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Jude 1:8-11 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
8 Despite this, in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and speaking abusively of glorious ones. 9 But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a judgment against him in abusive terms, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” 10 But these men speak evil of the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are corrupting themselves. 11 Woe to them! because in the way of Cain they went, and to the error of Balaam for profit they rushed, and in the rebellious talk of Korah they perished.
MORE ABOUT THE ENEMY Jude 8–11
Jude is on a strong run in his description of the inside forces for evil. He calls them these dreamers (v. 8). The writer seems to be referring to Deuteronomy 13:1–5, which describes how to respond to “the prophet or the dreamer of dreams.” These dreamers, whom he likens to the infiltrators, pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings. There are many ways to pollute ourselves. Human nature inclines us to reject some kinds of authority, and even in casual conversation we can slander heavenly beings. It is not good enough for us to point a finger at others and say how rotten they are. We must each realize how near the edge of evil any of us could be at any given time. We must walk and talk carefully, not veering from walking in the light God gives us.
In verse 9, Jude cites an instance that is not from Scripture, but from a writing called the Assumption of Moses, an apocryphal book. This book claims that after Moses died, the archangel Michael was sent by God to claim the body. But the devil showed up and disputed Michael for the body, claiming that Moses was a murderer and that his body was evil (Gnosticism), so the devil should claim him. The angel won, but Jude’s point seems to be that even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” (v. 9). Apparently Jude’s point is that if Michael did not even defame the devil, what right does any human have to slander an angel?
Jude then further details the behaviors of the invaders.
They Speak Abusively against Whatever They Do Not Understand
Once again, before we wag our finger at them, think about how easy it is for any of us to do the same thing—and many of us have. Almost anything will do: an idea, a style, research results, variations of theology or ritual, people of other races or cultures, even those from different experiential backgrounds from our own. All of these things are sometimes a mystery to us. And, what we do not understand, or are not comfortable with, we tend to criticize and prejudice ourselves against. May God help us be done with such attitudes and behaviors.
It is an amazing thing that Jesus was incredibly compassionate, candid, and forgiving to all manner of sinners. He got the most fired up and angry at the “holiness” folks of His day. He was upset because they had a form of religion and loved to show it off, but their heart for others was light years away from the heart of God. What can the Christians and the churches of today learn from this?
They Follow Their Instincts to Their Destruction
Before we shake our heads once more about their degradation, consider your own human instincts that create problems for you, especially in relationships. Jude’s words could refer to what we call addictions or base passions gone wild, or undisciplined. Self-discipline is heavily underrated as a means toward spiritual health and wholeness.
Life Is Out of Control
Control is a big issue in life. In most situations that involve conflict, whether in kindergarten, in war, or in the Church, the issue is control. Then, there are lives out of control. Self-discipline is a myth; self-centeredness is king. Jude gives us a rare and rugged insight into the real issues that many people deal with today. They have become imbedded in immorality, irreverence, and insubordination.
In the end, they have cultivated lives of immorality, irreverence, and insubordination.
Jude then cites a series of biblical characters whose lives were tragic examples of wayward living. We will study them in the order Jude mentions them.
They Have Taken the Way of Cain (Gen. 4:1–15)
Cain is mentioned in Scripture as the firstborn of Adam and Eve. One of the often-quoted lines from Cain is, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” He asked that of God, shortly after murdering his brother over a worship issue.
The Genesis account indicates that something about Cain’s behavior and his offerings to God were flawed, so God’s favor was on Abel, but not Cain. The reaction by Cain was anger and resentment. God even warned Cain (Gen. 4:7) that sin was crouching nearby, ready to conquer him, and that he needed to deal with some issues. Cain ignored God’s counsel and then continued in his way of disobedience, defiance, envy, anger, resentment, and then murder. Cain is the prototype and example of human nature unchecked. His self-absorption became more dominant a force in him than his fear of God or inclination to repent, even when conviction was brought about directly by God. May it never be said about us that we have taken the way of Cain (v. 11).
They Have Rushed for Profit into Balaam’s Error (Num. 22–24; Rev. 2:14)
Balaam was a prophet of Moab and apparently a true servant of God. He was approached by Balak, the king of Moab, for a favor. Numbers 22:6 would give us the impression that Balaam had been known as a powerful man of God with capacity to evoke blessing or curse on a people. He had a lofty spiritual profile, accentuated by his capacity to hear directly from God (Num. 22:8).
Balak, the king of Moab, saw that the hordes of Israelites had moved into his territory, and he was terrified that they would devour his kingdom. So he requested that Balaam pronounce a curse on the Israelites. Balaam was warned by God not to curse those whom He had blessed, so Balaam refused Balak’s request. However, his mistake was to listen to subsequent and lucrative offers by Balak. Eventually, Baalam coached Balak how his people might seduce the Israelites to perform spiritual sacrilege and sexual immorality, therefore corrupting them and neutralizing them as a political threat.
One of the devastating lines uttered by Balak to Balaam is, “The Lord has kept you from being rewarded” (Num 24:11). This thought has likely been the seed planted in many minds, causing a person to wonder if God’s will is what holds them back and hinders them rather than helping them. The truth is that what God wants for us is always what is best for us. His will is positive and liberating for us. His will leads to the continually expanded life, not the shrunken one. Balaam’s error offers us warning that it is a deadly path to allow ourselves to keep entertaining temptation once God has empowered us to turn it down. Doing so is like trying to hug a coiled snake; we will get bit, and the poison may kill us. Beware not to rush for profit into Balaam’s error (v. 11).
They Have Been Destroyed in Korah’s Rebellion (Num. 16:1–35)
Korah is the man who led a major rebellion of 250 high-level Israelite leaders against Moses and Aaron. The Lord was going to destroy the whole group of them, but Moses interceded for their lives. It would appear that Korah’s intent was to overthrow Moses and become the new leader of Israel. The rebellion met, however, with a dramatic judgment. God told Moses to warn the people to put some space between themselves and the tents of the three primary rebels and their families. In an awesome display of vindication of Moses and Aaron—and judgment of Korah and all of his followers—the earth opened up and swallowed them all alive (Num. 16:31–34).
There Are Lessons to Be Learned
These stories reveal the value God places on sacrificial worship by His people, the sanctity of the witness of His people, and the supporting of the work of His leaders. In each of the three cases just discussed, the transformational value of repentance was overlooked or ignored by Cain, Balaam, or Korah. Each had opportunity to review what they had done or were considering, make a change of mind and heart, and then move in a godly direction. None of them did. The lesson to us is the importance of being willing to exercise the grace of repentance as often as we need in order to allow God to continue to transform us into His likeness.
By David A. Case and David W. Holdren