Continuing the series in Jude.
9 But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” 10 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. 11 Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. 12 These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever. (ESV)
Verse 9 fills the in the gap of who the glorious ones are.Taking from Jewish tradition again Jude mentions the disputed body of Moses that Michael fought with the Devil over. Even Michael who we assume would likely have the authority to pronounce a judgement on the Devil refrains but lets God be the one who brings judgment on Him. In contrast to this humility these men seem to be cavalier in their addressing of the glorious ones whether angel or demons. If Michael was prudent in his handling of the Devil shouldn’t we as creatures created lower than the angels use at least a similar demeanor when dealing with the glorious ones?
Continuing in this vein Jude says that these men blaspheme all that they do not understand. They act like foolish animals only using instinct instead of using their minds given to them by God. They act on natural impulses rather than relying of God. This is especially dangerous as our natural state is one that is enslaved by sin. An unconverted heart is still left to the whims of the enemy. When our natures are not under the protective hand of God then we act out the only resources available to us: our base natural desires. They reject faith because they cannot engage it without the help of the spirit. Especially in this case a faith that was given to them from God. They inform their own theology and demonology instead of letting God inform them and thus they are destroyed in their ignorance.
Jude gives three more example of prideful people and groups who tried to do it there way as Sinatra famously sang. Cain who killed his brother Able out of jealousy over a better given offering to the Lord. God warned him that sin was at his door waiting to overtake him. If he would have only repented and softened his heart, but instead he went his own way. He is the first murderer and the father of murderers. Those who do it their way. The second example is of Balaam’s error, of chasing gain in order to curse the people of God. He knew that God was real and that he favored Israel but Balaam chose to align himself with the highest bidder. His own dumb ass was smarter than him in the epic tale of his donkey talking to him because he did not see his destiny of futility at opposing God. The third example is of a group of people who wanted to usurp authority from Moses God’s chosen leader of Israel and perished in their arrogance and attempt at mutiny.
Jude again uses three example of the emptiness of these individuals. They feast with you in secret feeding only themselves. They share in communion while they secretly undermine the whole thing. They are supposed to lead but feed only themselves, their message does not feed, their flock is starving while they are well fed. They are clouds that do not bring rain to a dry a desert. They have no purpose but to be blown around by the wind. They cause an expectation of hope but bring only death. They are like trees with no root, they do not bear fruit and they take up space in the garden and even in that latest of the season they still do not yield a crop.
Jude uses yet more imagery to paint the picture of their utter uselessness in the kingdom of God. They are waves that do not contribute to the tides but only bring a dirtier foam to coat the shores. They are stars that wander the skies in darkness. Their light does not contribute to lighting up the sky or being in one place to aid in direction on a dark night. They are futile.
For application God does not view these people in high esteem at all. God will not hear these people and God will not feel sorry for people who follow them either. Jude uses so many different pictures here to communicate these men’s uselessness before God. Jude seems to think that God takes the perverting of his Word very seriously, our take away is so should his people. God is calling for repentance, but will the people hear? Will we hear a message that sounds so harsh to people who are teaching his own? Will we believe that people holding the place of Pastor might have strong charges against them? This is a serious charge and it is important to note that this is after the resurrection and giving of the Spirit. It is not like these charges and call to repentance are before we moved into the softer grace filled covenant. God is very upset with the mishandling of his word and the leading of his flock astray. As James reminds not many of us should desire to be teachers because we will ensue a stricter judgment. A scary and sobering thought. This is a sobering reminder to those who desire the office of an overseer. The Bible says such desires are a good thing but we have to remember the weight of the responsibility as well. It is OK to question your leaders when they are leading the people into sin.