Summary: Have the professed people of God permitted themselves to be compromised by the world to such an extend that they are powerless against wickedness? Though the thought is frightful, Christians need to assess our relationship with the Living God.

The more they increased,

the more they sinned against me;

I will change their glory into shame.

They feed on the sin of my people;

they are greedy for their iniquity.

And it shall be like people, like priest;

I will punish them for their ways

and repay them for their deeds.

They shall eat, but not be satisfied;

they shall play the whore, but not multiply,

because they have forsaken the LORD

to cherish whoredom, wine, and new wine,

which take away the understanding.

My people inquire of a piece of wood,

and their walking staff gives them oracles.

For a spirit of whoredom has led them astray,

and they have left their God to play the whore.

They sacrifice on the tops of the mountains

and burn offerings on the hills,

under oak, poplar, and terebinth,

because their shade is good.

Therefore your daughters play the whore,

and your brides commit adultery.

I will not punish your daughters when they play the whore,

nor your brides when they commit adultery;

for the men themselves go aside with prostitutes

and sacrifice with cult prostitutes,

and a people without understanding shall come to ruin.

Though you play the whore, O Israel,

let not Judah become guilty.

Enter not into Gilgal,

nor go up to Beth-aven,

and swear not, “As the LORD lives.”

Like a stubborn heifer,

is stubborn;

can the LORD now feed them

like a lamb in a broad pasture?

Ephraim is joined to idols;

leave him alone.

When their drink is gone, they give themselves to whoring;

their rulers dearly love shame.

A wind has wrapped them in its wings,

and they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices. [1]

We live in a broken, fallen world. We are residents of this fallen world, but this world is not our home. We are ambassadors of Christ, and Heaven is the land to which we are going. We know that “Our citizenship is in Heaven” [see PHILIPPIANS 3:20]. Long years past, an ancient writer described the followers of Christ in these words, “Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life… Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to live in, whether it is Greek or foreign. And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labour under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country.” [2]

Throughout the text, we witness the Lord GOD mourning the rampant immorality of His professed people. They are charged with sinning against Him, feeding on the sin that has contaminated almost the entire populace. The priests appear to be suffering from some form of ecclesiastical lockjaw—they are incapable of speaking against sin if it means exposing the perfidy of those for whom they bear responsibility. The LORD charges that the people “cherish whoredom;” in short, they are idolaters. Therefore, we see the divine lament, “like people, like priest.” Spiritual adultery has led to physical adultery.

I must pause for a moment to note a truth that is not often recognised—spiritual adultery leads inevitably to physical adultery. Whenever an individual begins to worship anyone or anything other than the Living God, that person will shortly condone the most vile moral acts. If the individual does not personally become adulterous in his or her relationships, she or he will approve of wickedness. An individual who is spiritually adulterous must, of necessity, soon approve of every form of moral turpitude.

Do you recall God’s record of the incident when Israel made a golden calf to worship? Moses was on the Mountain to receive the tablets on which God had engraved the Ten Commandments. The people grew restless and demanded that Aaron make them an image before which they could worship. When Aaron acceded to their demands, they began a party. Here is the account as recorded in EXODUS 32:1-6 and found in a contemporary translation.

“When the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron. They said to him, ‘We don’t know what has happened to this Moses, who led us out of Egypt. Make gods who will lead us.’

“Aaron said to them, ‘Have your wives, sons, and daughters take off the gold earrings they are wearing, and bring them to me.’

“So all the people took off their gold earrings and handed them to Aaron. After he had worked on the gold with a tool, he made it into a statue of a calf.

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