“When I would heal Israel,
the iniquity of Ephraim is revealed,
and the evil deeds of Samaria;
for they deal falsely;
the thief breaks in,
and the bandits raid outside.
But they do not consider
that I remember all their evil.
Now their deeds surround them;
they are before my face.
By their evil they make the king glad,
and the princes by their treachery.
They are all adulterers;
they are like a heated oven
whose baker ceases to stir the fire,
from the kneading of the dough
until it is leavened.
On the day of our king, the princes
became sick with the heat of wine;
he stretched out his hand with mockers.
For with hearts like an oven they approach their intrigue;
all night their anger smolders;
in the morning it blazes like a flaming fire.
All of them are hot as an oven,
and they devour their rulers.
All their kings have fallen,
and none of them calls upon Me.”
“In the house of Israel I have seen a horrible thing;
Ephraim’s whoredom is there; Israel is defiled.”
Adultery in Hebrew is na’aph (נָאַף). Believe it or not, this word really has nothing to do with sexuality. Its about something much deeper. It’s about breaking covenant.
Every time we sin (violate God’s purpose), we break covenant with God. What that means is, with every violation we make of any one of other the Ten Commandments, by default we also violate Commandment Seven:
“And you shall not commit adultery.”
One could actually read the verse this way:
“And you shall not break covenant.”
Na’aph occurs 46 times in scripture. In every case, it refers to a state of the heart, not a physical act. It is used to describe one’s ignoring of an exclusive relational bond or connection they have with another person, and such a violation is not something which God takes lightly. In fact, na’aph describes the very essence of our fall. It characterizes our breaking of the relational tie we had with God prior to Adam’s sin. And, yes, I do mean “our” (Rom 5:12).
When Ephraim no longer called on God, Hosea described it as “whoredom”. Throughout scripture, sexual imagery is used to bring out the severity of covenant breaking with God.
2 Chronicles 21:11-16
“Moreover, he made high places in the hill country of Judah and led the inhabitants of Jerusalem into whoredom and made Judah go astray. And a letter came to him from Elijah the prophet, saying, “Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father, Because you have not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat your father, or in the ways of Asa king of Judah, but have walked in the way of the kings of Israel and have enticed Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem into whoredom, as the house of Ahab led Israel into whoredom, and also you have killed your brothers, of your father’s house, who were better than you, behold, the Lord will bring a great plague on your people, your children, your wives, and all your possessions, and you yourself will have a severe sickness with a disease of your bowels, until your bowels come out because of the disease, day by day.’” And the Lord stirred up against Jehoram the anger of the Philistines and of the Arabians who are near the Ethiopians.”
Matthew recorded God’s revelation of where adultery is birthed: the heart. Jesus (who is God), got to the core of what Commandment Seven was really about when He taught the disciples and the crowds in the “Sermon in the Mount”:
“You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.”
Breaking covenant is not something to be matter of fact about. It is the highest order of transgression, one which requires the analogy of actually removing body parts in order to avoid it. The Gospel, however, is good news for those who are concerned about their committing of such a violation.
Because, the Gospel provides the sole solution to adultery. It supplies the only way of reconciliation for us (the adulterer) and God. It is the lone means of mending our broken covenant with Him, which we are absolutely unable to contribute to fixing. In other words, we are only able to break our relationship with God. Until Christ returns, we must continually recognize such and repent.
The beauty of the Gospel is that it reveals that it is solely God who keeps the covenant; EXCLUSIVELY for those who mournfully recognize their inability to keep such, and for those who also trust in Him (Jesus Christ) to keep it for them. Psalm 89, expresses the essence of what God has done on behalf of those who understand what they have broken and CANNOT fix (Romans 8:7-8), and who also depend on Him for mending it and maintaining that mending… forever.
Does it mean that we (Christians) avoid correction from God when we transgress the covenant we have with Him? No. But, it does mean that even when we do commit adultery, we still remain in covenant with Him, because He keeps it for us.
“My faithfulness and My steadfast love shall be with him,
and in My name shall his horn be exalted.
I will set his hand on the sea
and his right hand on the rivers.
He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father,
my God, and the Rock of my salvation.’
And I will make him the firstborn,
the highest of the kings of the earth.
My steadfast love I will keep for him forever,
and My covenant will stand firm for him.
I will establish his offspring forever
and his throne as the days of the heavens.
If his children forsake My law
and do not walk according to My rules,
if they violate My statutes
and do not keep My commandments,
then I will punish their transgression with the rod
and their iniquity with stripes,
but I will not remove from him My steadfast love
or be false to My faithfulness.
I will not violate My covenant
or alter the word that went forth from My lips.”
Only God can keep a covenant. Such should give us (Christians)… rest.
Godspeed, to the brethren!
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