The Bible has tough talk for adulterers, starting with the law of Moses, and not getting much better in the New Testament, as Jesus moves us upstream to our lustful eyes. With amazing grace, however, God placed the consequence of our adultery upon his own son…
11 Then the Lord said to Moses, 12 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If a man’s wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him 13 so that another man has sexual relations with her, and this is hidden from her husband and her impurity is undetected…
15 then he is to take his wife to the priest.
16 “‘The priest shall bring her and have her stand before the Lord.
24 He shall make the woman drink the bitter water that brings a curse, and this water that brings a curse and causes bitter suffering will enter her.
Numbers 5:11-13, 15, 16, 24
13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”
Today I read one of the strangest portions of scripture I have ever read. I’m telling you, it’s crazy stuff. It’s on the list of crazy stuff that I will ask God about if there is every a rainy day in heaven. It’s that crazy. Today I read what a man should do if he suspects his wife has been unfaithful. The instruction, which God gave to Moses directly, is for the priest to give some bitter water to the woman to drink and God will reveal the truth about the potential adultery.
I take some comfort (some) in a couple of facts. First of all, God is in the driver’s seat here. This is his instruction and God is the one who discerns the truth. Secondly, this practice is no longer completed in the church. I’m thankful for this.
I still think this is strange. I also am concerned that there isn’t a reciprocal process for women who suspect their husbands. This is because I want it to be fair and equal. And this doesn’t seem fair and equal to me. And this is where I found some encouragement through a fellow named Bryan who shifted my attention from my own thoughts to the thoughts of God.
Taking a wider lens, I find myself considering how we are all adulterers in our relationships with God. Each of us put our relationship with the Lord in second place from time to time to our love or lust for the things of the world. We stray from our first love at times, and we are guilty of adultery against God.
The difference is that we don’t need to go through any process of discernment. God sees and God knows. We are found guilty by God and we are cursed as a result, just like our adulteress in our story above. Here’s where the story shifts, though, in the person of Jesus.
Jesus took our curse upon himself and suffered for you and me to be reconciled to God.
Isaiah 53:6 teaches us about ourselves. We have all gone astray and we continually turn toward our own ways. In incredible mercy, God shows us grace by placing our transgressions all upon his own son, Jesus. This is a free gift for each of us adulterers. We don’t deserve it, yet God is pleased to offer it because he loves us that much.
I am thankful to be under grace and not the law of Moses. And I am intent upon not violating the trust of my relationship with God through Jesus. May the Lord have mercy on us all…