Since the false teachers (wolves in sheep’s clothing) had secretly crept into the Church, Jude finds it necessary to give the readers a warning about the judgment of false teachers by reminding them how God deals with all tolerated sin. He starts verse 5 with “I want to remind you” about God’s stern judgment in the past in dealing with sin. This reminder implies that they were familiar with the forthcoming accounts and maybe they needed a “refresher” course on the history of God’s dealing with all types of blatant sin.
Jude gives three examples for the church to remember…
- The Israelites
- The angels
- Sodom and Gomorrah
Jude reminds the readers that the Jesus he speaks about was the same Jesus who saved the Israelites from Egyptians slavery and pursuit. He is also the same Jesus who executed judgment on the nation in the desert. Some manuscripts read “The Lord” but the ESV and other modern translations show that the Greek word used is Jesus. In this passage we see that Jesus and God are one in the same. Equating Jesus with God was an early Apostolic teaching that was widely held and understood (Remember Jude says, “I want to remind you). It is safe to assume that Jesus and God are considered equal here and this was nothing new to the readers.
Two facts are present in this account of the Exodus of Israel.
- Jesus saved them or brought them out of slavery from Egypt.
- He also destroyed those who did not believe.
- All of the Israelites were beneficiaries of the salvation from Egyptian slavery.
- But not all Israelites entered into the Promised Land.
- When Jude is referring to those who were destroyed he was referring to those who did not enter the Promise Land as a result of unbelief.
- Everyone over the age of 20 died in the wilderness as they wandered for 40 years.
- They perished because of unbelief.
- All of the Israelites were beneficiaries of the salvation from Egyptian slavery.
The second reminder is in verse 6. The angels who rebelled against God were sinning against God. We do not know what their actual sin was. Some attribute it to the angels and Nephilum in Gen. 6, plus 2 Peter 2:4-9 talks a little about the fallen angels. However, what we do know is that the angels who sinned did not stay in the position God appointed them. This could very well be referring to Lucifer and his desires to be like the Most High. He left his position of servant or messenger and tried to overthrow the throne of God. The end result or punishment for their sin was containment in eternal chains and kept until the judgment. The Greek word for gloomy darkness ζόφος [zophos /dzof·os/] which means the darkness of the nether world. Until the Day of Judgment κρίσις [krisis /kree·sis/] – the day of sentencing of condemnation, damnatory judgment.
Sodom and Gomorrah
The third reminder is found in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The question arises, “Why was Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed?” We are told that is was because of sexual immorality. The Greek word is ἐκπορνεύω [ekporneuo /ek·porn·yoo·o] and means giving oneself over to fornication, to go a whoring. The people of Sodom and Gomorrah pursued unnatural desires and the word nnatural ἕτερος [heteros /het·er·os/] means went back after another, one not of the same nature, form or class. The word Desires - σάρξ [sarx /sarx/] means flesh or more commonly referred to the animal nature with cravings which incite sin. It is the earthly nature of man and therefore prone to sin and oppose God. Sodom and Gomorrah serves as an example of how God has dealt with the sin of sexual immorality and is very much a warning to the ungodly.
In review the three sins mentioned are…
- The sin of unbelief – Not believing God is adequate or capable of following through with his promises.
- The sin of rebellion – Thinking oneself greater than God and not being content in the position God has put you.
- The sin of sexual immorality – Seeking sexual pleasure for self gratification without regards of consequences including whoring, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, incest, rape etc.
Motivations of an Apostate
In verse 8 the false teachers had similar if not the same qualities as those sins previously mentioned. The men relied on their dreams to be their guide, claiming them to be from God. The word for dreams is interpreted as a filthy dreamer. One who is beguiled with sensual images and thus carried away to impious course of conduct. They were using their dreams and interpretations as ways to defile the flesh (living to satisfy the cravings of the flesh), reject authority (disobey God’s Word and authority) and blaspheming God (Arrogantly speaking evil or reproachfully against God).
These false teachers/Apostates spoke arrogantly against God and they did not know the power they were dealing with. In their self centered living they (in their minds) thought themselves higher than God. Jude is saying that this kind of arrogance is foolishness since even the Archangel Michael was not so arrogant as to speak an evil word about one who would have been a contemporary or equal to him. Michael probably could have engaged in a battle with Satan as the two are equal but instead he does not even hesitate to give the battle to the Lord. So, instead of engaging in battle with Satan, Michael admonishes this battle to Jesus.
There was apparently a battle between Satan and Lucifer over the body of Moses after his death. We have no more information about this conflict but we see that when Moses died, the Lord buried him and no one knew where the sepulcher was located (Deut. 34:5–6). This was purposeful on God’s part because there would have been no doubt that the Jewish people would have made a shrine out of the sepulcher and fallen into idolatry, so God kept the information to Himself. The text tells us that “not any man” knew the place, so perhaps Satan did know the place and tried to claim Moses’ body for himself. Inasmuch as Satan does have a certain amount of authority in the realm of death he may have felt he had a right to interfere
Jude continues in verse 10 to say that the false teachers speak evil of things they do not understand (i.e. God, Jesus, salvation, angels etc.) and this is their ultimate destruction. Their understanding is destitute of reasoning and instead they think based upon their animal lusts, instincts and pleasures which is their nature.
Jude does not have hostility and anger towards the false teachers; instead he grieves and has pity on them because he knows they walk according to their own self gratification, greed, ambition and arrogance. Everything they do is for their own personal gain. They will do or say whatever they need without moral regard or ethics to get what they want. In fact, Jude equates them to Balaam (see the story in Numbers 22) who takes money from an individual named Balak in exchange for placing a curse on (Balaam’s own people) the Israelites. He also associates them to Korah who tried to usurp Moses’ authority in the desert and he tried to start up a revolt against him and Aaron. Like Balaam and Korah these false teachers are “hidden reefs”, which is a metaphor of men who by their conduct damage others morally and secretly. They are dangerous individuals who can cause harm without others knowing it. At their charity feasts (which would include the Lord’s Supper) they would only seek to watch out for themselves. They had no regard for the others present. They would go and indulge in gluttony and self gratification with no regard to the fellowship of the saints.
These false teachers are like…
- Waterless clouds – Clouds that promise rain but fail to produce. They look promising on the outside but have nothing of significance inside.
- Fruitless and dead trees in Autumn – Like an orchard in the fall and the farmers are expecting fruit instead find a tree that is dead and without any fruit.
- Wild waves of the sea – They seem to speak with power and authority but instead spew out empty debris.
- Wandering stars – Probably referring to meteors and falling stars. They are there one moment then gone the next and swallowed up into the darkness.
Verse 14 speaks of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. This will be the time the Lord executes judgment. The ungodly will be convicted of their blasphemous deeds they have committed and they will be held accountable for the words they spoke. Those facing conviction or judgment include…
a.Grumblers – Those who complain against God.
b.Malcontent – Those who are not content with their place where God has placed them.
c.Those following after their lustful desires.
So the take home for us today is…
- Contend for the faith
- Be on guard for false teachers and teachings in the body.
- Know that tolerating false teachings is subject to harsh judgment.
- Persevere in the faith (we will talk about this in the next devotion).
Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1989). The Bible exposition commentary. "An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire 'BE' series"--Jkt. (Jud 8). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.