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Jude 1 by Robert Dean
Series:Jude (2012)
Duration:55 mins 50 secs

First Example: God's Judgment on Israel

 

In this lesson we are going to look at the first example that Jude gives of God's judgment on those who are disobedient to Him. These examples are of God's judgment on disobedience and unbelief; it is not restricted to examples of God's judgment only on unbelievers. A major problem that we have when we come to a book like Jude in today's environment is that there are many Christians and pastors who teach a form of the gospel that is referred to as lordship salvation. This is actually a perversion, a misunderstanding of the gospel in many different ways. But one of the basic ways in which lordship is taught is there are usually added some adjectives—true believer, real believer, sincere believer in Jesus Christ, and if you were truly saved, genuinely saved. The Bible never adds adjectives to belief. It never talks about truly believing, genuinely believing, sincerely believing. No adverbs are ever added to the verb "belief," no adjectives are added to the noun for faith or salvation. It is only "who believe." Either you believe it or you don't believe it. 

 

If you believe something is true and what you believe to be true is that Jesus died on the cross for your sins then at that instant you are saved, justified; the Father imputes or credits or reckons to your account righteousness—the righteousness of God. "He who knew no sin was made sin for us that the righteousness of God might be found in us." It is a free gift; that means you don't do anything to earn it or deserve it, and you don't do anything to keep it; it is yours forever.

 

Christians can be disobedient, extremely disobedient, because they still retain a sin nature. The only thing that is broken at salvation is the tyranny of the sin nature, which is the focal point that Paul talks about in Romans chapter six.  The tyranny of the sin nature is broken but its presence is not removed, and its power is not reduced. The sin nature is just as powerful five minutes after we are saved as it was five minutes before we were saved.  The difference is we have a capacity, a potential, a capability to say no after salvation that we did not before. It is not automatic. Spiritual growth is not automatic. Spiritual growth is something that is potential, i.e. something that is possible after salvation, but it is activated by our choice. We can choose to live as a new person in Christ or choose to live as we did before we were saved, but how we choose to live is not an indicator of whether we are spiritually alive or not. That is the error of lordship salvation.

 

The reason it is called lordship salvation is because there are those who have said that if you are not truly saved, it is not genuine faith, unless you make Jesus Lord of your life. That is a sort of simplistic, reductionistic approach to their view but the idea is that the genuine believer is going to produce fruit that is consistent with his genuine faith and if that fruit isn't there then he wasn't really saved. But that is not what the Bible teaches.

 

The reason for bringing this up as an introduction to this part of Jude is because when we look at this epistle Jude is writing to believers, but he is warning those believers about a group of false teachers that have come in from outside the church. They are now inside the church and they are having a destructive impact on the belief inside the church because they are teaching heresy. And they are not believers, they are not regenerate; they are holding to a form of godliness, they are counterfeits and actually the devil's disciples and unbelievers, but they are not saved. We know that because of the terms used to describe them in Jude. 

 

But Jude's point is to warn those whom he is writing to that God's judgment is certain for false teachers.  And so he draws examples from the Old Testament to show that God judges unbelief. Unbelief can be unbelief at gospel hearing—the person who does not believe the gospel—or it can be a believer who continues in unbelief after salvation—a disobedient believer. So Jude's examples are not examples of judgment on unbelievers or God's judgment on believers; they are mixed. They are illustrations of just the fact that God judges unbelief. That's it.  So don't make the mistake of thinking that these are believers, they are unbelievers; and that is demonstrated in a number of different ways.

 

The primary focus in this epistle is to challenge his readers to make it a point to defend and fight for the gospel. Jude 1:3 NASB "Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints." 

 

We start out with our thinking. We all have strongholds of false doctrine. We have fortified areas of thought within our soul—human viewpoint thought—which we hold on to desperately. Because in the deception of our sin nature we think that we can really make life work without God, except for maybe one or two situations. So we have areas where we are deeply committed to making life work on our own terms apart from God. The are, by analogy, fortified cities within our thinking. Just as Israel had to eventually go into the land and conquer it the first thing they did was take out the major cities, and then they had a mopping up operation taking out a lot of smaller towns and villages in different battles and fights. That is an analogy of the whole Christian life.

 

Usually when a person gets saved there may be six, eight, ten, twelve major areas of disobedience and failure in his life. They go after that and often there is an initial change but then during the rest of life they are fighting the underlying problems that give rise to that—the desperate need to make life work on our own, the desire to maintain self-sufficiency instead of God-dependency, the desire to assert our own ability over against God's ability, and that manifests itself in a lot of different ways.

 

So the primary focal point of the battle is in our thinking, and then secondly, the thinking that is within our families. If you are a father it is your responsibility to oversee the spiritual development of the family, especially the children.

 

The third sphere of our contending for the faith is in the church, to make sure that we maintain an orthodox belief system and a biblically sound philosophy of ministry. This is what Paul is referencing in 2 Corinthians 10:4,5 NASB "for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. {We are} destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and {we are} taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ." This is important for us to understand because the entire framework for understanding the spiritual life as it is taught in the Scripture is of warfare. We are at war; we are all soldiers in a war. And the weapons of our warfare are not the weapons of the world system, not the weapons of our culture, not the weapons of human viewpoint. They are distinct; they are the weapons that God has described in His Word. So how we do things is the issue. A right thing done in a wrong way is wrong, always is wrong, and this is one of the things that Israel faced when they were going into their conquest. They tried to go in and accomplish the conquest on their own terms at times, and then they would have massive defeat. A right thing done in the wrong way is wrong one hundred per cent of the time.

Ultimately we have to understand that the Christian life is about thinking, not about doing. If you change the way a person thinks you will change what they do, but if all we are focusing on is changing what a person does it becomes superficial, you don't change them from the inside out, and they become like Jesus accused the Pharisees, i.e. of being whitewashed sepulchers, just cleaned up on the outside but they are dark and nasty on the inside because their real spiritual life, their thinking, has not changed. So we have to change thought. We have to "take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ." Notice: not every action. Why? Thought precedes action, action flows from thought; change the thinking and you change the people.

 

As we look at these apostates that Jude is warning about we see all these different terms that are used of them, and these taken in their collective indicate that they are unbelievers, unregenerate. They are godless men, they are changing the grace of God into a license for immorality, they deny Jesus Christ—similar to a description found in 2 Peter, "they deny the Lord who bought them"—like Sodom they are given to sexual immorality, dreamers who pollute their own bodies, they are compared to unreasoning animals, shepherds who feed only themselves, clouds without rain, etc.

 

Jude says these men "have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation." In other words, God in eternity past had identified these as condemned because they were not believers. John 3:18 NASB "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." We are born under condemnation. So they are marked out or identified for this condemnation. They are called "ungodly" which in ever clear passage refers to unbelievers. They "turn the grace of our God into licentiousness [destroy the whole concept of grace] and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ." This is similar to the same examples that Peter uses in 2 Peter 2:5-7.

 

2 Peter 2:1 NASB "But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves."

 

Starting in verse 5 what Jude does is remind his readers of three examples of the certainty of divine judgment. Jude 1:5 NASB "Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe." He is reminding them of a previously taught doctrine. The first thing to note about this verse is the word "saved"—having saved. One of the greatest dangers to understanding the truth of Scripture today comes from evangelicals who use biblical terminology in ways the Bible doesn't use it. In every day Christian jargon people ask, "Well, are you saved?" Bu that they mean, Are you justified? and, Are you going to go to heaven for eternity when you die? They almost always use the word "saved" to describe that.

 

But in the Bible the word "saved," the Greek verb sozo [swzw] refers to each of three different phases or stages of salvation. Sometimes it refers to phase one salvation, which is more technically called justification. This is how we find it used in Ephesians 2:9. Another way in which the word "saved" or "salvation" is used is in the sense of ongoing spiritual growth. It is used this way in Philippians 2:12 NASB "So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling." He calls them "beloved" which indicates they are already saved and in the family of God. It is a term used only of believers. Ephesians 2 says that salvation is not of works lest any man should boast; this salvation is "work out." This is not talking about justification by faith alone in Christ alone; this is talking about the salvation after justification, being saved from the power of sin. Then another way in which we have the word "saved" used is with reference to our ultimate deliverance from sin and evil in this life when we are absent from the body and face to face with the Lord. 

 

So in Jude where we see this reference to being saved out of Egypt we have to ask the question: Is this talking of using "saved" in a theological or any kind of a spiritual sense, or is it using the term in a general every-day use of physical deliverance. The answer to this is that this is probably physical deliverance. The Israelites were delivered out of slavery in Egypt; it is not being used in a soteriological sense. It is not a reference to justification; it is not a reference to their spiritual growth or sanctification; it is not a reference to "absent from the body, face to face with the Lord"; it is just a reference to their physical deliverance out from the land of Egypt.

 

When the Israelites left after the ten plagues it is interesting to note that none of the Jews were affected by those plagues; they were isolated by the Egyptians into the northern area known as Goshen, and the plagues did not impact them. The final plague was the death of the firstborn and the solution to avoid the judgment of God and the death of the firstborn in the family was to apply the blood of the lamb without spot or without blemish on the doorposts of the house. Scripture does not indicate that any Jews lost their lives. All the Jews applied the blood to their house and therefore anybody in that house was metaphorically covered by the blood of the lamb, and everybody survived. This is a picture of our redemption by the Lord Jesus Christ. In order for them to be there and to be delivered they had to believe the promise of God, and they were believing His promise of deliverance.

 

Again and again in Exodus there are statements about the belief of that Exodus generation. So we can say almost exclusively that generation was made up of people who believed in the promise of God for salvation in an Old Testament salvation sense. Phase one: that generation were all justified in the Old Testament. But they were disobedient just as Christians today are disobedient many, many times, and commit some of the most horrible and shocking sins that you would never think a genuine Christian would do, because we all have the same rotten old sin nature we had before we were saved. So what we are talking about here in Jude 5 is first of all, the salvation that is talked about here is the physical deliverance that occurred when the Israelites came out of Egypt and passed through the Red Sea and entered into a new existence a free people. They were redeemed by the blood of the lamb and the Passover event. The Passover event is symbolic of their justification. The physical deliverance or rescue from Egypt is a physical sign or confirmation of their spiritual status, and they are delivered out of the land. 

 

There were times after that that they believed God and there were many times when they did not, and that unbelief increased until God had to bring a temporal judgment upon those people in the Exodus generation. They were prohibited from entering into the promised land because they disobeyed God. God judged them and they all had to die physically before the next generation could go into the land. The only two who could go into the land were Joshua and Caleb.

 

One possible objection that we may hear is: How do you know that they were believers? Because this passages says they were destroyed because they did not believe. Of all of the generation that were delivered from Egypt there were only two that went into the land. Joshua and Caleb were believers in God's promise of giving them the land; it wasn't a promise related to ultimate salvation. For that they were allowed to live and go into the land. Everybody else died because they failed to believe God at that point; it was not a salvation promise. Two other people we could speak of were also prohibited from going into the land and their physical life was given up before the people entered the land, but we would never doubt their salvation; and that is Aaron the high priest and Moses the great deliverer and law-giver of Israel. But Moses disobeyed God at some point and was prohibited from entering the land, as was Aaron.

 

So the judgment of God in destroying or taking the life of everyone in the exodus generation except for Joshua and Caleb does not mean that those people were not justified with eternal life in heaven, but after they were justified and saved they were disobedient and there were consequences to their disobedience after salvation.

 

That episode is referred to in two passages in the New Testament, one is in Hebrews and the other is in 1 Corinthians 10. In Hebrews 3 & 4 there is a section where the writer of Hebrews is encour aging his recipients to not give up. They were under persecution and hostility from other Jews because they had become Christians, believers in Jesus as the Messiah, and so if they give up their faith it is not that they would lose their eternal life but they would lose rewards and blessing both in time and in eternity. So there is a warning not to give up. The analogy is to that exodus generation which because of unbelief didn't enter into the blessing that God was going to give them. It was a blessing in time entering into the land. 

 

Hebrews 3:16-19 NASB "For who provoked {Him} when they had heard [the promise of God to give them the land]? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt {led} by Moses? And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? {So} we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief."

 

"His rest" is not talking about the millennial kingdom; it is not talking about a higher level of spirituality; it is talking about the rest God promised the Israelites once they entered the land as a place of temporal blessing. But they were prohibited from entering into that rest, but that did not negate any of God's other promises to them. They could not enter in because of unbelief.

 

There are a lot of Christians who have unbelief most of their Christian life and at the judgment seat of Christ they are still going to be saved but will not have any eternal rewards. They are going to enter "as through fire"—1 Corinthians 3.

 

Hebrews 4:1 NASB "Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it." Here "entering His rest" is used as a metaphor transferring it to the Millennium and our ruling and reigning with Him in the future kingdom. [2] "For indeed we have had good news [the Word, the message] preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard." So the issue: They had a message. That message was from God saying, "I am going to give this real estate; it's yours." All they had to do was trust Him to take it. God had already given it so the issue was, "Will you trust me in how to take it?" They failed to believe that God had already given that to them so they exercised a lack of faith.

 

This is the same episode mentioned in 1 Corinthians 10:1-11. Paul uses the same example to warn and encourage the Corinthian believers. 

1 Corinthians 10:1 NASB "For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea." These are terms used to represent baptism or identification with Moses. [2] "and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea." They are identified with Moses in terms of his faith and moving to a new life. This is another indication they all were saved and were a regenerate generation. [3] and all ate the same spiritual food [manna]; [4] and all drank the same spiritual drink [the water from the rock], for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ." That whole generation drank from the spiritual rock of Christ. They internalized the messianic promise of God, so the whole generation is soteriological secure in a future in heaven. [5] Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased…" Why? Because of disobedience. It was not that they were unbelievers but that they were exercising unbelief in terms of the day-today promise of God. "…for they were laid low in the wilderness."

 

Think about this. There was a generation of about two and a half to three and a half million people who were going to spend forty years travelling in a rather small area of the Sinai peninsular and every day they would bury on the average about 12-15,000 people. So there was going to be a constant reminder that they were out of God's blessing and under condemnation.

 

How did these things happen? They happened first of all because they were disobedient, and second as an example to us. [6] "Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved." What were they carving for? They were lusting for the leeks and the garlic of Egypt. They just wanted to go back to their comfort zone. Does that mean it is evil to eat seasoned with garlic and onions? No, but what is evil is giving up the blessings and freedom that God has given us so that we can wallow in carnality, self-indulgence and self-absorption. That was the idolatrous aspect. It wasn't necessarily that they were creating an idol out of gold, silver or wood, although they did that when they convinced Aaron to make the idol of the bull. But they also made an idol of their own desires and their own lusts and appetites. 

 

1 Corinthians 10:7 NASB "Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, 'THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY.' [8] Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. [9] Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. [10] Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. [11] Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come."

 

Numbers 13 is the poster-picture of Israel's disobedience; the major and critical event. This is when God instructed them to send the twelve spies, one from each of the twelve tribes, into the promised land which was still dominated by the Canaanites. The original command is given in the first two verses. Numbers 13:1, 2 NASB "Then the LORD spoke to Moses saying, 'Send out for yourself men so that they may spy [explore] out the land of Canaan, which I am going to give to the sons of Israel; you shall send a man from each of their fathers' tribes, every one a leader among them.'"

 

What did God say their purpose was? Did He say their purpose was to go into the land to see if they could conquer the people? No. They didn't interpret the promise right. Instead of literally interpreting what He said and hearing it—God saying, I am going to give this land to you—they are saying if we can win the battle. Because they misinterpreted God's command they disobeyed God's intent and they had no belief. This shows the importance of making sure that we understand precisely and accurately what God says to do. They did not understand what God said to do and therefore they ended up in disobedience because of their own failure to trust God.

 

In verses 3-16 there is a list of the different men from each of the tribes that were sent in. Included within the group are Caleb and Joshua, and they are two of the key leaders. The purpose is spelled out again in verse 17. "When Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, he said to them, 'Go up there into the Negev; then go up into the hill country. [18] See what the land is like, and whether the people who live in it are strong {or} weak, whether they are few or many." What Moses doesn't say: See if we can conquer the inhabitants. Find out what is there, we are not going to see if we can conquer them. [21] "So they went up and spied out the land from the wilderness of Zin as far as Rehob, at Lebo-hamath. [22] When they had gone up into the Negev, they came to Hebron where Ahiman, Sheshai and Talmai, the descendants of Anak were. (Now Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.) [23]  Then they came to the valley of Eshcol and from there cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes; and they carried it on a pole between two {men,} with some of the pomegranates and the figs. [24] That place was called the valley of Eshcol, because of the cluster which the sons of Israel cut down from there. [25] When they returned from spying out the land, at the end of forty days."

 

The average Israelite, we know from graves that have been found, was about five and a half feet tall. Here they are running into the sons of Anak who are about ten or eleven feet tall. They felt as if it was impossible to go into battle. Then they went into the valley of Eschol—a word that means cluster, like a cluster of grapes—and they cut down a huge cluster, showing the prosperity of the land and the fertility of the land, and they also brought some pomegranates and figs.

 

Then they give their report to Moses. [27] "Thus they told him, and said, 'We went in to the land where you sent us; and it certainly does flow with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.'" "Milk and honey" is an idiom for the fact that it is extremely fertile. [28] "Nevertheless, the people who live in the land are strong [a lot of people there], and the cities are fortified {and} very large; and moreover, we saw the descendants of Anak there. [29] Amalek is living in the land of the Negev and the Hittites and the Jebusites and the Amorites are living in the hill country, and the Canaanites are living by the sea and by the side of the Jordan."

All they can do is talk in terms of defeat. No Christian will ever succeed who talks in negatives, in terms of the problems that he faces. The person who is going to have the right mental attitude doesn't look at the problems, he looks at God's solution, looks at God's character, and looks at life always in terms of the character of God and how He enables us and strengthens us to surmount whatever opposition and difficulties or problems we might encounter. God plus one is a majority and God is always stronger than any problem we will ever face. God gave us the solution for every problem from eternity past.

After the ten naysayers, the ten who have unbelief, talk about the Amalekites etc. in verse 29, Caleb exercises leadership, takes the initiative, calms the people down and says let's go up and take it. His focus is on God. He understood that God promised that the land was theirs. Caleb and Joshua understand that God is going to give it to them, they just have to see what the lay of the land is. [30] Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, 'We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.' [31] But the men who had gone up with him said, 'We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.' [32] So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, 'The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of {great} size.'"

Numbers 14:1 NASB "Then all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night." Everybody exercises unbelief, they don't trust in God, and they all whine and moan about how bad everything is. [2] "All the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron; and the whole congregation said to them, 'Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness!'" They were blaming God for all of their perceived problems rather than trusting in God.

 

The response from Moses and Aaron. Numbers 14:5 NASB "Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces in the presence of all the assembly of the congregation of the sons of Israel. [6 ]Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, of those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; [7] and they spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, 'The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. [8] If the LORD is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us—a land which flows with milk and honey.'"

 

Then the warning. [9] "Only do not rebel against the LORD; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them. [10] But all the congregation said to stone them with stones…" One of the clear indications that you are doing God's will is that usually everyone thinks you're crazy and everybody is against you, and you are not going the popular way, especially when you are surrounded by people who prefer paganism.

 

Nevertheless the leaders love the people, and Moses intercedes for them so that God will not just wipe them out. He focuses on God's character, vv. 18, 19: "The LORD is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He will by no means clear {the guilty,} visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth {generations.} Pardon, I pray, the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of Your lovingkindness, just as You also have forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now." 

 

Numbers 14:20 NASB "So the LORD said, "I have pardoned {them} according to your word." The lord forgives us all the time. We confess those sins 10, 896 times and God always forgives us. There are times when God says enough is enough, there are consequences. [21] "but indeed, as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the LORD. [22] Surely all the men who have seen My glory and My signs which I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have put Me to the test these ten times and have not listened to My voice, [23] shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who spurned Me see it." In other words, there are consequences. They are not going into the land. It doesn't mean that they lose their salvation, it doesn't mean they are unbelievers; it means that at this point they have exercised a lot of unbelief as a believer, and so God is going to bring judgment on them.

 

Numbers 14:28 NASB "Say to them, 'As I live,' says the LORD, 'just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will surely do to you; [29] your corpses will fall in this wilderness, even all your numbered men, according to your complete number from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against Me. [30] Surely you shall not come into the land in which I swore to settle you, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.'"

Now we go back to Jude 5. "Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe." He destroyed them in the rebellion of Korah, He destroyed them through the bite of the fiery serpents, and He ends up destroying all but two of the exodus generation because of their unbelief. It doesn't mean that they weren't saved. It isn't using this as an example of God's eternal judgment on unbelievers, but it is an example that God judges unbelief. This is the thrust of what Jude is saying in this epistle.