JUST A REMINDEER

Most of the things we tell people isn’t new information.  Often we tell them something they have heard many times before, but we feel the need to remind them.  Much of the Bible is of that same nature.  Some things are brand new information.  But most of the things mentioned have been said before but we are reminded of the truth to make certain it stays at the top of our minds.  In looking at the Book of Jude we see the challenge for them to “Contend earnestly for the faith once for all time delivered to the saints.  He then warned them of false teachers who had crept in among them who turned grace into a license to do as they wanted, ungodly persons who denied the only Master and Lord Jesus Christ.

In verses 5-7 he said, “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 life.”

In order to help the people see the danger of turning back from following the Lord, Jude pulls out three examples that were all very familiar to the people of that day.

The first example he offers is of the Israelites who were delivered from Egyptian bondage through Moses.  They saw the mighty miracles of God both in their deliverance from Egypt and in the wilderness.  Imagine what it would have been like to have been led into a cul-de-sac with the Egyptian army with it’s chariots coming up behind you, the mountains on either side of you, one of which had a garrison of soldiers on top of it and the Red Sea in front of you.  It looked as though they had been led into a trap from which there was no escape.  Then God told them to stand still and see the glory of the Lord.  Moses was told to stretch out his hand with the staff in it over the waters of the Red Sea and the people were told to start walking.  God sent a powerful wind that stopped the flow of the water and on either side of where the Israelites were standing the water banked as a wall and the wind dried up the bottom of the sea so that they could walk across on dry ground to escape from the Egyptians.  When the entire group of people that consisted of 600,000 men plus all the women and children, crossed over God had Moses to stretch his arm out again with the staff in hand over the Red Sea and the waters came back together.  The Egyptian army had followed them into the middle of the bed of the Sea.  But even before the waters came back on them to destroy them, God caused their chariots to wobble and be out of control so that they began to shout that God was fighting against them.

One would think that if they had been delivered by such a powerful demonstration of God’s power they would be ready to lean on God in everything.  But that wasn’t the case.  In truth they would see many more mighty miracles from God.  They would see him bring water out of a rock, turn the bitter waters of Maribah, sweet, deliver them from the Amelikites and give them manna to eat every morning and quail to eat each day.  Beyond all that they should have noticed that their clothes and shoes were not wearing out even though they walked and worked each day.  The greatest demonstration was when God met Moses on the Mount Horeb to give to him the Ten Commandment law, written by the finger of God.

After all of this and much more, they came to the edge of the Promised Land.  God told Moses to choose a leader from each of the twelve tribes to go into the land before them and return to tell how great the land was.  It was supposed to inspire them to be ready to march in and take the land with God’s help.  But the spies returned with ten of them saying, “Oh it is a great land.  It is fruitful ground with huge grapes and vines.  BUT we could never take this land.  The cities are fortified.  There are giants in the land.  We looked like grasshoppers in their sight, as we looked in our own eyes.”  Joshua and Caleb desented declaring that not only was the land good, but that with God’s blessing we can take the land.  They pleaded for the people to march ahead into the land now.  But the people listened to the ten weak, fearful and negative spies and agreed they could never take the land.

God became so frustrated with them and their lack of faith in him that he said, “This generation will never enter into the promised land.  Your carcasses will rot in this wilderness and the sons and daughters you have been fearful of being hurt will go into the new land in your place”  Of all the people of Israel that had come out of Egypt, only two would enter the promised land and that was Joshua and Caleb who trusted God and saw what could be done with His power.

If God’s chosen people, Israel could fall and be lost after first being God’s people, obeying His will, then we should learn that we too can turn back from God and be lost again just as they did.

The second illustration Jude used was of the angels that sinned by not keeping their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode.  There is no record of this event in the Old Testament.  From very early days after the writing of Jude many have believed it refers back to Genesis 6:1-4 when the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose.  “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them.  Those were mighty men who were of old, men of renown.”  The thought was the the “Sons of God” were angels.  It is certain that in Job 1 the phrase “Sons of God” refers to angels.  But in the Genesis account that isn’t so certain.  It could also be that the sons of God are the descendants of Adam through his son Seth and the daughters of men are Adam’s descendants through Cain.  But it doesn’t make lots of sense that Seth’s descendants marrying Cain’s descendants would produce giants or “Mighty men.”

The argument that this can’t be about angels is that Jesus said, in the last day we would be like the angels who neither marry nor or given in marriage.  It is said the point Jesus is making is that angels aren’t sexual beings so the story of Genesis couldn’t refer to them.  It is responded that Jesus didn’t say the angels were sexless but that we would not marry in heaven.  It is true when angels appeared on earth they typically came in the form of men.

We can’t be certain it is this illustration to which Jude referred.  But the point he made is clear.  Even angels who are greater than us in power and might, when they sinned against the Lord by leaving their proper place were rejected by God and have existed under punishment from that day on.  They are “Kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day.”  If such is the case with angels, why shouldn’t we expect something similar to happen with people to turn back from the Lord.

Jude’s third illustration is from a very familiar Old Testament story, that of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19.  Notice Jude’s words, “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.”  That phrase “In the same way as these” seems to indicate that the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah were of the same kind or nature as the sins committed by the angels.  That would seem to lend credibility to the idea that the angels sin was what was recorded in Genesis 6 in that they left their place as angels, ministers of God and his people, to have sexual relations with women on earth.  They were violating God’s plan in sexual relations being between a husband and wife and in the same way the people of Sodom were violating God’s will by wanting sex with those of the same sex as you.

When Lot separated from Abraham he looked down at the cities of the plane and saw they were well watered, that it was a choice land and chose to go in that direction.  Sodom had built a reputation, not just of wealth, but of gross immorality.  Their sin came up before God.  God promised Abraham that if just ten righteous people could be found in these cities He would spare them.  But there just wasn’t enough righteousness in the area to save them from complete ruin.  When God sent his angels into the city to warn Lot and his family to get out before the destruction took place, Lot invited them into his house.  He didn’t recognize them as angels but thought they were men visited the area.  That night the men of Sodom gathered at the door of Lot’s house, demanding that he bring these two men out to them that they could have homosexual relations with them.  Lot refused and pleaded with them not to be so crude.  He even offered them his virgin daughters if they would leave the men alone.  But it took a miracle from the angels of striking them with blindness to get them to give up on their pursuit.

When the angels were able to get Lot and his two daughters out of the city, they rained down upon it fire and brimstone so the city was completely destroyed.  They had been wealthy, privileged and envied by others.  But immorality had taken over their lives.  Instead of sex being something shared between a husband and wife as God planned, they made sex acceptable between all people.  They might have said that it wasn’t anyone else’s business since they were all consenting adults, but it would have been a lie.  They were ready to force sex upon the angels who had not consented.

Immorality seems to run wild in our own time.  People try to justify sexual relations outside of marriage, saying it is just the way we are made.  Strangely it is the exact same thing said by those who have sex with children.  In their warped minds it seems natural for a grown man to have sex with little children.  Those involved in homosexual relationships make the same point.  It is said, “This is just how God made me.”  But God was ready to destroy a city and the other cities around it to try to stop the awful spread of such a lifestyle.  He described what happened to them as being like the punishment of hell in that they were “Undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.”

Today, we may not remember any of the stories as clearly as the people of Jude’s day did.  They worked to pass down such stories from one generation to another to help keep their family away from sinful living.  I’m afraid the stories we tell don’t have such redeeming qualities.  But we need to pull out as many stories as we can think of or read in the Bible that will help our children to make the right decisions about what they will do in life.

About leoninlittlerock

Preaching minister for Central church of Christ in Little Rock. Author of over 20 books including: When a Loved one Dies, Spiritual Development, Skid Marks on the Family Drive, Challenges in the church, To Know Christ and A Drink of Living Water.
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