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Hey McFly

Time travel has been a fascinating Sci-Fi concept for a long time. What would it be like to return to a specific point in history…or to relive a past experience. What would it be like to leave 2018 and visit the parting of the Red Sea…the fall of Jericho…the coronation of David…Galilee in the time of Jesus…to watch the Declaration of Independence being signed…but, it is just that science fiction. What is done in the past is done…it is not something we can return to…or is it?
The truth is in some ways the past is always here. There’s nothing new under the sun as the scriptures tell us. You’ve heard it said, Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.
I’m not sure its that simple…even those who have learned from history are still doomed to repeat it…because human nature is what it is because of sin…the past repeats itself all the time.
In today’s passage…Jude goes back into the past and drags scenes and characters into the future in order to illustrate his point.
We can gain a lot from this because even the false teachings we see today are nothing new. These are not new battles…just old ones with a new name and face. In one sense that is exhausting but in another sense it is encouraging because we understand God has not changed. So, the way he dealt with falsehood in past we can be confident he will deal with it in the future.
This is a difficult passage to bring together and I’m indebted to David Helm’s study of the material.
As we contend for the faith we need to be reminded this is not a new fight…and Jude brings the past into the present to prove that point.

Back to the Future

The way Jude connects the condemnation from long ago to the present is by first presenting three stories from the OT and demonstrating how the false teachers are falling into the same patterns. He is, in essence, going back in time and bringing those historic transgressions into the future in the people against whom he is writing.
The first place in history he takes us is into the wilderness. In verse 5 it reads...
I love what the ESV chose to do with this verse. Most English translations use the word Lord here…but the ESV along with the NLT and CSB chose to use the earliest manuscript readings which do in fact say Jesus. Now, this isn’t huge news to us…we know Jesus Christ as the second person of the trinity was with God the father as the people were brought out of Egypt…but it is a good reminder to us that Jesus was not simply a spectator…but the almighty Triune God was at work in bringing about this redemption from the hands of Pharaoh.
But we know after this deliverance that many fell away. They who had once tasted the blessings of the Lord instead turned their backs. God said in [32] But as for you, your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness. [33] And your children shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years and shall suffer for your faithlessness, until the last of your dead bodies lies in the wilderness. [34] According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, a year for each day, you shall bear your iniquity forty years, and you shall know my displeasure.’ [35] I, the LORD, have spoken. Surely this will I do to all this wicked congregation who are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall come to a full end, and there they shall die.” (ESV)
Apostasy is nothing new, and what is particularly frightening is the reality that in order to be an apostate…you have to first claim belief. You have to look and sound the part…you have to be on this inside. Is that not exactly Jude’s point about the false teachers? They’re living and moving in the midst of God’s grace…they are claiming Christ as their own…yet God is promising judgment against them for their unbelief. The falling away is inevitable.
[32] But as for you, your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness. [33] And your children shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years and shall suffer for your faithlessness, until the last of your dead bodies lies in the wilderness. [34] According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, a year for each day, you shall bear your iniquity forty years, and you shall know my displeasure.’ [35] I, the LORD, have spoken. Surely this will I do to all this wicked congregation who are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall come to a full end, and there they shall die.” (ESV)
The apostle John writes in his first epistle... [18] Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. [19] They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. (ESV)
Warning Concerning Antichrists
In verse 6, Jude takes us out of the human realm and into a spiritual one. He writes...
As one author wrote “How incredible to be reminded that a road to Hell is paved for some who knew life in the presence of God firsthand”
[18] Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. [19] They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. (ESV)
Jude is most likely referring here to [1] When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, [2] the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. [3] Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” [4] The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown. (ESV)
Helm, D. R. (2008). 1 & 2 Peter and Jude: sharing christ’s sufferings (p. 307). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
Increasing Corruption on Earth
Without getting trapped in the various interpretations and understandings of the angelic beings here and the Nephalim, lets just say clearly that Jude’s point is that even the angels…those who lived in the presence of God in heaven still rebelled…still rejected God’s authority. And just like those angels who rebelled…judgment comes to anyone who wages war against the God of heaven by rejecting his authority.
Next Jude shifts focus toward the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
[1] When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, [2] the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. [3] Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” [4] The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown. (ESV)
If you recall in , , this picture recalls the night that Lot, Abraham’s nephew, took in angelic visitors who had been sent by God to destroy those cities. There is no indication that Lot thought they were anything other than human travelers. Later that night the men of the place congregated at Lot’s door and desired to take these visitors for themselves. Sodom and Gomorrah was a place of self-indulgence, appetite without restraint, people never sated, always famished, and wanting more.
There’s something else intriguing here. Helm understands it this way, “While the men in Genesis intended to engage in homosexual relations with these visitors, there is no indication that they knew they were angels. And that makes the later part of our verse especially instructive. It reads that they pursued “unnatural desire.” The word there is literally “other flesh,” flesh different than their own. If that is the case, then the connection between verses 6 and 7 is even more extraordinary. The angels of verse 6 reject God’s authority and desire relations with humans, and in verse 7 it is the humans who find themselves on the verge of desiring bodily union with the angelic host.”
Helm, D. R. (2008). 1 & 2 Peter and Jude: sharing christ’s sufferings (p. 308). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
Having laid out these three OT examples of sin deserving the judgment of God, in verse 9 he writes...
Helm, D. R. (2008). 1 & 2 Peter and Jude: sharing christ’s sufferings (p. 308). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
Now, you may be thinking…I know my Bible fairly well and I have no earthly idea what Jude is writing about here…I don’t remember this Bible story at all. Well, you’re on to something there…because this is the only place in Scripture where this is mentioned.
What Jude has done is what many preachers do…including this one…bring contemporary literature, or in our case other art like film or TV, in order to apply the larger point. That’s exactly what he is doing. He is taking a very well known apocryphal book “The Assumption of Moses” and is using it to further prove his point. It would be like me applying a text a Christmas by mentioning something from Charles Dickens.
Now, whether or not this battle over Moses’ body is true or not, we don’t know. I don’t see Jude making a definitive case for it…rather he is using the well-known story to add more to his argument. So, whether it happened or not is not the point…the point is about authority.
Jude’s point is for us to be like Michael…to operate under the authority of God…to not go our own way and do our own thing…to not walk away from the faith…to not blaspheme the name of God…to not reject his authority.
The false teachers in Jude’s day and ours are no different than the false believers of the OT. They have gone outside the authority of God in order to be their own authority…to speak for God where he has not spoken. This is a dangerous place to be and that is Jude’s larger point. Stepping outside of God’s authority AND leading others to do the same is standing in the waiting line for swift and decisive judgment. God will not tolerate that.
The archangel Michael in this illustration did not rebuke the devil himself but stood squarely in the authority of God. Jude is reminding his readers that any true teacher of the word…and true believer will not stand on his/her own authority…but always places themselves under the authority of God and his word.

Back to the Future Part 2

In verses 10-11 we see Jude again appealing to the past to understand the future. However, in this section instead of addressing larger stories he centers in on 3 individuals. So, let’s look at these one by one.
When we think of Cain, very often our first thought of him is murder. Rightly so, as he takes the first life in Scripture. But, Jude seems to have another character trait in mind. He says Cain abandoned himself for the sake of gain. In [1] Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.” [2] And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. [3] In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, [4] and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, [5] but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. [6] The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? [7] If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.” (ESV)
It was said, “Before Cain became a murderer, God gave him a message. God spoke to him. God instructed him. God preached to him. God taught him what was and wasn’t acceptable behavior. The fact that Cain committed a violent act of murder tells us that in the end, Cain rejected God’s word”
Cain and Abel
The rejection of the word of God as the sole authority…as the end all and be all of life is what connects Cain with the false teachers. Whenever someone steps out and knowingly contradicts and changes the Word of God in order to suit their own needs and desires, they become like Cain. And as Cain’s rejection of God led to him murdering his brother…likewise false teachers in a real way murder others with their condemned words against the Lord. To willfully lead people away from truth is murder in some respect…for eternity is in the balance.
Helm, D. R. (2008). 1 & 2 Peter and Jude: sharing christ’s sufferings (p. 316). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
Secondly, Jude speaks of Balaam. Balaam is both a terribly tragic story but also one of the most humorous in all Scripture. But, we mustn’t let the humor displace the real seriousness of his offense. As it was noted, “Balaam is found in the fourth book of Moses, Numbers. Like Cain, Balaam was a teacher. His downfall though came through a love of money and openness to sensuality. In the book of Numbers we see Balaam, a teacher of God’s people, turning against Israel and cursing them, all because a foreign king promised to pay him handsomely for it. At first Balaam fought off the temptation and refused. But later he reversed his position, advising God’s people to engage in orgies and sensuality with the foreign women of Midian (cf. ). In essence, he laid aside God’s word and taught something else. And he did it so that his own pockets would be lined with cash.”
[1] Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.” [2] And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. [3] In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, [4] and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, [5] but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. [6] The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? [7] If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.” (ESV)

What judgment came on Balaam? Numbers tells us that just like his sensual counterparts in Jude 7, Balaam was killed by the Lord’s army while living in the midst of a godless and sensual city (Numbers 31:7).

Helm, D. R. (2008). 1 & 2 Peter and Jude: sharing christ’s sufferings (p. 317). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
Jude then takes us to Korah. We read about Korah in
[1] Now Korah the son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men. [2] And they rose up before Moses, with a number of the people of Israel, 250 chiefs of the congregation, chosen from the assembly, well-known men. [3] They assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! For all in the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?” [4] When Moses heard it, he fell on his face, [5] and he said to Korah and all his company, “In the morning the LORD will show who is his, and who is holy, and will bring him near to him. The one whom he chooses he will bring near to him. (ESV)
Korah's Rebellion
What was Korah’s problem? It was the fact that the Levitical priests had authority over the people that he did not. This is a complaint as old as time…the rebellious attitude of many people who have to live under authority. They just reject it. Korah was essentially leading a pack of rebels who did not want anyone telling them what to do.
But, in rejecting Moses’ authority, they were really rejecting God’s authority. So, what happens to people who reject God’s authority...
[1] Now Korah the son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men. [2] And they rose up before Moses, with a number of the people of Israel, 250 chiefs of the congregation, chosen from the assembly, well-known men. [3] They assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! For all in the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?” [4] When Moses heard it, he fell on his face, [5] and he said to Korah and all his company, “In the morning the LORD will show who is his, and who is holy, and will bring him near to him. The one whom he chooses he will bring near to him. (ESV)
[20] And the LORD spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, [21] “Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.” [22] And they fell on their faces and said, “O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and will you be angry with all the congregation?” [23] And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, [24] “Say to the congregation, Get away from the dwelling of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.”
[20] And the LORD spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, [21] “Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.” [22] And they fell on their faces and said, “O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and will you be angry with all the congregation?” [23] And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, [24] “Say to the congregation, Get away from the dwelling of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.”
[25] Then Moses rose and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him. [26] And he spoke to the congregation, saying, “Depart, please, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest you be swept away with all their sins.” [27] So they got away from the dwelling of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. And Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the door of their tents, together with their wives, their sons, and their little ones. [28] And Moses said, “Hereby you shall know that the LORD has sent me to do all these works, and that it has not been of my own accord. [29] If these men die as all men die, or if they are visited by the fate of all mankind, then the LORD has not sent me. [30] But if the LORD creates something new, and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into Sheol, then you shall know that these men have despised the LORD.”
[25] Then Moses rose and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him. [26] And he spoke to the congregation, saying, “Depart, please, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest you be swept away with all their sins.” [27] So they got away from the dwelling of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. And Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the door of their tents, together with their wives, their sons, and their little ones. [28] And Moses said, “Hereby you shall know that the LORD has sent me to do all these works, and that it has not been of my own accord. [29] If these men die as all men die, or if they are visited by the fate of all mankind, then the LORD has not sent me. [30] But if the LORD creates something new, and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into Sheol, then you shall know that these men have despised the LORD.”
[31] And as soon as he had finished speaking all these words, the ground under them split apart. [32] And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the people who belonged to Korah and all their goods. [33] So they and all that belonged to them went down alive into Sheol, and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly. (ESV)
[31] And as soon as he had finished speaking all these words, the ground under them split apart. [32] And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the people who belonged to Korah and all their goods. [33] So they and all that belonged to them went down alive into Sheol, and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly. (ESV)
God is not playing games. Remember, God cannot be split apart. We cannot have some of God, we get all of God. So many today want to focus on God’s attributes of love, mercy, and grace. God is kind and God won’t judge me. But, what they fail to understand is that alongside his love, mercy, grace and kindness is his wrath, his holiness, his justice. You cannot have one without the other. For God, those attributes consisting in one God make him God! He is perfect in his justice and his mercy…he is perfect in his wrath and his grace.
Jude’s point is that judgment is coming upon false teachers. It is an inescapable reality. Jude further connects these past sins with the present reality at the end of verse 11. Helm notes, “In the last phrase of verse 11, “perished” is in the aorist tense. Do you see the implication? It isn’t merely that God’s judgment will fall or that God’s punishment is waiting to come. What Jude is preaching is, “Beloved, hear me on this: these people today who pervert the gospel, these church leaders who reject God’s Word, these preachers who are out for your money, these pastors who permit you to have both Jesus and sensuality, these upstarts who level any notion of ecclesial authority, have already perished long ago. They died with Korah. These guys who are eating and drinking with you were those guys. Watch out. Be careful. Their ways are deadly.”
In verses 12-13, Jude launches into poetry. His vivid descriptions further emphasize his point...
Helm, D. R. (2008). 1 & 2 Peter and Jude: sharing christ’s sufferings (p. 318). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
Where in the first section Jude applies the text using the story from the apocryphal book The Assumption of Moses, he applies this text using another familiar extrabiblical text that his readers would have known. He writes in verses 14-15...
Now, Enoch is indeed a biblical character…a real man…but this reference is not from the Bible. This is from the book 1 Enoch. The books of Enoch come from what we would call the pseudepigrapha…a collection of historical jewish writings that were not considered Scripture, but were generally understood and read for both historical and theological teaching. In fact, portions of Enoch were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls.
So, what is Jude doing using this story? Well, again he is connecting their culture with the idea he is bringing forward. He is further proving his point by giving them a non-biblical cultural reference.
Remember the basic argument by the false teachers…that God will no do what he says in his word. God is not wrathful…God is not going to punish evil…he is a God of love. As we pointed out, God cannot be separated…God takes sin very seriously. He even takes the sins of justified believers seriously. Though we can no longer be condemned for our sins once we come to Christ…God does not brush over our sin…no, he disciplines us…chastises us in order to bring us to repentance and trust in the finished work of Jesus. God sanctifies believers…he doesn’t simply ignore their sin.
So, lest Jude’s readers get carried off by these false teachings he wants to remind them that God is not messing around. So let’s read verses 14-15 again, but this time focus on the word ungodly.
Jude is making the point very clear…there is no grace apart from Jesus Christ and there is no Christ apart from faith in Him and submission to all he says. Justice will come for workers of lawlessness. God is not going to breeze over sin…every sin will be paid for…every single one.
Jude concludes in verse 16...

“Heavy”

This may not be a feel-good sermon…messages of coming judgment really can’t be. But, I want you to understand something…this is a life-giving message. Look, Jude made it clear this wasn’t what he really wanted to write to them about…but desperate times call for desperate measures. There is too much at stake when truth is attacked to sit idly by. Sure, I’d love to preach a more feel-good message…but we are not in a time where passages like this can be ignored.
As Jude has laid out for us the reality of God’s judgment against the ungodly…it should shock is unto reality…God really is going to judge the ungodly. The Christian response to that is two-fold. On one hand we rejoice that God is just in his punishments…that our God is a holy and righteous God and he will in no way spare the ungodly. We should be comforted with the reality that God will set right all that is wrong…he will be the one who brings vengeance against those who have rejected him
…yet, at the same time the Christian response to that is one of a rescue. We should rightfully understand that the only thing separating us from that judgment is the grace of God in Jesus Christ. And with that grace comes the responsibility to share the message of Jesus with a world who is on track to be judged in the same way we deserve.
Many people died on the Titanic because they did not know the danger they were in.
Jude’s message is that judgment is coming to the ungodly. His primary reason for demonstrating that is to show the false teachers and those who may potentially be under their influence that God’s grace is not to be abused and God’s authority is not to be trifled with. God will swiftly judge the wicked while also graciously saving those for whom Jesus died. God is the just and justifier.
Jude is making a clear and definitive statement here that no sin will escape the righteous judgment of God. God will not let one single sin pass through. Every sin of every man and women who have ever lived will be judged and will require payment....and that payment is destruction. But God is rich in mercy and grace…and the reality for those of us who have trusted Christ for salvation is that our sins have indeed been paid for…as God crushed the Son of God on the cross for our sins…he paid that debt once and for all. And rising from the grave he conquered sin and death…he rose triumphantly…and now, in him, we are free from that condemnation…our debt is paid…our sin atoned for. But there are many many others who are still under condemnation for their sins…there are many who need to hear the unpopular and uncomfortable truth that God is going to bring judgment.
So, this morning…if that is you…if you do not know Jesus…if you have not trusted him in faith…you are responsible for your sin. God will one day demand payment. Can you afford it? A lifetime of good works can never wash away the stain of sin. A perfect attendance in church can never wipe clean the slate before you. Only Jesus Christ can wash away that sin with his blood. Today, do not be caught trying to pay for your own sin…do not put it off…don’t wait for a more opportune time. Today is the day to trust Jesus alone, believing he paid for your sins…trusting in faith that Jesus is your savior.
Brothers and sisters…there are many false beliefs out there…and many ravenous wolves waiting to bite and devour believers for their own gain. Don’t be deceived by shepherds who feed themselves…by waterless clouds and fruitless trees…stand up and contend for the truth…don’t fall for the oldest trick in the book. Take God at his word and bring his word to a lost and dying world.
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