Jude 8-16: Illustrations
November 24, 2023
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Jude is urging his readers to contend for the faith. In this section, he is telling us that false teaching is not only serious, it has serious consequences for the false teachers and any who follow them. To make that case, he uses various illustrations – sometimes from the Bible, sometimes from apocryphal literature, sometimes from nature – to underline the same point: have nothing to do with false teaching, confront it, and contend for the biblical faith that has been delivered to you.
First, in verses 8 to 10, Jude underlines the arrogance of false teachers. They reject what they don’t understand. They don’t listen. They attack the angelic realm, deny the supernatural, and much else besides that is arrogant and humanistic. Even, Jude says, the great angel Michael did not dare condemn the fallen angel, the devil, but instead said the Lord rebuke you. How foolish it is for false teachers to sneer at the supernatural, to deny it exists. And the consequence will be that that which they do understand – the purely physical and sensual – will end up destroying them. Sex without discipline leads in the end to venereal disease, emotional fragmentation, family chaos, and finally destruction.
Second, in verse 11, Jude uses illustrations now drawn from the Bible itself. You can look up Balaam and Cain and Korah and discover the different kinds of rebellion and sin that Jude is alluding to. The point is that these “new heretics” are just like Cain and Balaam and Korah. It is always tempting to think that the “new heresy” is not so bad as the old one! But anything that denies God and undermines the Bible will have the same consequence as these ancient rebellions: destruction.
Third, in verses 12 to 13, Jude uses various illustrations from nature to make the same point. They are like clouds without rain: promise much (rain for the harvest) but deliver nothing. They are like autumn trees that have been uprooted: no fruit and dead. They are like wild waves of the sea: frothing and foaming up their shame. They are like wandering stars (the ancients called the planets “wandering stars” because they moved relative to the fixed stars): they keep on changing their mind to suit the season. The end of all this is that for them “blackest darkness has been reserved for ever.” These are teachers who are right there with them (at their “love feasts,” presumably at their celebration of holy communion); they are shepherds, pastors, who are only interested in looking after themselves.
Fourth, verses 14 to 15, Jude references a prophet Enoch. We have no other record of this prophecy, but that it is now here in the Bible, one time is enough! And the prophecy is a summary of what the Bible teaches. In any case: if we turn away Christ, deny him, deny his word, then judgment and hell awaits.
Then fifth, verse 16, he summarizes the whole so far. It is a summary of the internal workings, the mindset and modus operandum, of a false teacher – and as such it is worth studying and keeping in mind as we seek to “contend for the faith.”
These people are grumblers and fault-finders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.
Let us not be like them. But instead, put our trust in God and his Word, and lovingly but clearly contend for the faith!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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