The third of these is found in verse 14: “You shall not commit adultery.”
Adam and Eve were the first husband and wife of the race of mankind. They were to be the template by which every generation after them could follow. Unfortunately, they failed in the area of obedience to God and were cast out of the garden. But they remained husband and wife until their death. In fact, nowhere in the generations listed after Adam and Eve does the Old Testament record any divorce between husband and wife. Divorce was not named among the children of Israel until after their return from the exile in Babylon. At that time, Ezra, a prophet and scribe, required the men of Israel to put away their pagan wives so that the nation would not fall under the judgment of God yet again. But the Scriptures indicate that the men of Israel began to divorce their wives for dishonest reasons.
Just as the prophet Malachi spoke in the Old Testament, “Didn’t the LORD make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth.” (Malachi 2:15, NLT) This was the heart of God toward marriage from the beginning. Unity between a husband and his wife was an earthly representation of the unity between God and mankind. To distort the earthly marriage brings dishonor to God and misrepresents His intimacy with mankind. This is a serious offense in the eyes of God.
This is the second of the Ten Commandments to be quoted by Jesus. He made reference to it in His Sermon on the Mount, extending it to include even lust within the heart. “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28)
God desired for man to love and cherish His wife, and for the wife to love and honor her husband. Marriage was created to be a lifelong commitment for the purpose of bringing forth the next Godly generation. Jesus’ intention was to bring Israel back into a right relationship with not only their wives, but also with God.