relationship themes. In the first, God is shown as a faithful Husband, and in the second, as a loving and longsuffering Parent. In each case, Israel is faithless in carrying out responsibilities within the relationship, which God calls adultery and harlotry. God's judgment was occasioned by Israel departing from duties agreed to in a contract, the Covenant.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Seventh Commandment


 

Hosea 2:2-7

Israel is seen as faithless wife and irresponsible mother—so faithless that she chases after her lovers! A spirit of harlotry, an attitude of faithlessness, was created in the whole nation, causing many detrimental ramifications and results. In other words, the deceit and its resulting infidelity are not confined to the God/Israel covenant marriage but affects personal relationships within families and the community. It even has a negative effect on the keeping of contracts in business and upholding promises of quality workmanship.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Seventh Commandment


 

Hosea 7:5-7

Faithlessness is tearing the country apart! These verses show that the nation's leaders are glad these things are occurring because it gives them an excuse for their actions! Besides, they are prospering as a result! Politicians, doctors, lawyers, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, pornographers, booksellers, movie makers, and others are prospering from this faithless, adulterous society.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Seventh Commandment (1997)


 

Amos 3:12

Amos refers to part of the Old Covenant: "If it is torn to pieces by an animal, then he shall bring it as evidence, and he shall not make good what was torn" (Exodus 22:13). If a lamb was stolen from the flock, the shepherd had to repay the owner for it. If a lamb was attacked and devoured by a beast, however, he had to bring proof that he had not stolen it himself. He had to show evidence that what had previously existed had been destroyed.

Whenever Israel is destroyed, the evidence of her demise will not be a leg or part of an ear, but bits of furniture like couches and beds. When others look for proof of this great nation's fate, they will find all the accouterments of opulence, luxury, self-indulgence, indolence—products of their self-concern and self-satisfaction. But they will find no effects of godly spirituality—righteousness, justice, and mercy.

The illustration of the bed and couch may be an ironic reference to Israelite sexual exploits with temple prostitutes and other ritual sexual practices (Isaiah 57:3-9). Additionally, God shows Israel committing spiritual adultery by trusting in other nations rather than God (Isaiah 31:1-3), and the destroyed bed and couch would depict His destruction of the nation for her unfaithfulness.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prepare to Meet Your God! (The Book of Amos) (Part Two)


 

 




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