Last week we looked at verses 3-4 of this book. Today we are going to look at verses 5-7.
You may recall that the main points from last Sunday were that contending for the faith is Urgent, is from the inside, as well as the outside, and it is life or death.
I left you with a little bit of homework as well. we looked at a few verses in Romans 9 where Paul talks about God creating vessels for destruction, and in their destruction his glory is revealed. Today we are going to look at verses 5-7 that continue on the theme of some people being “marked” for destruction. I wanted you to go there because the book of Jude in general and these verses in particular speak of God bringing judgment on those who do not obey Him. In a sense saying that there are people who are in the church, who may call themselves Christians and know all the right things to say, who are only paying lip service to God, and living how they want to live. And Jude says that those people are marked for destruction.
C.H. Spurgeon puts it this way: “If a man does not intend to yield himself up to God’s will, why does he profess to be of God’s church? If a man is not saved by the righteousness of Christ, why does he profess to be a believer in Christ? If he will not be obedient to Christ’s holy will, why does he pretend to be follower of Christ? It is a grave mistake for any person to imagine that he can be in the church of God to his own advantage unless his heart is renewed, unless he means what he declares, and sincerely loves the rule under which he professes to put himself.” C.H. Spugeon
Now, the reason I wanted to point us to Romans 9 is because Paul addresses one accusation that gets often leveled when you start to discuss God’s wrath, or His condemnation. People say that it is against God’s love to send people to Hell, but Romans 9:22-23 says that God’s divine judgement on the unrighteous is a display of His Character as much as HIs amazing Grace poured out on Christians is a display of His Glory. So, there we see Paul telling us that God displays His glory in His judgment, as well as His Mercy. And He can cast that Judgment, or Mercy on whomever He wants to.
So, lets read the text with that understanding.
“Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.”
Now, the first thing you will notice is that he is reminding them of something. They have already been taught this, but here is wants to give them a reminder. The reminder is this, The just as Christ led Israel out of Egypt, He destroyed whom? Yes, the Egyptians, but whom else? The Israelites who did not believe. Again, we need to remember that this letter is warning of people within the Church who are not believers. We will look at their characteristics more in the future, but today, I wanted to look at the three references that Jude makes and hopefully explain them a little with the eye to look at how God displays His Glory in their judgment.
When He speaks of the people being destroyed by Jesus, again, he is looking mostly at the Israelites who were disobedient in the wilderness. Look with me at 1 Corinthians 10:1-13:
“For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” 8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by 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, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
Here is God spelling out to his people why He destroyed some of His own people. For one thing, it says here that they serve as an example for us of how to live. They were also written down it says for us as instruction for us in humility. It says anyone who stands, take heed, lest he fall. There is instruction for us that even the people who saw the pillar of cloud and of fire fell away. Even the one who witnessed the parting of the Red Sea, ate the manna, and drank from the rock turned to idolatry, so, don’t be so arrogant to think that you are going to fair better than them. We also see again the reference to Jesus being the one who was at work in the wilderness. The point of Jude’s reference of them in his letter is that those who rejected God’s rule over them were destroyed.
2. The Rebellious Angels: Turn to Genesis 6:1-4 for this story:
“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.”
Now, there is not full agreement on what this means and who the players were in this story, but some scholars believe that Jude is referencing this story when he talks about the Angels who are in eternal chains. Whatever the players in this story are, the message is clear, if you rebel against God, he will judge you. Even if you are an angel, He does not cuddle with rebellion.
3. Sodom and Gomorra: Look with me at Genesis 19:23-29:
“23 The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar. 24 Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the LORD out of heaven. 25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. 26 But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
27 And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the LORD. 28 And he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the valley, and he looked and, behold, the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace.
29 So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had lived. ”
Sodom and Gomorra are the poster children for God’s wrath on sexual perversion. We see in this story that God is serious about the order of His creation. He is serious about holiness, and He is serious about avenging His Glory.
Here in these three stories we see three things that people are destroyed for: Disbelief, Rebellion, and sexual perversion. There are also there types of beings who are being judged by God. We have Israelites, Angels, and Pagan people. All three defying the Lord, all three judged and condemned.
I am not sure what your thoughts are on this story, how you read, or hear these things, but at some level, if you are not finding yourself in these categories, you have a pretty high view of yourself. I am not totally sure why the Lord through Jude recorded these three groups, but I believe it is because it applies to everyone. God’s judgment against sin is real, and it is unbiased, and unyielding.
If you are like me, and begin to think, “am I one of those who are marked for destruction?”, I think you are in a good place, because if you aren’t able to admit your failures, you aren’t able to grasp Grace.
So, here we have been dwelling a lot on God’s wrath towards these people, and that HIs destruction of them is revealing His glory. I am not sure I have done a succinct explanation of that thought, so let me give you that now. When we sin, by action word or deed, either by omission, or commission, we are essentially slapping God in the face. When we, like the Jews, see all of God’s amazing works and still make a golden calf, we are slapping Him in the face. When we, like the angels do not put ourselves under God’s authority, making rules for ourselves, and taking whatever we want, we are giving God the finger. When we, like Sodom and Gomorra, take what God created to resemble the unity of the trinity, and pervert it to be something he never intended, whether that is homosexuality, pre-marital sex, fornication, pornography, lust, we are spitting on the revealed will of God. Now, if God does not set that straight he is acting unjustly, just like if a judge in a courtroom did not uphold justice for the victim of a crime. So, in order for that wrong to be made right, one of two things needs to happen, you serve the sentence yourself, or someone serves it for you. That is where the good news comes in. We who have accepted Christ have slapped Him in the face, and given Him the finger, and spit on His will, but our sentence has been paid by another. The spotless lamb of God has stepped in, and taken our place, and made forgiveness available to those who would respond. God’s character is upheld, His justice is satisfied, and His glory is displayed, in salvation, and in Judgement.
So, let me finish with this question, how will you display His glory, through being an object of mercy, or an object of wrath?