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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Take Five with Jude

During COVID, with all the extra time I have on my hands, I decided to do a personal Bible study through Jude. Then I realized some people might find it helpful if I shared my thoughts. Each 'Take Five' segment takes about five minutes to read. 

Every week or so I will post my Take Five sections on this page, one after the other. As this page grows in size you will need to scroll down to the latest post.  I hope you will find these quick studies useful for your own walk with the Lord Jesus.


Take Five 

Jude 1:1 (Segment One)


Welcome to my “Take Five’ mini-reflections. In this series we will look at the book of Jude in the New Testament. You’ll find it just before the book of Revelation.

Jude is one of the lesser known epistles in the New Testament. It’s only 25 verses long, but don’t let its length fool you. It’s packed with power and insight for life in the 21st century.

We start with verse one: “Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ: May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you.” 

At the outset of his epistle, Jude introduces himself as both a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and a brother of James. This James is the same one who wrote the epistle that carries his name and who, along with the other apostles, led the early church after the resurrection of the Messiah. James was one of the leaders of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 as the apostles and others struggled with their first significant doctrinal issue of circumcision. 

According to conservative Biblical scholarship, Jude is the younger brother of Jesus. This is surmised because in the lists of Jesus’ brothers found in Matthew 13:55 and in Mark 6:3, James is mentioned first and Jude last or next to last. Listing brothers according to age was a common and age-old practice among Jews and others who lived in the middle east. (Catholic tradition holds that Mary had no other children after Jesus, and the Greek word for 'brothers' can also mean 'cousins.'  It is beyond the scope of this study to explore that point. Please do an internet search for more details).


It’s important to note that neither Jude nor his brother James make mention of their familial relationship to Jesus in their respective letters. I think the reason for that is rooted in their humility. They would not have people hold them up as anyone special because they lived with Jesus during His childhood. It was not until after the resurrection of Christ that they suddenly understood they’d been granted a great gift by God to have lived for a time with their Creator. How humbling THAT must have been!


There is a lesson there for us. We should be most careful to avoid drawing attention to ourselves, regardless of our gifts or positions or degrees or any other earthly and very temporary gift from God. Whatever He has given us, He has given us to use for His kingdom and the help of others – and never for self-promotion. “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord . . . But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-7) 

I hope you noticed that last phrase: “For the common good.” 

It would do everyone well to read Solomon’s book of Ecclesiastes at least once a year. What the wise king wrote in those 12 chapters will serve to keep our perspective on the right track. 

It would also do everyone well to read the short history of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar in the third and fourth chapters of Daniel’s prophecy. No one wants to have to learn as Nebuchadnezzar had to learn – that God is able to humble those who walk in pride. 

I also want us to see in this first verse that Jude calls himself a bond-servant of Jesus Christ. Another equally accurate translation of that clause would be, “Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ.” 

Something to think about: What does it mean to you to be a slave of Jesus Christ? 


We will look at that more closely next time.

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Take Five –

Jude 1:1 part 2

 Today we take another five minutes to examine the next section of verse one of Jude: “Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ: May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you.”
Jude calls himself a slave of Jesus. That’s important. No one can do anything of value for the kingdom unless we first recognize whose we are and to whom we belong.

I mentioned Nebuchadnezzar in the last reflection. Here’s what the powerful and formidable king said to himself as he strolled along the roof of his palace. Wherever he looked in all direction lay his expansive kingdom. And the king said to himself:Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?’”

Yet it was only a year earlier – talk about the mercy and patience of God – a year earlier, God warned the king about his pride. And now, as Nebuchadnezzar puffed out his chest, God had had enough.

“While the word was in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you, and you will be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling place will be with the beasts of the field . . . until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes.’

I like the description of pride found in the apocryphal book of Sirach – written around the 2nd century BC: How can dust and ashes be proud? Even in life the human body decays. A long illness baffles the physician; the king of today will die tomorrow. For when one is dead he inherits maggots and vermin and worms. The beginning of human pride is to forsake the Lord; the heart has withdrawn from its Maker. For the beginning of pride is sin, and the one who clings to it pours out abominations. Sirach 10:10-13

Jesus tells us in John 15:1-5 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. . . . Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

Jude recognized his place, and that was at the feet of Jesus. He was a willing slave, a bond-servant bought with a price – a most costly price. And as Christ’s slave, he would go wherever and do whatever his Master commanded.

Are you an honorable and faithful bond-servant of Jesus? Being so is a choice.

Meditate for a while on the lyrics to this hymn written by Isaac Watts:

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.




Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.



See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?



Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.



Jude continues in verse one with this clause: To those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ. We will look more closely at this section next time.

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Take Five –


Jude 1:1 part 3


We’ve been reflecting on the first verse of Jude: “Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ: May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you.”


Today we take another five minutes to examine this particular portion of the verse: ‘[T]o those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ.


Do you remember when Jesus called you? I remember when He called me. September 13, 1972. It was Yom Kippur, the highest holy day in the Jewish faith. The day of atonement. God opened my understanding wide enough to see how utterly sinful I was. How utterly futile it was for me to think I could be good enough for heaven. I grieved over my sins and my sin nature. I still remember what I said to Him on that life-changing day: “God, Oh God, forgive me of my past sins and look with tolerance on my future sins.”


I knew I was hopelessly trapped in sin, and that by myself I could never change. 

Have you ever come face to face with your sins and your own sin nature? Have you ever mourned yourself because you knew your life was as dark as dark could be?  You may have been baptized as an infant, you may have walked down to a church altar as a teenager or as an adult – but as you think about it now you realize you have never seen yourself as fully deserving of God’s judgment and an eternity in the Lake of Fire.

If that’s the case, that you have never come face to face with your sins, then I urge you to examine yourself. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you your utter sinfulness and helplessness to save yourself. No one can adequately express how vital to our eternal souls is our recognition AND ongoing confession of sins to God.

Moving on to the next part of this verse, Jude writes, ‘[T]o those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ.

Listen, please. God is calling you to Himself. God is ALWAYS calling you to Himself. Why? Because He loves you. 

And because He loves you – and this cannot be overstated – because He loves you He has extended to you an engraved invitation to be forgiven of all your sins, to be freed from your hell-bent sin nature, and to become part of His family. 

An engraved invitation. Here is what God tells us through Isaiah 49:15-16 “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands. 

Isn't that a beautiful picture? When the Roman soldiers hammered those nails into Immanuel’s flesh, it was as if God the Father was spelling out your name, and my name with each blow of the hammer. 

Let’s close this Five Minute reflection focusing our thoughts on a few stanzas of an old hymn by William Newell: 


Years I spent in vanity and pride,
caring not my Lord was crucified,
knowing not it was for me He died
on Calvary.


Mercy there was great, and grace was free;
pardon there was multiplied to me;
there my burdened soul found liberty
at Calvary.


By God's Word at last my sin I learned;
then I trembled at the law I'd spurned,
till my guilty soul imploring turned
to Calvary.


Mercy there was great, and grace was free;
pardon there was multiplied to me;
there my burdened soul found liberty
at Calvary.

In the next Take Five meditation, we’ll look further into this first verse of Jude’s epistle ‘[T]o those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ.
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Take Five

Jude 1:1 part four



In this next Take Five meditation, we’ll look further into the first verse of Jude’s epistle ‘[T]o those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ.’

It ought to be a great comfort to those who have given their heart to Christ to know we are beloved of the Father and kept for Jesus Christ. The Greek word Jude uses here for ‘kept’ carries the idea of being guarded, protected.



That’s important.



Almighty God is continuously keeping and guarding us for Jesus Christ. That means no weapon formed against us can prosper. Nothing except sin can ever separate us from our God. Persecution or famine or homelessness, poverty, or riches – He keeps us. He guards us as the apple of His eye.



But even if we should suffer according to the will of God, we can still glorify Him through it all, for He permits only things into our lives for good. That’s because the good God can do nothing wrong. He never permits harm into our lives without good reason. That’s why He promises through the apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans, “All things work together for good to those who love Hm and are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)



And from whom does the Father keep and guard us? Certainly, from Satan and his demons. But God also keeps and guards us from our own bent toward waywardness, our own inclination to leave His side.  



You may remember the words of the old hymn: “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it; Prone to leave the God I love: Take my heart, oh, take and seal it with Thy Spirit from above. Rescued thus from sin and danger, purchased by the Savior’s blood, may I walk on earth a stranger, as a son and heir of God.” *



As a small child clings to his father in the presence of a stranger, the Holy Spirit constantly woos us to stay close to the Savior when troubles are near. And when are trouble never near?



St. Padre Pio said it well: “It is more strange for children of God to resist throwing themselves into the arms of God than for a baby to feel unsafe snuggled in the arms of his mother.”



One of the most faith-destroying songs some of us hear in our churches each year around Good Friday is the one with these lyrics, “You gotta walk that lonesome valley, you gotta walk it by yourself. Nobody else can walk it for you, you gotta walk it by yourself.”



What a terribly erroneous and harmful song that is for those who follow Jesus Christ. Jude tells us we never walk alone – never; Especially through a lonesome valley. A far more biblically rich and faith-building song is one like this:



“There’s a peace in my heart that the world never gave, a peace it cannot take away; Though the trials of life may surround like a cloud, I’ve a peace that has come here to stay!

“Constantly abiding, Jesus is mine; Constantly abiding, rapture divine; He never leaves me lonely, whispers, oh, so kind: “I will never ever leave thee”—Jesus is mine.”

Let me close this five-minute meditation with this promise from Jude himself. You’ll find it in the last few verses of this epistle. Please, trust what he says as he writes under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

We turn our attention to the next verses when we meet again.

* Come Thou Font of Every Blessing
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Take Five
Jude 1:1-2 part five

In this next Take Five meditation, we’ll look at verse two. For context, I include the verses we’ve already examined.
“Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ: 2May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you.
I almost skipped verse two to move on to what I think are the more weighty verses beginning with verse three. But the Holy Spirit stopped me in my proverbial tracks. He inspired each writer, from Moses to John, from Genesis to Revelation, to pen every word God has preserved for us in the Bible. There aren’t any extraneous words in Scripture. Every jot and tittle have value.
Yes, verse two is important for us. And honestly, who among us does not long to have God’s mercy and peace and love multiplied to them?
Whereas grace means God gives us what we don’t deserve, mercy on the other hand means God does not give us what we do deserve. As the Psalmist wrote: “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.” (Psalm 103:10) Tell me, who doesn’t need God’s mercy?
When Jude writes here of peace, the context tells us he is speaking of peace with God. Peace, knowing God is not mad at you or me. Such peace, however, is only achievable through our faithful and obedient relationship with Jesus Christ. Though life’s storms thrash against our little fishing boat, the Christian can have “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ . . . And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:1-5)
So, tell me, who doesn’t need God’s peace?
And then Jude talks of God’s love. Here the word means just as one might suppose: God loves you with an incomprehensible and passionate love. It is possible, when we hear so often, “God loves you” to become inured, we can become desensitized to that glorious and boundless truth.
But if such thoughts ever enter into our mind, causing us to question His love, we need only to think of Calvary. It is there that God did all He could possibly do to prove His superabundant love for you and me. And tell me, who doesn’t need God’s love?
Jude, in the first verse of his epistle, defines his audience as those who are called by God, beloved by God, and kept by God. Now he prays for God’s mercy, peace, and love to be multiplied to them.
Are you a follower of Jesus Christ? Have you confessed to Him your need of His forgiveness and of His friendship? Have you willingly and repeatedly told Him you want Him to be Lord of every nook and cranny of your life? Are you letting Jesus be Lord of your lifestyle? If so, then what Jude wrote in the first two verses of his epistle applies also to you.  Thanks be to God.
We will look at the next few verses when we meet again.


Take Five
Jude 1:3
Part six

 “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.

There are two things we ought to pay attention to here in verse three. First, Jude tells his readers he was making ‘every effort’ to tell them what he wanted to tell them. The Greek word he used here has the idea of being ‘diligent,’ or to ‘strive for something.’ In other words, what he had to tell them was of such importance that he let nothing hinder him from communicating God’s truth to that body of believers.

Jude’s comment has a lot to do with how you and I in the 21st century exercise our faith. Is what we know of Jesus important enough to us to make every effort to tell others of Christ?

For example, do we believe it singularly true that faith in Jesus and obedience to His commandments is the ONLY way to receive eternal life? Do we believe that UNLESS a person submits his or her entire life and their lifestyles to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, that person WILL spend eternity in the Lake of Fire?

But there is more. Are we striving every day to live a lifestyle that does not cause scandal among believers and non-believers? Do we make every effort – do we make ANY effort – to support missionaries and others who broadcast the message, the good news of forgiveness through Jesus Christ?

Our response to each question gives us a glimpse into what we really believe about the New Testament message of Christ, salvation, holiness, and so forth.

But there is yet more in this short phrase in verse three. Jude appeals to their ‘common’ salvation. He uses the same language, context, and meaning as Paul in his letter to Titus: To Titus, my true child in a common faith.” (Titus 1:4), and Peter in his second epistle: To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:1)

Humanity lives with a common need. We all need God’s forgiveness. We’ve all sinned against His laws. Therefore, we all live under His wrathful condemnation (see John 3:36 and Romans 3:23 and 6:23).

Yes, we all have the same common need. And God has given us all the same common solution: He sent His holy and righteous Son to take on Himself our justly deserved punishment. Through Christ’s sacrificial death on our behalf, God demonstrated His perfect justice and, at the same time, His perfect mercy by placing on Jesus the sins of all who place their trust and hope in Christ.

Young or old, male or female, rich or poor, popular or unknown, in prison or free, homeless or living in a mansion, educated or uneducated – from every race and every nation all who follow Christ now have this one thing in common: Eternal life.

It is to that commonality that Jude continues his letter because Satan’s seeds of deception had already been sown in the fledgling Church. We look at that in the next reflections.


This is part seven of my 5-minute meditations through Jude’s epistle. You can find parts one through six here: https://thecontemplativecatholicconvert.blogspot.com/2020/05/take-five-with-jude.html


Take Five With Jude
Part Seven
Verse 1:3

“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. (Jude 1:3)

In reminding them of their common salvation, Jude now urges his readers to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.” Why? Because mortal danger lurked in the shadows of their fellowships: “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:4)

Jude’s warning to his first century readers is just as serious a warning to 21st century readers. Neither they, nor we, can be satisfied to merely warm the pews in this battle for the souls of men and women. Jude exhorted his readers to stand and be counted, to fight the good fight of faith, and to maintain as their benchmark the true faith that was delivered to them by the apostles.

Already by the time Jude wrote this letter, Satan had introduced destructive heresies into the Body of Christ which, if not forcefully addressed, would have worked like a virus to not only weaken the evangelistic power of the church, but would have corrupted the gospel message.

The apostle Peter spoke to that danger in his second epistle: “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. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words.” (2 Peter 2:1-3)

St. Paul also spoke about wolves in sheep clothing in his letter to the church at Corinth: “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore, it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.” (2 Corinthians 11:13)

Gnosticism was one of the false teachings that invaded the purity of the early Church. Gnosticism is an umbrella term for several heretical teaching, but essentially, they believed all ‘matter’ is evil, and only the ‘spiritual’ is good. They believed salvation came through their ‘special knowledge’ and NOT through the teaching of the apostles.  

Another heretical group circulating through the early church were the so-called ‘Judaizers.’ They insisted Gentiles had to be circumcised before they could be saved.

Those were only two of the multitude of theological errors that attacked and have continued to attack orthodox Biblical faith since the first century.

Perhaps the most significant early heresy was Arianism. Prominent in the 4th century, Arianism nearly upended Biblical Christianity. The renegade bishop, Arius, rejected the apostolic teaching of the deity of Jesus. He believed Jesus was a created being – a most important created being, but NOT Almighty God in the form of a man. That heresy is still taught by some groups today, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons.

Jude’s appeal to a ‘common salvation’ then, as now, was designed to maintain doctrinal purity regarding such basic elements of Christian faith as the Person of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, salvation by grace through faith, lifestyle holiness, the final judgment, and so on. What constitutes ‘common salvation’ can perhaps be best defined by the 4th century Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed (formulated in 325 and 381 AD https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicene_Creed).

The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed was written in direct response to Arianism and a later heresy which declared that the Holy Spirit was not a Person, but rather only a ‘force’ of God. (A note of explanation – when the Creed speaks of the ‘catholic’ church, the term ‘catholic’ means specifically the ‘universal’ church, and not the Roman Catholic Church).

So, what do YOU believe about the basic doctrines of orthodox Christian faith? Can you support your position with Scripture? Jude explains in verse four why a clear understanding of orthodox doctrine is important to our common salvation.


We continue our study next time.


Take Five
Part Eight

We now continue our study through Jude’s epistle. You can find lessons one through seven on my blog at this link:  

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. And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. (Verses 5-7)

Before we look more closely at this text, please think – right now – please think about what you had for dinner three nights ago. How about two nights ago?  Unless it was a special meal, like for a holiday or a birthday – if was just an ordinary meal, how difficult was it for you to remember what you ate?

I want to tie that question to the gospel message. Martin Luther said we need to hear the gospel every day because we forget it every day, and I think the apostles of the early Church would agree with him.

Jude knew his readers knew the gospel, yet he writes in verse five: Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all . . . .  And Jude is not the only one to consider it prudent to remind his readers of God’s truths.
St. Paul reminded his readers of some of the events surrounding Israel’s 40-year journey through the wilderness (1 Corinthians 10:1-11), and Peter told his readers: “Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble . . . Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. (2 Peter 1:10-12)
So, what application of Jude’s epistle can you make for yourself? How can Christians reduce their chances of ‘forgetting’ what they have already learned regarding the life of faith and obedience to Christ? What is it Jude wanted his readers to remember? What did he think was so important for them to never forget?  It is this:
“[T]he Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. (verses 5b-7)
For some historical perspective, we learn from the book of Numbers there were more than 600,000 men in Israel over the age of 20 (1:46). We then learn in Numbers 14:29, Jude 5, and Hebrews 3:12-19 that ALL 600,000 died in the wilderness. NONE of them entered the Promised Land. Why? Because of their sin and unbelief (Hebrews 3:17-19). Do we wonder why Jude then goes on to remind his readers of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the fall of Satan and his demons?
What’s the point? Paul tells us, “Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction . . . Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:11-12)
The Holy Spirit, through Jude, simply reiterates the warning in the verses we are now looking at. God wants to remind Jude’s readers that the Christian life is not something we do one time at an altar or at a baptismal font, and then we go on with life.
No. The Christian life is a continuous, day by day carrying our cross. Jesus never promised that following Him would be easy. On the contrary, He promised it would be arduous. That’s why continuous conversion is so necessary for the Christian. We must go ever deeper in our relationship with the Savior.

How do you plan to do that, to grow in your faithful and obedient relationship with the Lord Jesus? What steps will you take?

Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.


We continue our study next time.

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Take Five with Jude
Part Nine



We come back to the same text we examined in the last study, verses five through seven. We do so because although written to the first century readers, this section carries an important warning to the 21st century church as well.

This is how the New Living Translation renders these verses: So I want to remind you, though you already know these things, that Jesus first rescued the nation of Israel from Egypt, but later he destroyed those who did not remain faithful. And I remind you of the angels who did not stay within the limits of authority God gave them but left the place where they belonged. God has kept them securely chained in prisons of darkness, waiting for the great day of judgment. And don’t forget Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring towns, which were filled with immorality and every kind of sexual perversion. Those cities were destroyed by fire and serve as a warning of the eternal fire of God’s judgment.”

We looked last time at the 600,000 men and women of Israel who never made it into the Promised Land because of their unbelief. When we review Israel’s frequent rebellions against God, we can better understand the broader meaning behind this statement of those, “who did not remain faithful.”

It is axiomatic, what we believe gives birth to what we do, and ancient Israel’s near continual disobedience to God gave clear evidence of their underlying unbelief.

Jude follows his reminder of God’s judgment of Israel with a reminder of God’s judgment on angels, and on Sodom, Gomorrah and the surrounding areas.

Many scholars look to Isaiah 14:12-21 and Ezekiel 28:12-19 for explanation and clarification of Jude’s comment about the angels God judged. The ‘day of judgment’ is an ominous reference to the ultimate destiny of Satan and his demons in the Lake of Fire (see Revelation 20:10-15). And then Jude refers to Sodom, Gomorrah, and the neighboring towns “which were filled with immorality and every kind of sexual perversion. Those cities were destroyed by fire and serve as a warning of the eternal fire of God’s judgment.”

It is no longer uncommon to hear pastors, theologians, and high-ranking churchmen and women reinterpret the clear warning of Scripture regarding sexual immoralities and perversions. Nor is it uncommon that these modern day Judases attract large followings. St. Paul referred to such people in his second letter to Timothy:

I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4:1-4)

Through Jude, the Holy Spirit made a point to remind humanity of God’s holiness – and of His judgment against those who persist in their sins.

Fast forward to today. Do you believe Scripture is the inerrant, transcultural, and infallible word of God? If not, then what forms your decisions about how you live your life and conduct your lifestyle?

On the other hand, if you do believe Scripture is the inerrant, transcultural, and infallible word of God, then have you made it fully authoritative over your life and lifestyle? If not, why not?

For good reason Jesus warned: And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7:26-27)


We examine the next section of Jude’s letter in part ten.

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TAKE Five
Part ten

In the last few studies we spent time with this text: 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. And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.

Now let’s turn our attention to the follow-on verses:

Yet these men are defiling their bodies by their filthy fantasies in just the same way; they show utter contempt for authority and make a jest of the heavenly glories. But I would remind you that even the archangel Michael when he was contending with the devil in the dispute over the body of Moses did not dare to condemn him with mockery. He simply said, the Lord rebuke you! (JB Phillips)

While the Greek word for ‘dreams’ in verse eight means ‘dreams’ as is normally understood, many translators understand Jude’s use of the Greek word to be a metaphor for being ‘beguiled with sensual images.” That’s probably why JB Phillips translated the word as ‘filthy fantasies.” The KJV translators rendered it, ‘filthy dreamers.’

According to a 2018 report in CharismaNews.com (see link below), pornography is ravaging its way through churches. The report found 68 percent of church-going men and over 50 percent of pastors view pornography on a regular basis. Of young Christian adults 18-24 years old, 76 percent actively search for pornography. 33 percent of women aged 25-and-under search for pornography at least once per month. Only 13 percent of self-identified Christian women say they never watch pornography. Put another way, 87 percent of Christian women have watched pornography.

God will not be mocked. When pornography permeates the Church, you and I must be extraordinarily vigilant to stand against sin – ALL sin, not just sexual sin – in our own lives and in our own homes. And we must expect holy lifestyles from our pastors. In the context of sexual sin in the Corinthian church, St. Paul warned, Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?” (1 Corinthians 5:6)

What are you watching and reading? Would you do so if Jesus were physically sitting next to you? That might be a good rule of thumb by which to decide what is proper for us and what is not.

Jude’s comment about the dispute between Michael the Archangel and the chief fallen angel, the devil, about Moses’ body is a conundrum to most Bible commentators. I think the point Jude is making here is that while many people – mere creatures as we are – routinely blaspheme God, curse with His holy name, and mocking even the idea of angelic beings, the archangel, Michael, did not curse the devil. Instead, Michael gave honor to God and rebuked the devil in the name of the Lord God.

Are you careful about your use of God’s name? Of Jesus’ name?

We continue our look into Jude’s letter next time.



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TAKE Five
Part eleven

Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever. (Verses 11-13)

In the preceding verses, Jude referred to fallen angels and Sodom and Gomorrah as examples of God’s LIMITED patience, and His inevitable judgment on those who persist in sin. Jude now turns our attention to three examples – one might call them prototypes of common sins – Cain, Balaam, and Korah.

Here is what we know of Cain, the first-born of Adam and Eve after their exile from the Garden of Eden:

“So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:3-8)

Commentators speculate about why God rejected Cain’s gift and He accepted Abel’s. Did God reject Cain’s because it wasn’t a blood sacrifice, as was his brother’s? Perhaps. Yet Scripture tells us God accepts grain offerings as well as animal sacrifices (see Leviticus 2; 6:14-23, Hebrews 9:22). Perhaps it was Cain’s attitude when he brought the sacrifice – a begrudging attitude? Scripture is silent about his attitude prior to the divine rejection, so I don’t think it wise to insist that was the reason for the rejection. (By the way, see 2 Corinthians 9:6-7)

But whatever the reason, a more important point is to be made about Cain’s attitude AFTER God rejected his gift. He was angry – and not just angry, the text tells us he was very angry at God.

Have you ever gotten angry at God when something terrible happened in your life, or the life of someone you loved? Were you angry that God didn’t answer your prayers the way you wanted Him to answer them? Perhaps you have not – but there are some reading this who have been, and perhaps are STILL angry at God.

Before we go back to Jude’s reference, let’s look at God’s response to Cain’s anger. I suspect He says the same thing to those today who are angry – very angry – with God.

Notice God doesn’t whip Cain. He doesn’t crush him into the dirt. He doesn’t even yell at him. But what does God do?  He asks him a question, a question designed to stop the young man from continuing down a dangerous road:

“Cain, why are you angry? Why the downcast look on your face?” Then God gives him a warning rooted in His love for the young man – and we can easily make the application to us: “Sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”  

Unfortunately, Cain didn’t listen to God’s warning. Instead, he let his anger fester, and its wormwood root gave birth to poisonous fruit. He murdered his brother. And when God asked where Abel was, Cain dismissed the question with the callous, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Uh, yes, Cain. You are. And God requires the same of you and me (see Matthew 25:31-46). We, too, are our ‘brothers’ keeper.’ No wonder Jude says, “Woe to them” who have followed in Cain’s footsteps. (Jude 1:11)

Cain’s anger become his master. The apostle Paul’s words in his letter to the church at Rome are instructive for us (Romans 6:12-14): “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you . . . (Romans 6:12-14a)

How would this story have changed if Cain had humbled himself before God, and repented of his anger? Much better, we can be sure. But more to the point, how can YOUR story change – even in the middle of your circumstances – if you humble yourself before God, and repent?
We look at Baalam and Korah next time.
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TAKE Five
Part twelve

“Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.  (Jude 1:11)

As examples of God’s limited patience and his inevitable judgment on those who persist in sin, Jude gave several examples, The first was the 600,000 Israelites whom God destroyed during the wilderness wanderings. Jude then mentions God’s judgment on the fallen angels (called demons). He also cites Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities. Then Jude looks to Cain, Balaam, and Korah.

We looked at Cain in lesson 11. We now turn our attention to Balaam.  We find his story in Numbers 22 through 24, Numbers 31:1-16, and Revelation 2:14.

Moses tells us in Numbers 22 that Israel, during their meanderings through the wilderness, set up camp in the plains of the country of Moab. Balak, the king of Moab, feared Israel because of their vast numbers. So, he sent messengers to Balaam, a prophet of Moab, asking him to curse the people saying: “For I know that he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed.” (Numbers 22:6)

When Balak’s emissaries arrived with the fees for divination, Balaam told them to wait until he spoke with the Lord God about their offer. We pick up the story in verse nine: “Then God came to Balaam and said, “Who are these men with you?” Balaam said to God, “Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, has sent word to me, ‘Behold, there is a people who came out of Egypt and they cover the surface of the land; now come, curse them for me; perhaps I may be able to fight against them and drive them out.’” God said to Balaam, “Do not go with them; you shall not curse the people, for they are blessed.” (verses 9-12)

Balaam then told Balak’s messengers that he could not go with them to curse the people whom God had blessed. But a few verses later, Balak upped the ante. He sent more numerous and more distinguished emissaries to Balaam – AND more money as well.

It is said, rightly or wrongly, “Every man has his price.” Judas had his, and Balaam had his. We don’t know how much Balak offered the prophet, but that isn’t the point. What IS the point is, “When God says, ‘No,’ His decree is not open to negotiation.

“Balaam replied to the servants of Balak, “Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not do anything, either small or great, contrary to the command of the Lord my God. Now please, you also stay here tonight, and I will find out what else the Lord will speak to me.” God came to Balaam at night and said to him, “If the men have come to call you, rise up and go with them; but only the word which I speak to you shall you do.” (verses 18-20)

At first blush, it seems Balaam simply wanted to ask God for further instructions. But we learn from the context of all the texts related to Balaam (see above) that his motive was not pure. He hoped God would change his mind. “After all,” he likely thought to himself, “look at all the honor and money the great king Balak is offering.”

But when Balaam saw how serious God was about protecting Israel – (God tried to kill the prophet three times while on his way to Moab) Balaam had no choice but to bless the people as God told him to do.

However – and this is the crux of the matter – Balaam was able to figure out how he could obey God and bless Israel, but to also get his wages from Balak. He told the king to introduce sexual temptations into Israel’s camp. When they succumbed to those temptations, God Himself would decimate Israel’s numbers.

Jude warned his readers, “Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam . . ..  (Jude 1:11)

Cain’s guilt lay in his unfettered anger, arrogance, and ‘poor-me’ attitude. And Balaam was more interested in money and the honor of men, than in obeying God.

We have much to learn from Balaam’s self-interest. The prophet Samuel rebuked Israel’s first king, Saul: “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. (1 Samuel 15:22-23, NLT)

And the Lord Jesus rebuked the religious leaders in His day: How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?” (John 5:44)

You and I ought to often ask ourselves this most fundamental question regarding our loyalties. It’s the same question Elijah asked of Israel during the reign of Ahab and Jezebel: “If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” (1 Kings 18:21).  

So, at the close of this lesson, this might be an appropriate prayer: Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” (Psalm 139:23-24)

Amen.

TAKE Five
Part thirteen

“Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.  (Jude 1:11)

We looked at Cain and Balaam in the last two studies. Now we look at Korah. We find his story in Numbers 16. We look only at the first few verses, but I urge you to read the entire chapter for context.
“Now Korah . . . the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram . . . rose up before Moses, together with some of the sons of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, chosen in the assembly, men of renown. They assembled together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, “You have gone far enough, for all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is in their midst; so why do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?”

God appointed Moses at the burning bush to rescue His people from Pharaoh’s slavery. After the Exodus, God appointed Moses’ brother, Aaron, to be High Priest (Exodus 28:1). Moses and Aaron were from the tribe of Levi (Levi was one of the twelve sons of Israel).

Korah also was a Levite – but with different God-ordained responsibilities. All who functioned as priests (responsible for performing various sacrifices in their worship) were Levites, but not all Levites functioned as priests. Some Levitical clans were responsible for the transport and maintenance of the holy Tabernacle and its furnishings (see Numbers chapter four).

God chose Moses to lead His people from slavery in Egypt. But Korah had a problem with that choice. “You have gone far enough,” Korah accused. “For all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is in their midst; so why do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?”

In a word, Korah was jealous. Spitting-mad jealous. And his jealousy destroyed him, his wife, and children, and all those of the 250 who followed his rebellion against God’s anointed (Numbers 16:25-33)

The apostle James wrote truth when he warned: “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. (James 3:14-16)

Jealousy of the kind Korah displayed is nothing less than demonic. That’s a pretty strong word, ‘demonic,’ but the Holy Spirit guided the apostle to purposely use that word as a warning to his readers – which include you and me.

It was jealousy that caused Joseph’s brothers to sell him into slavery (see Genesis 37). It was the synagogue leaders’ jealousy that almost got Paul and his companions killed in Thessalonica (Acts 17:1-10). And notice his warning to the elders of the Ephesian church: “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore, be on the alert . . ..” (Acts 20:29-31)

Yes, bitter jealousy and selfish ambition are not only antithetical to the love Christ insists we show toward one another, jealousy of that kind is nothing less than demonic. We become tools in the sulfuric hands of Satan when we let jealousy take root in our spirits

Are you jealous of another’s successes? Their ministry? Their possessions? Their family? Their wealth? Their lifestyle? Be careful! Korah’s jealousy ended up destroying him, along with a lot of other people and their families.

And make no mistake: Our jealousies will also eventually destroy us, our families, and those who follow our examples.

What is the remedy for jealousy? In a word, ‘Repentance’; Honest and humble repentance. As soon as we recognize that sin sinking its talons into our spirits, we should force ourselves to stop entertaining those thoughts, and simultaneously ask God to forgive us and to change us.

The Lord’s words in Mark 7:20-23 apply here: That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”

Join me in this prayer, won’t you?
Oh, Holy Spirit, I only want to honor Jesus. Help me submit more closely to You. Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, and I shall keep them to the end. Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart. Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, For I delight in them.  Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to greed or jealousy. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Based on Psalms 119 and Psalm 51)

Amen.
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Take Five
Part Fourteen

“Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam and perished in the rebellion of Korah.  (Jude 1:11)

In the last two studies we looked at Cain and Balaam. We now turn our attention to Korah. We find his story in Numbers 16. We will look only at the first few verses, but I urge you to read the entire chapter for context.
“Now Korah . . . the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram . . . rose up before Moses, together with some of the sons of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, chosen in the assembly, men of renown. They assembled together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, “You have gone far enough, for all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is in their midst; so why do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?”

God appointed Moses at the burning bush to rescue His people from Pharaoh’s slavery. God also appointed Moses’ brother, Aaron, to be High Priest (Exodus 28:1). Moses and Aaron were from the tribe of Levi (Levi was one of the twelve sons of Israel). Korah also was a Levite – but with different God-ordained responsibilities.

All who functioned as priests (responsible for performing various sacrifices in their worship) were Levites, but not all Levites functioned as priests. Some Levitical clans were instead responsible for the transport and maintenance of the Tabernacle and its furnishings (see Numbers chapter four).

God chose Moses to lead His people from Egypt. But there is more to slavery than simply physical. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So, if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”  (John 8:34-36)

Through the millennia, God sent prophets and teachers to lead His people, not only from physical slavery, but also from spiritual slavery (see 2 Chronicles 36:15-16). But Satan has always raised up his disciples to thwart God’s plan. And that is why God gave us leaders within His church – to guide, nurture, and protect us from false teachers.

St. Paul wrote to the Christians at Ephesus, “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming.” (Ephesians 4:11-14)

Just as Satan raised up Korah and his follower to usurp Moses, the devil has raised up Korahs throughout history to stand against God’s appointed leaders. Paul warned the Christians at Corinth – and by extension, he warns us in the 21st century: “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore, it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15) 

It's important that we distinguish between God-appointed and God-obeying leaders. Not all of God’s appointed leaders end up obeying God. For example, God appointed King Saul to lead His people, but he soon apostatized himself (see 1 Samuel chapters 9 and 15). God appointed Jeroboam to lead ten of the twelve tribes of Israel, but he also soon apostatized himself (1 Kings chapters 11 and 12). Jesus chose Judas (John 6:70), and we know how that turned out.

How do we know a God-appointed leader is also a God-obeying leader? That’s an easy question to answer. God tells us through Isaiah, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isaiah 8:20, AKJV) In other words, if the leader teaches AND obeys what the Scriptures and the Church has taught since its inception, we can be confident he or she is man or woman of God.

That is why it is necessary for Christians in the pew to learn the Scriptures, otherwise they cannot know if their pastor is accurately teaching God’s truths.

When St. Paul and his companions fled Thessalonica after preaching Christ to the people there, they settled in the city of Berea. St. Luke tells us: “When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” (Acts 17:10-11)

God commended the laity in Berea because they checked the Scriptures daily to verify what St. Paul was teaching. If God commended them for verifying Paul’s teaching, no pastor today should discourage their flock from verifying what he teaches from the pulpit. Be suspicious of the pastor who dissuades the flock from studying God’s word.

Do you consistently follow a plan to read and study your Bible every day? If not, will you start one today? You can find many annual Bible reading plans on the internet. If you do not have access to the internet, ask your pastor, or a Christian friend to recommend a Bible reading plan.

Korah, along with Cain, and Balaam were tares among the wheat (see Matthew 13:25-40). They were – and people like them continue to be – hidden reefs in our assemblies (Jude 1:12). A good knowledge of God’s word is our best defense against the wolves in sheep clothing.


Take Five
Part Fifteen

The Holy Spirit never wastes words, and the words Jude uses to describe the children of Satan in our midst ought to be instructive for us. Several lessons ago we looked at Jude’s comment in verse four of his epistle: “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”

That verse is part of the context for verses 12-13 in which Jude refers specifically to people like Cain, Balaam, and Korah: “These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.” (verses 12-13)

In the last few studies, I have used the phrase, ‘children of Satan,’ several times. This is a good time now to detour a moment to clarify.

Scripture is unambiguous in telling us that while all men and women are created by God, NOT ALL are children of God. Only those who have been born again through their baptismal faith in Christ have the right to be called God’s children.

For example: St. John tells us, Christ “was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:0-13)
St. Paul writes: “But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. . . . For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (Romans 8:9b, 14)

Jesus told the clergy of His day: “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father.” (John 8:44a)

St. John also cautions us: “By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God . . ..” (1 John 3:10a)
This is not an inconsequential Biblical point. To believe all humanity are God’s children is to swing open a Pandora’s Box of heretical theology that requires no repentance and no need for a lifestyle of holiness. Such a devilish perception of God makes Him more like a dotting grandfather than, as the writer of Hebrews describes Him, a ‘consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). It is no accident that the same writer warns those who persist in sin: “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:31)

We should expect that apostates like Cain, Balaam, or Korah would be in many of our churches. The ‘hidden reefs’ Jude speaks of are carefully placed by the devil to shipwreck as many souls as he can get away with.

Satan is not a red-suited, horned and pitchfork carrying cartoon character. He is a smooth-talking and very attractive angel of light, and his children often have letters such as Ph.D., Th.D., or LL.D after their names. That’s why we spent time in the last lesson learning to distinguish godly leadership from deceptive leadership.

And it is why I now ask the same question as I did in lesson 14. I am purposely redundant because the way you answer the question has everything to do with your maturity in Christ AND your spiritual safety from our enemy who, as St. Peter tells us, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
Here is the question again: Do you consistently follow a plan to read and study your Bible every day? If not, will you start one today? You can find many annual Bible reading plans on the internet. If you do not have access to the internet, ask your pastor, or a Christian friend to recommend a Bible reading plan.
God the Holy Spirit moved St. Peter to urge you and me: “[L]ike newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:2).

There is simply no shortcut to spiritual maturity than knowing God’s word. That’s the way God designed spiritual maturity to blossom.

Take Five
Part 16

Take Five

Part sixteen

 

“It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.” (Jude 1:14-16)

 

Before we get too far into these two verses, let’s first look at who Enoch was and what his story can teach us.

 

We first find reference to him in Genesis 5:18-24 – “Jared lived one hundred and sixty-two years and became the father of Enoch. Then Jared lived eight hundred years after he became the father of Enoch, and he had other sons and daughters. So, all the days of Jared were nine hundred and sixty-two years, and he died. Enoch lived sixty-five years and became the father of Methuselah. Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters. So, all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.”

 

Enoch is also listed in Jesus’ genealogy (Luke 3:37) and we find him in the ‘faith chapter’ of Hebrews 11:5-6.

 

The first point we should note about Enoch is his age when he was 'taken up': 365. His father, Jared, lived to be 962 years old. Jared’s father lived 895 years. In fact, the average age of those listed in Genesis 5 from Adam until Noah was around 780 years (I did not include Enoch’s age in that average).

 

There is no good reason for those who believe the Bible to be inerrant to scoff at the phenomenal ages to which people lived in those early days of Genesis. Moses, who wrote the Genesis account, was not ignorant. He was trained in all the wisdom of Egypt (Acts 7:22). The man certainly knew how to count! And he certainly knew the general lifespan of men and women in his day. But God revealed to Moses the longevity of early humans after Adam, just as He revealed to him the details of Genesis one through three.

 

We can accept the Biblical record about creation because God gave us the history through Moses. Unless the context surrounding a passage is clearly intended to be symbolic or allegory, we can also accept God’s word about the longevity of those men listed in Genesis chapter five.

 

I want to now draw attention to Enoch’s relationship with God to that point, and the age at which God took him up to heaven. Moses tells us, “Enoch walked with God.” He was essentially a ‘youngster’ when God took him at 365 years of age. Enoch did not die. He was simply taken up to God’s throne.

 

Have you ever cried out to God when some young person you knew – especially someone who walked with God to the best of their fledgling knowledge and ability – have you ever cried to God and asked why He took them in the ‘prime’ of their life?

 

Perhaps Isaiah has at least a partial answer to your question: “The righteous man perishes, and no man takes it to heart; And devout men are taken away, while no one understands. For the righteous man is taken away from evil, he enters into peace; They rest in their beds, each one who walked in his upright way.” (Isaiah 57:1-3) 

 

Concluding today’s lesson, I want to draw attention again to a phrase in verse 22. Here are several translations of the first part of that verse:

 

Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah.” (NASB) [See Bible translations below]

 

After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years.” (NIV)

 

“Enoch walked with God after he begot Methuselah for three hundred years.” (NABRE)

 

“And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years.” (KJV)

 

“And Enoch walketh habitually with God after his begetting Methuselah three hundred years.” (YLT)

 

The Hebrew text suggests Enoch did NOT walk closely with God for the first 65 years of his life. He might not have been walking at all with God during those years. Not until he has his first son did his attitude toward God change.

 

And therein lies a wonderful and exciting message for you and me. Whoever you are, wherever you have been, whatever you have done in the first part of your life until today – God has a way of interrupting our lives and turning us around. Whether something dramatic like the birth of a child, or a marriage, or a divorce, or the death of someone we loved – or something mundane, something we’ve read or heard – the methods God uses to grab our attention are endless, but the purpose of those methods is singular: To open your eyes and your heart so that you will from that point on walk closely with the Savior.

 

Has such a thing ever happened to you? Are you walking closely to Jesus? Perhaps this particular lesson in Jude is God’s wake up call to your own heart.

 

NASB - New American Standard Bible

NIV – New International Version

NABRE – New American Bible Revised Edition

KJV – King James Version

YLT – Young’s Literal Translation


Take Five

Lesson Seventeen


In lesson sixteen we touched on what we know about Enoch. Now let’s explore what Jude himself tells us about the man: “It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.” (Jude 1:14-16)

 

Who are ‘these men’ to whom Jude refers? From the context of the first sixteen verses of Jude we can surmise: ‘These men’ are those who crept unnoticed into their Christian assemblies and taught heretical doctrines.

 

They twisted the meaning of God’s grace into a license to do evil. They denied Jesus’ deity. They not only practiced sexual immorality but encouraged it of others. They rejected God-appointed authorities and imitated the wicked lifestyles of Cain, Balaam, and Korah (verse 11). They grumbled, were arrogant, and flattered others for the sake of gaining an advantage.

 

Jude tells us it is of these wolves in sheep clothing that Enoch’s prophecy applies: “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” (verses 14-15)

 

It was only seven generations after Adam that God gave Enoch a prophecy of the Lord’s second coming, and the warning of God’s wrath that would fall on all the ungodly when He returns (e.g. Matthew 16:27 and Revelation 19:11-16).

 

Some today find this yet-to-be fulfilled prophecy disturbing because it contradicts their preferential view of the New Testament God as one of love, and not judgement. Yet the same New Testament Scriptures tell us, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (see Hebrews 13:8)

 

Yes, God is love. John 3:16 is the most popular text most often referred to – “God so loved the world that He gave . . ..”  But two verses later the Lord adds: 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.” And then there is this last verse of the same chapter: He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

 

The God of John 3:16 is also the same God of Luke 13:27-28 who will say to some at the Judgment Seat:  - ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; depart from Me, all you evildoers.’ In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

The Scriptures provide us many commandments which provide the border within which the Christian must live and work and play. Some of those commandments have to do with a lifestyle of holiness, repentance, love, mercy, self-control, and perseverance.

Think about perseverance in your own Christian walk. Some synonyms are ‘resolve, grit, diligence, doggedness, and endurance.’

Are you diligent, dogged, and resolved to live a lifestyle of holiness, self-control, and repentance? Or are you content to fudge a little here and a little there?

Not only must I answer those questions for myself, I must also decide virtually hour by hour whether I will persevere in doing the right things.

God never promises the Christian life would be an easy life. Rather, He promised it would be a battle (e.g. Romans 8:5-8; James 4:1-4; Galatians 5:13-17) for which we must learn to use spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:10-18).

What changes in your lifestyle will you ask the Lord to help you make? Will you ask Him to help you persevere in your desire to walk more fully in the way in which all God’s children ought to walk?

In the first half of Jude’s epistle, the Holy Spirit focuses our attention on the negative: what not to do. In the second half of this epistle, God changes focus to the positive: What we ought to do.

We turn our attention to those challenges next time.