Eph 5:31-32 (NIV) "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery--but I am talking about Christ and the church.
God uses a strong human urge, sex, to describe His relationship with us. Israel is "the Wife" of Jehovah. We, the church, are called "the Bride" of Christ. Most Christians understand that Scripture uses sexual desire to represent the longing and excitement God feels for us, and we should feel for Him. But do we see how God also uses sexual imagery to describe how we "whore" after false religions, worldly "wisdom", and the idols of this world?
James 4:4-5 (Phi) You are like unfaithful wives... never realizing that to be the world's lover means becoming the enemy of God! Anyone who deliberately chooses to be the world's friend is thereby making himself God's enemy. Or do you think what the Scriptures have to say about this is a mere formality?
Do we recognize how intense the desire is within us to chase after the latest religious fad, to believe comforting lies, to embrace the world? Scripture uses sexual imagery to show how strong our passions are for these things. God is a jealous God; we are His; and He takes a dim view of our "horneyness" to fellowship with lies, sophistries, and the world. The word of God, the truth--even if painful--will set us free. Brace yourself.
Eze 16:30 (NIV) "How weak-willed you are, declares the Sovereign Lord, when you do all these things, acting like a brazen prostitute!"
When adultery and prostitution are applied to Israel, Babylon, etc., clearly it is the symbolic / spiritual sense. But because the images are so shocking and descriptive, it may take some effort not to miss the point by getting caught up in the "lurid" aspect of these texts. Please keep in mind that except where referring to specific people, adultery is being used in the spiritual, figurative sense in these studies.
Jer 2:20 (NIV) "Long ago you broke off your yoke and tore off your bonds; you said, 'I will not serve you!' Indeed, on every high hill and under every spreading tree you lay down as a prostitute."
While much of God's revelation is on this subject, the following verses should make the point that God is serious about us being loyal to Him with our affections, and Scripture uses the strongest, most graphic language to warn us not to "play the harlot".
The Truth About Us, Revealed By God
Jer 3:1-3 (NIV, all, except where noted) "If a man divorces his wife and she leaves him and marries another man, should he return to her again? Would not the land be completely defiled? But you have lived as a prostitute with many lovers--would you now return to me?" declares the Lord. "Look up to the barren heights and see. Is there any place where you have not been ravished? By the roadside you sat waiting for lovers, sat like a nomad in the desert. You have defiled the land with your prostitution and wickedness... Yet you have the brazen look of a prostitute; you refuse to blush with shame."
Jer 3:6-10 ..."Have you seen what faithless Israel has done? She has gone up on every high hill and under every spreading tree and has committed adultery there. I thought that after she had done all this she would return to me but she did not, and her unfaithful sister Judah saw it. I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries. Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Judah had no fear; she also went out and committed adultery. Because Israel's immorality mattered so little to her, she defiled the land and committed adultery with stone and wood. In spite of all this, her unfaithful sister Judah did not return to me with all her heart, but only in pretense," declares the Lord.
Looking For Someone Who Loves The Truth
Jer 5:1-6 "Go up and down the streets... If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, I will forgive this city..." O Lord, do not your eyes look for truth?... You crushed them, but they refused correction. They made their faces harder than stone and refused to repent. I thought, "These are only the poor; they are foolish, for they do not know the way of the Lord, the requirements of their God. So I will go to the leaders and speak to them; surely they know the way of the Lord, the requirements of their God." But with one accord they too had broken off the yoke and torn off the bonds... their rebellion is great and their backslidings many.
Jer 5:7-13 "Why should I forgive you? Your children have forsaken me and sworn by gods that are not gods. I supplied all their needs, yet they committed adultery and thronged to the houses of prostitutes. They are well-fed, lusty stallions, each neighing for another man's wife. Should I not punish them for this?" declares the Lord. "Should I not avenge myself on such a nation as this? Go through her vineyards and ravage them, but do not destroy them completely. Strip off her branches, for these people do not belong to the Lord. The house of Israel and the house of Judah have been utterly unfaithful to me," declares the Lord. They have lied about the Lord; they said, "He will do nothing! No harm will come to us; we will never see sword or famine." The prophets are but wind and the word is not in them; so let what they say be done to them.
False Religion Is Worthless; Our Shame Will Be Exposed
Jer 7:8-11 But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless. "Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, 'We are safe'--safe to do all these detestable things? Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the Lord."
Jer 9:2-3 ...For they are all adulterers, a crowd of unfaithful people. "They make ready their tongue like a bow, to shoot lies; it is not by truth that they triumph in the land. They go from one sin to another; they do not acknowledge me," declares the Lord.
Jer 13:22-27 "And if you ask yourself, 'Why has this happened to me?'--it is because of your many sins that your skirts have been torn off and your body mistreated. Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil. I will scatter you like chaff driven by the desert wind. This is your lot, the portion I have decreed for you," declares the Lord, "because you have forgotten me and trusted in false gods. I will pull up your skirts over your face that your shame may be seen--your adulteries and lustful neighings, your shameless prostitution! I have seen your detestable acts on the hills and in the fields. Woe to you, O Jerusalem! How long will you be unclean?"
The following two "parables" should be as well known as any in Scripture, but few have even read them. They are the big-picture story of God's relationship to man in history.
Parable 1: The Adopted Prostitute
Eze 16:1-5 The word of the Lord came to me: "Son of man, confront Jerusalem with her detestable practices and say, 'This is what the Sovereign Lord says to Jerusalem... On the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to make you clean, nor were you rubbed with salt or wrapped in cloths. No one looked on you with pity or had compassion enough to do any of these things for you. Rather, you were thrown out into the open field, for on the day you were born you were despised.'"
Eze 16:6-8 "Then I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, 'Live!' I made you grow like a plant of the field. You grew up and developed and became the most beautiful of jewels. Your breasts were formed and your hair grew, you who were naked and bare. Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign Lord, and you became mine."
Eze 16:9-14 "I bathed you with water and washed the blood from you and put ointments on you. I clothed you with an embroidered dress and put leather sandals on you. I dressed you in fine linen and covered you with costly garments. I adorned you with jewelry: I put bracelets on your arms and a necklace around your neck, and I put a ring on your nose, earrings on your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. So you were adorned with gold and silver; your clothes were of fine linen and costly fabric and embroidered cloth. Your food was fine flour, honey and olive oil. You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen. And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign Lord."
Eze 16:15-17 "But you trusted in your beauty and used your fame to become a prostitute. You lavished your favors on anyone who passed by and your beauty became his. You took some of your garments to make gaudy high places, where you carried on your prostitution. Such things should not happen, nor should they ever occur. You also took the fine jewelry I gave you, the jewelry made of my gold and silver, and you made for yourself male idols and engaged in prostitution with them."
Eze 16:22,25-26,28-30 "In all your detestable practices and your prostitution you did not remember the days of your youth, when you were naked and bare, kicking about in your blood. Woe! Woe to you, declares the Sovereign Lord... At the head of every street you built your lofty shrines and degraded your beauty, offering your body with increasing promiscuity to anyone who passed by. You engaged in prostitution with the Egyptians, your lustful neighbors, and provoked me to anger with your increasing promiscuity... You engaged in prostitution with the Assyrians too, because you were insatiable; and even after that, you still were not satisfied. Then you increased your promiscuity to include Babylonia, a land of merchants, but even with this you were not satisfied. How weak-willed you are, declares the Sovereign Lord, when you do all these things, acting like a brazen prostitute!"
Eze 16:25 (NAS) "...you spread your legs to every passer-by to multiply your harlotry."
Worse Than A Prostitute, WE PAY For This Abuse!
Eze 16:31-34 "...You were unlike a prostitute, because you scorned payment. You adulterous wife! You prefer strangers to your own husband! Every prostitute receives a fee, but you give gifts to all your lovers, bribing them to come to you from everywhere for your illicit favors. So in your prostitution you are the opposite of others; no one runs after you for your favors. You are the very opposite, for you give payment and none is given to you."
Eze 16:35-41 "Therefore, you prostitute, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because you poured out your wealth and exposed your nakedness in your promiscuity with your lovers, and because of all your detestable idols... therefore I am going to gather all your lovers, with whom you found pleasure, those you loved as well as those you hated. I will gather them against you from all around and will strip you in front of them, and they will see all your nakedness. I will sentence you to the punishment of women who commit adultery... I will bring upon you the blood vengeance of my wrath and jealous anger. Then I will hand you over to your lovers... They will strip you of your clothes and take your fine jewelry and leave you naked and bare. They will bring a mob against you, who will stone you and hack you to pieces with their swords. They will burn down your houses and inflict punishment on you in the sight of many women. I will put a stop to your prostitution, and you will no longer pay your lovers."
Eze 16:42-43,47 "Then my wrath against you will subside and my jealous anger will turn away from you; I will be calm and no longer angry. Because you did not remember the days of your youth but enraged me with all these things, I will surely bring down on your head what you have done, declares the Sovereign Lord. Did you not add lewdness to all your other detestable practices?... You not only walked in their ways and copied their detestable practices, but in all your ways you soon became more depraved than they."
Eze 16:58-60,62-63 "You will bear the consequences of your lewdness and your detestable practices, declares the Lord. This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will deal with you as you deserve, because you have despised my oath by breaking the covenant. Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you... So I will establish my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the Lord. Then, when I make atonement for you for all you have done, you will remember and be ashamed and never again open your mouth because of your humiliation, declares the Sovereign Lord."
Parable 2: Oholah and Oholibah
Eze 23:1-7 The word of the Lord came to me: "Son of man, there were two women, daughters of the same mother. They became prostitutes in Egypt, engaging in prostitution from their youth. In that land their breasts were fondled and their virgin bosoms caressed. The older was named Oholah, and her sister was Oholibah. They were mine and gave birth to sons and daughters. Oholah is Samaria, and Oholibah is Jerusalem. Oholah engaged in prostitution while she was still mine; and she lusted after her lovers, the Assyrians--warriors clothed in blue, governors and commanders, all of them handsome young men, and mounted horsemen. She gave herself as a prostitute to all the elite of the Assyrians and defiled herself with all the idols of everyone she lusted after."
Eze 23:8-13 "She did not give up the prostitution she began in Egypt, when during her youth men slept with her, caressed her virgin bosom and poured out their lust upon her. Therefore I handed her over to her lovers, the Assyrians, for whom she lusted. They stripped her naked, took away her sons and daughters and killed her with the sword. She became a byword among women, and punishment was inflicted on her. Her sister Oholibah saw this, yet in her lust and prostitution she was more depraved than her sister. She too lusted after the Assyrians--governors and commanders, warriors in full dress, mounted horsemen, all handsome young men. I saw that she too defiled herself; both of them went the same way."
Eze 23:17-20 "Then the Babylonians came to her, to the bed of love, and in their lust they defiled her. After she had been defiled by them, she turned away from them in disgust. When she carried on her prostitution openly and exposed her nakedness, I turned away from her in disgust, just as I had turned away from her sister. Yet she became more and more promiscuous as she recalled the days of her youth, when she was a prostitute in Egypt. There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses."
Eze 23:21-23,25-27 "So you longed for the lewdness of your youth, when in Egypt your bosom was caressed and your young breasts fondled. Therefore, Oholibah, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will stir up your lovers against you, those you turned away from in disgust, and I will bring them against you from every side... handsome young men, all of them governors and commanders, chariot officers and men of high rank, all mounted on horses... I will direct my jealous anger against you, and they will deal with you in fury. They will cut off your noses and your ears, and those of you who are left will fall by the sword... They will also strip you of your clothes and take your fine jewelry. So I will put a stop to the lewdness and prostitution you began in Egypt. You will not look on these things with longing or remember Egypt anymore."
Eze 23:28-31,34 "For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am about to hand you over to those you hate, to those you turned away from in disgust. They will deal with you in hatred and take away everything you have worked for. They will leave you naked and bare, and the shame of your prostitution will be exposed. Your lewdness and promiscuity have brought this upon you, because you lusted after the nations and defiled yourself with their idols. You have gone the way of your sister; so I will put her cup into your hand... You will drink it and drain it dry; you will dash it to pieces and tear your breasts. I have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord."
Eze 23:35-37 "Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Since you have forgotten me and thrust me behind your back, you must bear the consequences of your lewdness and prostitution." The Lord said to me: "Son of man, will you judge Oholah and Oholibah? Then confront them with their detestable practices, for they have committed adultery... They committed adultery with their idols..."
Eze 23:40-41,43-44 "They even sent messengers for men who came from far away, and when they arrived you bathed yourself for them, painted your eyes and put on your jewelry. You sat on an elegant couch, with a table spread before it on which you had placed the incense and oil that belonged to me... Then I said about the one worn out by adultery, 'Now let them use her as a prostitute, for that is all she is.' And they slept with her. As men sleep with a prostitute, so they slept with those lewd women, Oholah and Oholibah."
Eze 23:46-49 "This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Bring a mob against them and give them over to terror and plunder. The mob will stone them and cut them down with their swords; they will kill their sons and daughters and burn down their houses. So I will put an end to lewdness in the land, that all women may take warning and not imitate you. You will suffer the penalty for your lewdness and bear the consequences of your sins of idolatry. Then you will know that I am the Sovereign Lord."
Hosea Lives Out The Painful Truth About Us
Hosea 1:2 When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, "Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the Lord."
Hosea 3:1-3 The Lord said to me, "Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods..." So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver... Then I told her, "You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will live with you."
Hosea 7:11-13 "Ephraim is like a dove, easily deceived and senseless--now calling to Egypt, now turning to Assyria. When they go, I will throw my net over them; I will pull them down like birds of the air. When I hear them flocking together, I will catch them. Woe to them, because they have strayed from me! Destruction to them, because they have rebelled against me! I long to redeem them but they speak lies against me."
Hosea 4:10-12 "...They will engage in prostitution but not increase, because they have deserted the Lord to give themselves to prostitution... They consult a wooden idol and are answered by a stick of wood. A spirit of prostitution leads them astray; they are unfaithful to their God."
Hosea 7:4,6-7 "They are all adulterers, burning like an oven whose fire the baker need not stir from the kneading of the dough till it rises... Their hearts are like an oven; they approach him with intrigue. Their passion smolders all night; in the morning it blazes like a flaming fire. All of them are hot as an oven... and none of them calls on me.'"
Hosea 2:2-3,5-7 "...Let her remove the adulterous look from her face and the unfaithfulness from between her breasts. Otherwise I will strip her naked and make her as bare as on the day she was born; I will make her like a desert, turn her into a parched land, and slay her with thirst... She said, 'I will go after my lovers, who give me my food and my water...' She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them. Then she will say, 'I will go back to my husband as at first, for then I was better off than now.'"
Hosea 2:8-10,13 "She has not acknowledged that I was the one who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil, who lavished on her the silver and gold--which they used for Baal. Therefore I will take away my grain when it ripens, and my new wine when it is ready. I will take back my wool and my linen, intended to cover her nakedness. So now I will expose her lewdness before the eyes of her lovers; no one will take her out of my hands... I will punish her for the days she burned incense to the Baals; she decked herself with rings and jewelry, and went after her lovers, but me she forgot," declares the Lord.
Hosea 2:14-17,19-20,23 "Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt. In that day," declares the Lord, "you will call me 'my husband'; you will no longer call me 'my master.' I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips; no longer will their names be invoked... I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord... I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called 'Not my loved one. ' I will say to those called 'Not my people, ' 'You are my people'; and they will say, 'You are my God.'"
See also Jer 3:11-4:4 for encouragement to repent from spiritual adultery.
Christ Is Returning For A Pure, Spotless Bride. Will You Be Part?
Mat 16:4 "A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah." Jesus then left them and went away.
Mark 8:38 "If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."
Rev 19:7 "Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready."