The woman of John 8 was caught in a situation in which she had been unfaithful to her husband and probably did so with a man who was being unfaithful to his wife. Jeremiah often refers to Israel as adulterers who have forsaken their vows and turned to other lovers. In 13 serves somebodythe case of Israel it was spiritual adultery that Jeremiah was pointing out although the worship of idols often involved a sexual dimension as well. Idols always prove useless in the end and that was the case with Israel’s idols. In Jeremiah 2:27 he writes, “…who say to a tree, ‘You are my father,’ and to a stone, ‘You gave me birth.’ For they have turned their back to me, and not their face. But in the time of their trouble they say, ‘Arise and save us!’”

It wasn’t that Israel had become a secular society. We seem to think that when people reject God, Jesus and the Bible that they are “secular” which seems to mean they are not religious at all. Like with Israel I don’t believe that’s the case. The truth is everybody serves somebody or something. Bob Dylan put it in the lyrics of his song. He wrote, “You may be an ambassador to England or France you may like to gamble, you might like to dance, you may be the heavyweight champion of the world, you may be a socialite with a long string of pearls. But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed you’re gonna have to serve somebody, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord but you’re gonna have to serve somebody.”

Israel wasn’t secular; neither is America. We too serve our own brand of idols. Davidson explains this passage when he says, “But when the day of crisis comes such gods will turn out to be wholly powerless, unable to lift a finger to help their ardent worshippers. Like a thief caught red-handed, they will discover to their shame that their religion is a meaningless charade. The tree, referred to in verse 27, is probably the asherah or sacred pole, symbol of the Canaanite fertility goddess, Asherah, the mother of Baal; the stone, the matsevah or standing pillar, the representation of the male fertility god. There is savage mockery in Jeremiah’s words—these poor, confused people saying to the symbol of a goddess, ‘you are my father’, and to the symbol of a god, ‘you are my mother’. But this is no more than a reflection of a deeper and more serious confusion, the failure to see the difference between the one true living God and the lifeless substitutes which have misled them.”[1] We have a very similar problem! Like Paul said in Romans 1:23 we have “…exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.”

[1] Robert Davidson, Jeremiah, vol. 1, The Daily Study Bible Series (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1983), 32–33.