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THE PUNISHMENT FOR ADULTERY

Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery Alessandro Turchi, c. 1620s
Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery | Alessandro Turchi, c. 1620s

We will complete our study of Jeremiah 2 this week, where the images for idolatry are so sexual, that translators are bashful about translating  literally. Idolatry is adultery, is, “getting into bed with other lovers.” So of course we grieve and push away the Spirit of God.

All week long let us be alert to our “Shy Lover,” and open ourselves to Him when He comes. He may quicken your Spirit through His Word. When that happens, slow down and worship. He may speak to you through artwork. Contemplate this week’s painting, look at the passage from John 8, and if He quickens you, slow down and let it lead you into contemplative prayer. He may speak to you through gifts, as He did with Anne when she was at the farmer’s market – with a bag full of beautiful peaches for $2 – slow down and lift your arms in thanks. He may speak to you through music — take times of quiet and of music, so He may come. He may speak to you through suffering, as He comes to comfort and speak His promises to your soul. Slow down, and walk with Him. Tell us how He came to you and how you responded.

ICEBREAKER:

1. Meditate on the painting, the emotions portrayed. How does it speak to you? (Based on John 8:1-11)

BIBLE STUDY

2. Read Jeremiah 2:14-20 where God pleads with Israel (and with us) using the language of intervention, attempting to break through our denial.  Sin looks good, our idols beckon — but they bring enormous pain.

A. What questions are asked in verse 14. The point?

B. What question is asked in verse 17? The point?

C. How does He plead in verse 19. What is the truth about our idols long-term?

SIN AS ADULTERY

In Jeremiah 2:20 God paints a word picture so vivid that translators are reticent to translate it literally. Tim Keller says that literally it should be:

On every high hill, and under every spreading tree, you spread your legs.

“God isn’t using this language to shock,” Keller says, “but to teach. There is an attraction going on at the spiritual level every bit as powerful as the sexual attraction at the physical level.”[1] Derek Kidner, likewise, says that what some translators translate “bowed down” is better rendered “sprawled out,” as The New English Bible does:

Instead, you gave yourself to other gods on every high hill

and under every green tree,

like a prostitute sprawls out before her lovers.[2]

Adultery is a powerful word picture for sin, for idolatry, because this language awakens us to the truth that sin is not breaking the rules but breaking God’s heart. It is getting into bed with other lovers — and of course He withdraws.

3. What is the picture in Jeremiah 2:20? (Find a similar picture in Jeremiah 3:2) How do these speak to you?

SIN AS ADDICTION

Jeremiah uses a disturbing word picture – of an animal in heat who simply cannot be corralled, of camels in heat who have left tracks all over the desert, looking to mate.

camel-tracks1Look at the tracks you’ve left behind in the valley.
How do you account for what is written in the desert dust-
Tracks of a camel in heat, running this way and that,
tracks of a wild donkey in rut,
Sniffing the wind for the slightest scent of sex.
Who could possibly corral her!
On the hunt for sex, sex, and more sex-
insatiable, indiscriminate, promiscuous.

Jeremiah 2:23-24 (MSG)

4. Meditate on the above word picture. What does it tell you about the attraction of sin?


5. Have you ever had experience with an animal in heat? If so, what did you learn?

When I was seven, our springer spaniel was going through her first heat. My parents, under the advice of the vet, had decided to wait to have her spayed until she was a year old. They did not, however, want her to have puppies. So when they were going out for a few hours, my older sisters and I got stern instructions from Dad: “Keep Chloe INSIDE. No matter how badly she wants out, DON’T, UNDER ANY CONDITIONS, LET HER OUT.” My sisters obeyed, but I “half-obeyed.” I felt sorry for her as she whimpered and pawed at the door, so I decided to take her to the second story porch which ran between my bedroom and the garage roof. There was a four foot railing and a long drop to the ground, so I was sure Chloe would be corralled. But when a male boxer appeared yipping below, Chloe became frantic: circling, crying, and suddenly clawing her way up the shingles on the garage roof. I grabbed her around the middle, trying to hold onto her, but she suddenly had Herculean strength. She squirmed out of my grasp and leapt from the roof to the driveway. Somehow she survived, mated, and bequeathed our family with a large litter of springer/boxer puppies.

We have an attraction to sin that is as strong as the sexual attraction. Let it in, and it develops a life of its own that is driven, dangerous, and destructive. When Cain would not repent of his jealousy, it grew, and he murdered his brother. When we do not flee temptation but flirt with it, then the beast is in, and we cry out with Paul:

I do not understand my own actions.

For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.

Romans 7:15

I DO THE VERY THING I HATE

6. What do the Israelites say in Jeremiah 2:25?

7. Have you felt that way? Have you felt the bondage of addiction to an idol? If so, share.

Once we have allowed our idols in, they have a hold over us as strong as the hold of drugs. They make us do what we do not want to do.

We are adulterers and adulteresses, we have given in to temptation, and it has slipped its chains over us.

Recognizing our “idolatry/adultery” is the first step. We have seen the beast. But how do we tame such a strong and determined animal that is prowling about in our hearts?

Often the approach in both the world and in the church is to scold ourselves, using the approach of the “law.” I’ve done it. I’ve slapped my own hand when I’ve reached for the chips, saying, “Bad Dee Dee.” I’ve scolded my heart when I’ve been tempted to sin — to exaggerate, to manipulate.  No! You are a Christian! What I have found is that this may hold me back temporarily, but only temporarily. Idols cannot be removed — they must be replaced. If I want the Spirit of God to come to me, fill me, bathe me in His love — then I must get out of bed with my lovers and stay out.

I need something stronger. This is where we are headed — but I’ll give you a taste of it right now.

Instead of scolding our hearts, we must melt our hearts with the Gospel. The Gospel HAS THE POWER TO wither our idols, loosen their grasp, and transform us. WE MUST KEEP REMEMBERING HOW DANGEROUS SIN IS — IT CAUSED THE DEATH OF CHRIST — BUT HOW MUCH HE LOVES US — FOR HE DIED FOR US. THIS IS THE GOSPEL

Here’s something that may melt your heart.

THE PUNISHMENT FOR ADULTERY

It’s sobering, but in the Mosaic law adultery was a capital offense. Moses writes:

If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death.

Leviticus 20:10

This is how seriously God regards adultery. (This law became distorted by priests and religious leaders who would put only the woman to death but let the man go free. Hosea 4:14 speaks to this double standard and Jesus would not cooperate with it when they brought just the woman caught in adultery to Him in John 8.) Adultery, whether you are male or female, is regarded as a capital offense.

So here is the dilemma.

God loves us, even though we have run to our idols, even though we are adulterers and adulteresses. He wants us back – yet the just punishment is that we be put to death. So what did He do? He took our sin. He took the punishment an adulterer deserves. He died in my place, paying the price for my adultery. Justice has been executed, so He can have me back. Despite my infidelities, He loves me. HE LOVES ME — I MUST TRUST THAT — AND LET HIM REPLACE MY IDOLS.

This is what we must speak to our souls. The Gospel. This will melt our hearts. I remember when Rebecca saw it and prayed:

Oh God, I am just like this adulteress and I don’t want to be anymore. I don’t want to get in bed with other lovers. Yet I am so grateful and confident that when I do you will pursue me! Oh God such love ravished out on a person like me, I can’t contain it…I can’t fathom it, but I can worship You…

Rebecca has experienced tremendous success in seeing her idols lose their power over her. She is grasping the power of the Gospel.

So often we think of the “Gospel” as the ABC’s of Christianity – the way you get in. But the Gospel is the A to Z of Christianity. It is not only the way in, it’s everything. It’s the secret not only of overcoming our layers of bondage but of bringing us into an intimacy with Jesus that only a fraction of believers have known.

8. What comments do you have on the above?

9. Write a prayer of thanks to the Lord for paying for your adultery.

EXTRA CREDIT: TIM KELLER’S SERMON ON JEREMIAH 2 — HE HAS FOUR, BUT THE ONE I LIKE BEST IS HOW SIN MAKES US ADDICTS. IT IS 2.50 AND YOU CAN GET TO IT WITH THIS LINK: http://sermons.redeemer.com/store/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&product_ID=17304&ParentCat=6

10. Do you have comments on the above sermon?

11. What is your take-a-way this week?

12. Read the below and then bless Cyndi!!!!

MEETING OUR BLOGGERS: CYNDI!

I hope I get to meet many of you face to face as I did Cyndi this last December when I spoke at Christmas Teas in Ohio. (I love to speak at Christmas Teas — women go all out decorating, inviting their friends who don’t know the Lord, and hearts are so tender.) I was seated at this beautifully decorated table in an enormous room filled with live trees with tiny white lights when Cyndi appeared — energetic, darling, talking a mile a minute. This is what I remember — Cyndi — feel free to correct! 🙂  This was all one sentence without taking a breath, as I recall. 🙂  “Dee I heard you speak about how you adopted your daughter and how you didn’t want to but your husband heard her crying and how you did and how your older daughter was jealous and now I’ve adopted two special needs girls because you inspired me and my daughter is jealous and these girls can be so challenging too but so darling but also so challenging and one of them is having a fit right now and sometimes i really don’t know what to do and I am wondering what you might say to me and I’m so glad to be here tonight….”

Later, during dinner, Cyndi came over and offered to hold my daughter’s baby so that Anne could eat. That was wonderful. I saw such a servant heart in her.

Since she’s been with us, Cyndi has gone through three major emergencies with children, has called out, and seen God come and walk beside her family in suffering.

Cyndi is the woman everyone is drawn to — the  life of the party — and I’m so very glad she is part of our group!!!!

Cyndi’s whole family

cyndis-whole-family

Cyndi and Abby (the daughter who was in the hospital)

cyndi-and-abby-the-oldest-daughter-who-was-in-the-hospital

Cyndi’s Luke and Ellie

cyndis-luke-and-ellie

Cyndi’s Lilly (She’s the one who just had a badly broken arm)

cyndis-lilly

Cyndi’s Emma

cyndis-emma

About Cyndi:

I am a stay at home homeschooler mom so most of my time is spent with them. We have adopted 2 special needs little girls from China so that has also taken a lot of my time When I am not at home I love to go to Bible study and I lead one every summer. If I get a chance I love to speak about being a mom with purpose and a wife of grace and humility. My friend and I lead a group called TAC HOME (toledo area christian homeschoolers offering moms encouragement). I also love my role as “host” on Sunday mornings for our children ministry.

Pride and impatience are the things that keep my on my knees, well that and being a mom!!! hospitality and exhortation are my biggest spiritual gifts (my friends say making sweet tea is my biggest but im not sure that would be considered a spiritual gift…) I also love to encourage people in the adoption process and serve on the board of our adoption agency AWAA.

About the blog:

I have loved getting to know Dee and all the woman on this blog. Understanding that control is an idol has really opened up a new area of freedom in my life. letting go of my need for perfection has meant that my life is so much more enjoyable and filled with laughter and joy. I have been pushed to my knees so many times during this study and God has used it to peal layer after layer of pride and self-sufficiency. This has left a tender skin that has led me to go to the tender balm of Jesus presence over and over again to sooth the sting. The thing I hate about this blog is that it always reveals yet another layer….thats getting a little annoying Dee, just sayin…




[1] Tim Keller, “How Sin Makes Us Addicts,” Sermon preached 2/14/09,  www.redeemer.com

[2] Derek Kidner, The Message of Jeremiah, (Intervarsity Academic, Downer’s Grove, Il, 1987) p. 33, footnote.

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306 comments

  1. This morning I read Isaiah 57:14-21. It is a great piece of scripture saying that He dwells in a high and holy place-AND WITH THE OPPRESSED AND LOWLY OF SPIRIT, to revive the spirit of the lowly and revive the heart of the oppressed. He is here with us sisters in our weakness.

    Then there was this in 19-20: The Lord says, “Peace, peace to the one who is far or near and I will heal him. But the wicked are like the storm-tossed sea, for it cannot be still, and its waters churn up mire and muck. There is no peace for the wicked.” I think that our souls will be like a still pool when He replaces our idols with Himself.

  2. Anne, thanks for this: “It is a great piece of scripture saying that He dwells in a high and holy place-AND WITH THE OPPRESSED AND LOWLY OF SPIRIT, to revive the spirit of the lowly and revive the heart of the oppressed. He is here with us sisters in our weakness.”

    You know, I came across Matthew 18 I believe, where Jesus refers to coming to Him like a child-children trust, and their parents are their whole world..they get filled up by their parents..Then later Jesus said if anyone makes anyone who comes to Him stumble he might as well tie a stone around his neck and drown him.

    This is more powerful now to me than it ever has been..Since our study I am seeing Jesus in a whole new light..Not as a ‘rule-keeper’ but as the lover of our souls. He is jealous for us and when we stumble that usually means it is a stumbling block that tempts us to turn our face from Him…I just can’t get over how I am learning how much He loves me from the day I was born even-He chose me-had his hand on me. It melts me inside when I think about that truth..Wish I could behold it more often than not, but I think Jesus is leading me in that direction where I will behold it more often than I used to.

  3. Anne, Oh yes and I meant to ask, how is Joey?? I read a lot of posts via my e-mail, I just don’t have time to respond so I have been praying..

  4. Rebecca thanks so much for praying and thanks for asking because I would love thoughts on my dilemma this morning. Joey is moving farther and farther away from church. The youth pastor has offended him and he just can’t seem to get over it and I think that is because nothing has changed with this pastor and Joey just keeps getting reinjured. I have been seriously trying to move him to another church but he resists that also. His guitar teacher goes to the same church and works with the youth band. He is much more mature and has raised boys himself. After a long conversation with him last week I felt much better about staying in this church for Joey’s sake. Now this morning he resists going even there. He would go if my husband went but he did not even get up to go this morning. My dilemma is whether I should make him go or leave it to my husband. My sense in my spirit is that I should leave it to them and by doing that I leave it with the Lord. They both just sit watching tv and play video games all day. Both addicted to their idols. I feel like such a failure, yet the Lord seems to have said to me that I have been faithful to bring him to church for his entire life up until now. My older son was not much older than this when he stopped going to church. I felt like it was more damaging to make him go than to leave it to the Lord. I never imagined that he would stay away to long. Dee, I would really love to hear your thoughts on this.

    Rebecca, I think you were asking about how his leg is. Sorry to unload so much. His healing is slow, he is very frustrated and having trouble with obedience to doctor’s orders. He is back in the cast boot and surgery for the other leg is scheduled for the 13th of June.

    1. Anne, I am so sorry to hear all the troubles your having with your boys. They get to a certain age and no matter what you do, it’s out of your controll. Put them in God’s hands. I’ll be praying fot Joey’s surgery and all your problems.

    2. I wish I had not shared this about my husband and Joey because it paints them in a bad light. My husband is a good husband and Joey is a wonderful man to be. Like me they have their struggles with idolatry. It has been freeing for me today to leave them to the Lord. It has been freeing for them also. Lord, help me to leave this legalism behind and live by grace.

      1. Anne, I thought of you in church this morning because and your takeaway being HOPE. The title was Hope for Repeat offenders on Gen 20–and the main takeaway for me was the truth that our sin is not greater than His plan, and His plan is not dependent on our obedience. I know we all know this, but it was a helpful reminder.
        Your faithfulness as a wife and mother has encouraged me so much, I pray you will hold on to the hope…

        My favorite life verse–“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23

      2. Thanks so much Elizabeth. You are a wonderful encouragement. That is a great verse. We have hope because He is faithful.

        1. Anne, I just prayed that God will use you as His instrument to draw your family closer to Him. That through your loving faithfulness and continued prayer for your family the will of God will be done and that they will turn to Him.
          I’m glad that you shared with us and I, too sometimes think that when I share something negative about my family that others will have a bad opinion of them. You are a loving wife and mother to be concerned about that.

        2. Dawn, thank you so much for praying. That is exactly what I want, for God to work in their hearts not my nagging or manipulation.

  5. As we go to worship this morning: May you kneel and breathe in the deep, clean air of worship to God whose glory fills the whole earth, Light of the world kindling dry hearts in to fragrant flames. ~From: A Holiness Experience

    1. Oops, A Holy Experience.

    2. Wow Kim! How totally appropriate for us! Love it, thanks.

  6. Anne, actually i was asking about him spiritually so this really helps me to know what to pray about.

    I would continue to pray and not urge him to go..let that be when he is ready..i see this rejection by his youth pastor as an opportunity for him to run from the grasp of his idol, take his eyes off of people and turn his gaze to the Lord. It is hard to remember but our children are easily tempted by idols too..Sounds like he might be but God has been preparing you for this time..perhaps we pray for God to open wide Joeys eyes to begin with…i think his desire for church will come as an outflow of Jesus restoring his heart.

    i am sure he sees and has heard from you your testimony of Jesus freeing you from similar bondage..that is good..

    Be encouraged, God sees your ache for Joey and your longing for Joey to be set free and to rest in Jesus arms. It’s just hard to let go, i know..i cant imagine how hard it wiil be for me whe my boys reach his age…i will be asking for your stone of remembrance…

    1. Thanks Rebecca. Your words and prayers are a balm to my soul!

  7. Joyce, will you remind me again of the date and time of your appointment? I had it on a sticky note that is gone, want to get it on my calendar this time–I am thinking it was June 2?

  8. 10. Do you have comments on the above sermon?
    I have known and struggled for some years with my idol. I kept going in circles turning and returning. When Dee invited me back to this study (I was previously in “God of all comfort”) I was skeptical but could feel God drawing me here. After listening to the last few sermons the light seemed to come on. Two things were wrong. #1. I was in self pity instead of true repentance. Dr. Keller says if we continue to love the sin- see the problems it creates and the consequences of it but don’t hate the sin and what it does to God and what it costs Him, we turn the hatred inward and hate ourselves. #2. I wasn’t personalizing my sin. When I saw how my idol hurt my Savior and what it cost Him it melted my heart. I made the connection- I left God as His new bride for my idol lover and divorced Him, just like my best friends husband left and divorced her. I tortured my Savior!
    Until you understand the Gospel, knowing you have an idol only leads you to deep despair.