2021 – The Others
Sweet Pickles Spoiled
Last week, we began studying our final no-chapter book in the New Testament… the letter of Jude. We discovered that Jude was a half-brother of Jesus. He wrote to a Christian-Jewish community, probably in the 60s AD. He wrote to a group of people, he referred to, as called, loved and kept for Jesus. He used a pickle metaphor. We are kept in the sweet juices of God’s mercy, in the joy of His peace with double doses of love. We are sweet pickles being kept for Christ to open in the next age.
However, we also discovered the letter of Jude is not a sweet pickles letter. It is a letter of warning. Jude urges his people to contend for the faith that was being threaten by certain men who had crept into their fellowship. These creeps were perverting the grace of God into a reason to sin.
YLT Jude 4 For there did come in unobserved certain men, long ago having been written beforehand to this judgment, impious, the grace of our God perverting to lasciviousness, and our only Master, God, and Lord -- Jesus Christ – denying!
The majority of the letter of Jude is a series of examples showing what happens to people who pervert the grace of God into sexual sin. Those who would use God’s grace to seduce others are reminded of how God deals with twisting of his love. Jude references seven stories and six metaphors as he repeatably makes this point. Let me make sure we know the point… God punishes those who pervert his grace.
Put on your track shoes… we are going to make this point… 13 times.
Story-Example 1: Israel’s Rebellion
Jude 5 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.
You know the story of the Exodus. After ten plagues, Pharaoh releases the children of Israel. They cross the Red Sea. The travel quickly to Mount Sinai. Moses goes up to get the Ten Commandments. He is gone a long time. The people get restless. They convince Aaron to make a golden calf.
NLT Exodus 32:6So the people got up early the next morning to sacrifice burnt offerings and peace offerings. After this, they celebrated with feasting and drinking, and indulged themselves in pagan revelry.
Exodus 32:27-28 And Moses said to them, "Thus says the LORD God of Israel, 'Put your sword on your side each of you, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp, and each of you kill his brother and his companion and his neighbor.'" And the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And that day about three thousand men of the people fell.
These Israelites perverted the grace of God, which had delivered them from slavery, into pagan revelry! God punished them.
Story-Example 2: Angels
Jude 6 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.
This story-example is not quite as familiar. It is connected to Genesis 6.
Genesis 6:2 The sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose.
This story is told in the book of Enoch. Enoch is not a book in the Bible. Enoch was popular book among Jews and Christians of Jude’s time. According to the book of Enoch, the sons of God, also known as angels or Watchers, lusted after human women and came to earth and took human wives. According to Enoch this led to the corruption of humans and resulted in the flood.
Genesis 6:5-7 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So, the LORD said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them."
These angels were bound in chains under the earth until the judgement.
The grace of creation was perverted into lust. God punishment with the flood.
Story-Example 3: Sodom and Gomorrah
YLT Jude 7 as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them, in like manner to these, having given themselves to whoredom, and gone after other flesh, have been set before -- an example, of fire age-during, justice suffering.
We are back to a story we know. When the angels went to the Sodom to warn Lot and his family, the men of the town wanted to have sex with the angels. This is the reverse of the previous story where angels wanted to have sex with humans. We know the punishment for these towns… they were destroyed by fire.
Perversion of Grace… punished by God.
Story-Example 4: Assumption of Moses
Jude 8-10 Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. 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." But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand.
This is another story we are not familiar with. Scholars think this is a story written in another popular book in Jude’s time; the Assumption of Moses. This book is about the transition when Moses retired and Joshua took over the command of the children of Israel. The Assumption of Moses, contains the story of Moses’ death. In this story, Michael, the arch-angel is debating with another angel, the devil, over the body of Moses. The devil is claiming the body of Moses because Moses had sinned. But Michael is going to give Moses an honorable burial. In this argument between Michael and Satan; two angels, Michael does not blaspheme the devil. Michael leaves judgment to the LORD.
Here is the point, I think. All are under the judgment of the LORD. Even the archangel Michael is submissive to the law of the LORD. He will not speak against God’s creation. These certain men, the creeps, reject authority, deny they are under any of God’s law… speak against creation.
They pervert the grace of God by blaspheming all authority.
Metaphor-Example 1: Unreasoning Animals
NLT Jude 10 But these people mock and curse the things they do not understand. Like animals, they do whatever their instincts tell them, and they bring about their own destruction.
I kind of feel Jude is insulting animals. But his point is the creeps are driven by instinct. They don’t use their reasoning. They behave like wild animals. Following these base instincts led to their destruction!
Story-Example 5: Cain
Jude 11 Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain.
Here is a story we know… Cain the first son of Adam and Eve was jealous of his brother and killed him. Jealousy drives these creeps to hurt others. We know that Cain was punished!
God punished the animal-like instinct of Cain.
Story-Example 6: Balaam
Jude 11 abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam's error…
The leaders of Moab and Midian were afraid of the Children of Israel as they wondered toward the Promise Land. So, they hired a professional curser. It’s a great job if you can get it. Balaam took their money and went to curse Israel. But the curse backfired into a blessing. God told Balaam, by speaking through a donkey, to not curse them but bless them. Balaam came up with plan B. Seduce the Israelite men into sexual sin. God will punish them, himself. This plan worked. The women of Moab seduced the men of Israel into sexual immorality. God sent a plague to punish the immoral.
God’s gracious blessing was perverted by sexual immorality… and was punished. The same thing is going to happen to Jude’s sweet pickles if they are seduced.
Story-Example 7: Korah’s Rebellion
Jude 11 perished in Korah's rebellion.
You may remember this story. In Numbers 16 Korah and a bunch of other leaders challenged the authority of Moses.
Korah challenges Moses…
Numbers 16:13 “Is it a small thing that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, that you must also make yourself a prince over us?”
Numbers 16:19-33 Then Korah assembled all the congregation against them at the entrance of the tent of meeting. And the glory of the LORD appeared to all the congregation. And the LORD spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, "Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment." 31 And as soon as he had finished speaking all these words, the ground under them split apart. And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the people who belonged to Korah and all their goods. So, they and all that belonged to them went down alive into Sheol, and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly.
Perverting the grace of God by challenging right and wrong is punished. God is in charge. God’s grace should produce obedience. Following the authority of God leads to blessings. Rebellion leads to punishment.
That is all seven story-examples. Let’s knock out the rest of the metaphors…
Metaphor-Example 2: Blemishes on Love Feasts
Jude 12 These are blemishes on your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, looking after themselves.
The agape feasts were meals shared together in conjunction with the Lord’s Supper. This time together was precious. But these certain men, with their sexual immorality, were ugly sores on the beauty of these meals. Something precious perverted! Our sharing the Lord’s Supper is precious. We must keep it pure!
Metaphor-Example 3: Waterless Clouds
Jude 12 waterless clouds, swept along by winds
You see the clouds building over the mountain… you hope for rain… but it does not rain… that is seeing the grace of God and denying it! The certain men were waterless clouds!
Metaphor-Example 4: Fruitless Trees
Jude 12 fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted;
You plant a cherry tree. You nourish it for years. It grows and looks healthy. It never produces any cherries. You cut it down and pull it out of the ground. The grace of God is like cherries but immorality ruins the trees.
Metaphor-Example 5: Wild Waves
Jude 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame;
You stand on the edge of the ocean. The waves are crashing around you. The nasty crude of foam stirs around you… at your feet is like shame being randomly spread around!
Metaphor-Example 6: Wandering Stars
YLT Jude 13 Stars going astray, to whom the gloom of the darkness to the age hath been kept.
Back in Enoch, the thought is angels control the stars. The planets were mistaken as wandering stars… because the false angels were not obedient. These wandering stars are going to be punished.
In first century, there was a body of faith that was delivered to the church by Jesus. This faith was being challenged. God’s grace was being perverted. The message of Jude, which he makes 13 times, is God is going to punish this immoral distortion of His grace.
God wants us to live as sweet pickles in the joy of the abundant sin-free life! We cannot allow the grace of God to be perverted into some kind of excuse to live in sin! Sexual immorality is a show stopper for the people of God… For our congregation!
The message of Jude is… good theology is worth fighting for! Theology matters. Good theology leads to life! Bad theology results in bad behavior which leads to death. God consistently punishes those who pervert his grace!
Accept the Call. Live in the Love. Be Kept for Christ!
Say it… Be… sweet pickles
July 25, 2021
Los Alamos Church of Christ
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