Do you like history? I must be completely honest with you, besides Biblical history, I am not much of a history buff. I have to force myself to read history and the reason I do is because history can be a great teacher. Jude takes his readers on a history lesson of Israel’s infamous apostates and then compares them to false teachers by using the term “these people.” This section of scripture is only eleven verses, but it is jam packed with Old Testament examples that the readers are expected to draw certain conclusion from.
Jude starts off this section with “now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it.” Sounds like Jude is using a little sarcasm here, “church, we’ve be down this road before, remember! But just in case you forgot let me give you some reminders.”
We can also make a valid assumption that his audience was familiar with the Old Testament and would understand the examples and allusions he is using. Mainly because Jude makes vague references to past apostates without giving any details. For example, if you are like me you have watched some of the Olympic coverage. During the hockey coverage they make reference to the “Miracle on Ice” without going into a long drawn out discussion about it. Why? Most people that are watching, know the “Miracle on Ice” is referring to the USA hockey team that beat the Russian team, despite being huge underdogs. The reference also brings certain emotions up in Americans like national pride, joy or remembering where you were when you found out they won. Jude is doing the same thing here. He wants his readers not only to remember the story but also all the undertones that go with the story. So let’s dig in.
The first Old Testament allusion Jude uses is the Exodus. As soon as Jude mentions the Exodus, his audience would think back to God delivering the Israelites out of slavery from Egypt. They would also remember God’s wrath poured out on Egypt through the ten plagues and God’s protection from those plagues. They would remember the Passover. His audience would also think back to the opening and crossing of the Red Sea. They would also remember how that same Red Sea came crashing down on the Egyptians. How could they forget the pillar of fire by night and cloud by day and all the other parts of history that is tied to the narrative.
Jude also wants them to remember after all The Lord did, there were those who still didn’t believe. What Jude is referencing here is when the spies went to check out the promised land in Numbers 14. The spies came back and 10 of the 12 said there is no way we can go in there and conquer that land. The people responded by complaining and started to elect a leader to take them back to Egypt. While Joshua and Caleb said let’s do it, God brought us this far surely He can take us the rest of the way. Can you imagine after seeing all God had done and still doubting? That is the picture Jude wants his audience to see. Jude also wants us to get a picture of the judgement, not one of those that complained was going into the promise land. Every one 20 and older would taste death except Joshua and Caleb. That was a devastating loss and that’s how serious God takes those who lead people astray.
From the Exodus we move to the fallen angels, their are a couple of views of what this means. I hold to the view that this verse refers to the fallen angels that rebelled against God. These angels, who lived with God, experienced the very presence of God, but in their pride, wanted to be God and rule over Him. These angels were not satisfied to fulfill the purpose God created them for. They didn’t “stay within their own position of authority” but rebelled and thus have been put in a state of “gloomy darkness” and will stay that way until judgement. I believe the “eternal chains” refers to the fact that they can never again come back to the position they once held. They are forever held in their demonic, gloomy darkness.
I also believe there are some fallen angels that are actually held in “the abyss” till judgement. Remember the time when Jesus sent the demons into the pigs? The demons begged Jesus not to send them to “the abyss” (Luke 8:31) Jude wants his audience to see that these fallen angels, who experienced the glories of heaven. These fallen angels who experienced the very presence of God, can never again return to their previous state and will be judged.
Sodom and Gomorrah
The final example Jude uses in this string of examples is that of Sodom and Gomorrah. The cities in the Old Testament that God destroyed because of their sexual immorality, which includes the sin of homosexuality. The cities were sexually immoral and “pursued unnatural desire” to the point that they wanted to have sex with the angels that were sent to rescue Lot and his family. Abraham interceded for these cities to the point where he asked God to not destroy the city if there were 10 righteous people in it and there could not be found 10 righteous people (Gen. 18:22ff). These cities seemed to reach a point of no return, a point that is only determined by God. There was no hope for them so they serve as an example here of God’s judgement by “eternal fire.”
Yet in Like Manner These People…
Jude just took us on a history tour of some of the most infamous narratives in Scripture and after this tour he says “in like manner these people.” Who are “these people?” They are the false teachers. Jude compares these false teachers to those that complained against The Lord, fallen angels and the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. Can you imagine how they reacted when this letter was read in their presence?
There is an important phrase Jude uses next, he writes that these false teachers were “relying on their dreams.” These false teachers were relying on dreams, visions or some type of new revelation to base their teachings on. They were taking parts of the Scriptures, twisting them and fitting in their “new revelation” and trying to mislead the people of God. That is why Jude’s declaration to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered” is so vital to understand. Even at the time of Jude’s writing the canon of scripture was closing. No Joe Schmo can come here and spread anything contrary to “the faith.” Sounds like we have the same problem today. Prosperity preachers claiming they have new insight, others claiming “new revelation” and yet others down right teaching doctrines that are out right contrary to Scripture all in the name of Christ. Believers we need to know our Bible “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes ( Eph 4:14)”
Defile The Flesh
Jude points out just like Sodom and Gomorrah “these people” defile the flesh. If you recall in verse 4, Jude states these false teachers were turning the grace of God into sensuality, which refers to some sort of sexual sin. These false teachers were sinning sexually and defiling the flesh. They had no moral restraints and were characterized by immoral lifestyles.
Like the Israelites in the wilderness rejecting the authority of Moses thus rejecting the plan of God. Like the fallen angels rejecting the authority of God and rejecting the purpose they were created for. These false teachers reject God’s authority too. They rejected the authority of the church, the Scriptures to correct them thus rejecting Christ. They were so blinded by their new revelation, they thought they were superior to any correction from the Scriptures making themselves superior to God.
Blaspheme the Glorious Ones
When I read this, I was honestly stumped. Thank God for men of God who have studied before me and shared there wealth of knowledge with us. As I began to study what this meant John MacArthur pointed out in his sermon series on Jude (which is excellent) that angels had took part in some way delivering the law;
This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers. He received living oracles to give to us(Acts 7:36).
you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it (Acts 7:53).”
Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary(Gal. 3:19).
These false teachers were breaking the law of God and justifying it by their supposed new found freedom in grace and their new revelation. By breaking the law of God they were blaspheming the angels who were the deliverers and in some ways guardians of the law. These false teachers were blaspheming the governing body God set on earth, the church. They were blaspheming the angels by breaking the law and justifying it. They were blaspheming God himself and rejecting His Lordship.
Satan, Michael the Archangel and the body of Moses
Jude throws us a curve ball here by inserting a portion of a narrative from the Testament of Moses a non canonical book. We can go on tangents here and many have. But we must get to the why, why does Jude insert this here?
The immediate context of the text is stating that the false teachers are blaspheming the angels by their breaking the law and justifying it. Then Jude gives us this example of Satan disputing and contending with Michael over the body of Moses. What was Michael’s response? “The Lord rebuke you.” Michael knew Satan had no authority or claim to Moses’ body why didn’t he say go way “luci.” Michael is not the Judge, God alone is the judge and Michael calls on The Lord to rebuke Satan. No one is a law unto himself, not Satan, not Michael and certainly not the false teachers. Jude is trying to drive the point home, it doesn’t matter if your Moses, Michael or Satan you are still under the righteous rule and law of God and one day you will be face to face with the Judge. In effect God rules in heaven, on earth, and even in hell (Psalms 139:7-12).
Another important comparison we should take note of is how Michael deals with Satan. He doesn’t debate him, fight him, but calls on The Lord to rebuke him. If Michael does not slander a fallen angel, how much worse is it going to be for those false teachers that blaspheme God’s holy angels.
Jude brings this section to a close by a final “these people” and stating that they blaspheme what they don’t understand. They are so far gone, there seems to be no hope for them. These false teachers are led by their fleshly instincts, their sensual desires and that will be their destruction. Jude’s final comparison in this section is to animals that can’t reason and live on their own instincts.
I could imagine if Jude lived in our day he my be labeled a Pharisee, heresy hunter or some other label. But as a shepherd of the flock of God Jude is called to feed the sheep, but he is also called to protect the sheep. Jude in this book is giving us a great example of feeding and protecting God’s flock. May we follow in his footsteps, until next week God Bless.