Author: Ron Graham
Choice, Change, Challenge
—A lesson from Jude 1:4-7
Down through the ages there have been great departures from God and the true faith. These departures were by choice; they changed the grace of God into lewdness; they challenged the faithful to contend for the true faith. Jude mentions three historic examples (Jude 1:4-7).
Jude’s concern is that the Christian faith will go the same way, and God’s holy people will turn from the true faith to a false and perverted way.
¶“4For certain men came in by stealth, those who long ago were written down for this condemnation: ungodly men who change the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. 5So I will remind you of something you once knew: the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.” (Jude 1:4-5).
¶“6And the angels who did not keep their first domain, but left their own dwelling place, God has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day. 7Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, gave themselves over to fornication, and went after strange flesh. They are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” (Jude 1:6-7).
1 The Israelites’ Disobedience
The first example Jude mentions is how the Israelites, whom God led by Moses out of Egyptian slavery, turned to idolatry and other disobedience. With the exception of Caleb and Joshua, that entire generation was condemned to wander in the wilderness and die there, never to see the promised land.
¶“5So I will remind you of something you once knew: the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.” (Jude 1:5).
Many of those Israelites disregarded God’s law even while God was revealing it to Moses on Mount Sinai. Before Moses came down, they'd already changed their very God into a calf made of gold, and honoured it as the god who had led them out of Egypt. They were punished (Exodus 32).
As another part of the story, “Dathan and Abiram... contended against Moses and Aaron in the company of Korah... [they] contended against the LORD; and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up... the fire devoured 250 men, and they became a warning” (Numbers 26:9-10).
Those Israelites made a choice to disobey and change the due order that God ordained through Moses. Our challenge is to contend for, and restore, the order that God ordained through Jesus Christ’s apostles —“the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3).
2 The Fallen Angels
Jude’s next example is about the angels who sinned, whom Peter also mentions (2Peter 2:4). They too are condemned to be punished.
¶“6And the angels which did not keep their first domain, but left their own dwelling place, God has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day.” (Jude 1:6).
Some folk believe that these angels were “the sons of God” who took wives from among “the daughters of men” and their progeny were giants —these angels left their spiritual domain and took on human flesh without God’s authority (Genesis 6:1-5).
Whether or not that is correct, Jude and Peter are making the point that there are angels who disobeyed God and brought punishment on themselves for their sin. Likewise anyone who goes astray and corrupts others will know God’s wrath.
These angels made a choice to disobey and change the due order that God had ordained for angels. Our challenge is to contend for, and restore, the order that God ordained for us in the apostolic “faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3).
3 Sodom and Gomorrah
Jude’s third example is the well-known account of the two wicked cities Sodom and Gomorrah. They had become perverted, and God destroyed these cities with fire from heaven.
¶“7Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, gave themselves over to fornication, and went after strange flesh. They are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” (Jude 1:7).
This event (Genesis 19), is used often in Scripture as a warning:
- Moses (Deuteronomy 29:23),
- Isaiah (Isaiah 13:19),
- Jeremiah (Jeremiah 49:18),
- Amos (Amos 4:11),
- Jesus (Matthew 10:15),
- Peter (2Peter 2:6).
- Jude (Jude 1:7).
- An angel (Revelation 11:8).
The unrighteousness of these cities and surrounding towns greatly upset Lot who lived there. “Righteous Lot was oppressed by the filthy conduct... [he] tormented his righteous soul from day to day as he saw their unrighteous deeds” (2Peter 2:6-8).
God punished these morally fallen cities. “The LORD” rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah from the LORD out of the heavens; so he overthrew those cities...(Genesis 19:24-25).
The people of Sodom and Gomorrah made a choice to disobey and change the righteousness that God had ordained. Our challenge is to be righteous like Lot and agonize for the restoration of the apostolic order that God ordained for all Christians.