Looking at part two of this short book of Jude which is uncannily appropriate for our culture today. Jude has as much to say to us as he did in the first century.
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. 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. 8 Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones.
Jude is reminding the readers that Jesus, interestingly enough, who saved people from their bondage turned around and destroyed those who did not believe. He is using the picture that some people who started out with God, do not finish with him. This is a scary theology but one that is consistent in the New Testament. The need to endure and overcome and continue on. This is so prevalent through all the letters of the New Testament even though it flies in the face of our once saved always saved mindset. Rescued people can and will still be destroyed if they return to their unbelief.
Jude continues on to use a common Jewish metaphor of the angels trapped in there abode after abandoning their proper positions of authority. This may be referring to the fall. Or to the Nephalim from Genesis 3 which I don’t personally buy into because that tradition comes more from the book of Enoch which is not considered cannon rather than from the Genesis account itself. Either way the idea is clear these angels formerly had a place of honor but chose to leave it and are now judged. It is a similar idea with the previous verse. These men from verse 4 have abandoned God and gone their own way. An interesting thing here is in the Greek for “the eternal chains under gloomy darkness” until the judgement uses a word in the Greek only used one other time in the Bible from Job from the Septuagint, The word is TARTAROS. In Greek mythology this refers to the deepest darkest nether regions of Hades where other gods who were judged have been imprisoned. The similarity of the traditions is very interesting and may point to some other reality that we are not privy to, but the message is still the same. This kind of sin requires special judgment. A kind for a group of people that once knew better and chose to do it anyway.
Verse seven is a third example of the coming judgment for those who corrupt the message of Jesus. Jude reminds the readers of the stories of Sodom and Gomorrah and their judgment for similar sexual immorality and unnatural desire just as the these false teachers have similarly bent the message of grace to allow for. These cities are an example of judgment with fire of what happens when God is abandoned and personal sensual desires are put first. Some have taken the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah and tried to reduce it to simply a failure of hospitality. Well it was definitely that at the lowest level, but at the highest level it is accosting, attacking, molesting, and attempting rape and murder. I know that Ezekiel mentions a lack of hospitality as one of the sins but that was not the extent of the problem. To undermine the serious charges for the easier to swallow less political charged sin of a lack of hospitality is an exercise of obtuseness that only a culture with such a moral decline as ours can manufacture. But just in case this is our temptation Jude goes ahead and spells out that the sexual immorality and unnatural desires were the problems here.
He prefaces his argument with the “Just” in other words those sins are similar to the ones that current problem paves the way for. “Just” as a lack of moral compass leads to sexual immorality and unnatural desires paved the way to the perversion that Sodom and Gomorrah were judged for. So do the false teachers application of grace and misuse of the Bible. Just as the first were judged so will the second.
Jude 8 continues on to comment of the nature and behavior of these false teachers. He says that they rely on their dreams probably referring to the fact that they are not relying of the once delivered faith but dream up their own ways to communicate their teachings. They defile the flesh probably another reference to the sexual nature that their easy treatment of grace leads to. They continue to reject authority. Not sure if this is simply the authority that was laid down by the true faith or if in compounding that sin they continue to reject the disciples authority to call them out on their doctrine. This last statement is very interesting it says they blaspheme the glorious ones.
Our application is Jude says that Jesus who once forgives and brings someone near is not beyond casting that same person away if they fail to remain in belief. He gives the example of those who left Egypt with Moses but grumbled and abandoned the people of God with their behavior. This is a scary truth but a sober reminder about how this point is tied to conduct and obedience especially those of the false teachers.
Again is that God is not overlooking in grace those who pervert his teaching and use it for sexual immorality. God has laid out rules of sex that he expects his creation to follow. No amount of finagling with his own gracious nature changes what he has said is OK or not. The scarier thing here is that God is saying a special judgments awaits those who pervert his words and lead people astray. The take away here is that faithful followers of God need to remind people that God’s word is sure even in the face of shifting culture that wants more license for their sexual preferences. God takes this issue seriously, especially so among his own body who distort his words in order to allow this kind of behavior. This is why the church has to be careful who teaches the people. As Jesus and Paul teach a little leaven leavens the whole lump.