Jude 11-13

Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.

12 These people are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. 13 They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.

          As I mentioned when we began our devotions in Jude’s letter, we may not know much about the author is or his surrounding context. In fact, our knowledge is rather limited when we compare it to what we know of other books in the Bible. However, one thing we can be known with a fair amount of accuracy. That is that Jude’s first readers include mostly Christians from a Jewish background. We can assume this because of the examples Jude uses in verse 11 to warn them about false teachers.

          The congregation he was writing would had to have known the Hebrew Bible, The Old Testament, very well in order to understand the examples Jude used when he referred to the false teachers that his readers where encountering, and their eventual judgement.

          Today’s passage offers a further example of this. Jude begins verses 11–13 by announcing a woe on these false teachers. The ‘woe’ was a usual way in which prophets, in the Old Testament, declared judgment. For example, Hosea 7:13 speaks woes to the nation of Israel, “Woe to them, because they have strayed from me! Destruction to them, because they have rebelled against me! I long to redeem them but they speak about me falsely”.

 

          We also have Jude’s comparison of these false teachers to well-known sinners in the Old Testament. He wants to show his readers that the people who are trying to deceive them will also suffer the same fate. He uses the example of Cain to describe the way false teachers are known by their teaching and their behaviour.

          We find this same example used in 1 John 3:11-15 as the apostle John warns his readers about the sinful false teachers his readers were facing, “For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.

 

          Jude refers to the Old Testament figure of Balaam to warn that false teachers usually give their new revelations by saying they had a vision. And the false teacher’s that Jude was referring to in his letter would also, like Balaam, be judged. Jude’s readers would know this because of their familiarity with Old Testament passages such as chapters 22-24 in the book of Numbers and Joshua 13:22 which says, “In addition to those slain in battle, the Israelites had put to the sword Balaam son of Beor, who practiced divination”.

 

          The story of Korah we can find in Numbers 16. Jude’s readers would have known the story of Korah’s rebellion against the authority of Moses quite well. He was the perfect example for Jude to use as the false teachers he is dealing with not only ignored God’s law but also the authority of the apostles. All three of these heretics, mentioned by Jude, encountered terrible ends to their lives. And Jude says to his readers that this will be the same fate of all false teachers and their disciples.

 

           In verses 12 and 13 Jude says these false teachers participate like everyone else in the life of the church. But their real motivation is only to ‘feed’ themselves. He compares them to “clouds without rain” and “Autumn trees without fruit” which tells his readers that this is how they will recognize them. Even though they make great promises and claim bright futures they offered nothing of value to the church. Jude’s final analysis in verse 12 is to call them “twice dead”. Here he is probably making reference to their eventual physical death but also their eternal spiritual death. Verse 13 reminds everyone that those who pervert or twist the grace of God for their own purposes will suffer “blackest darknessforever

 

          I doubt many of you here this morning would rise up against godly church leaders as these men did by preaching untruths. But we need to examine ourselves and make sure that we are not subtly undermining our leaders by saying bad things about them or whispering about our dissatisfaction with their decisions.  Even as our friends or coworkers may try to encourage you to agree with their complaints, we need to remember that we have a responsibility to submit to the leaders that God has placed over us. If you find that you have taken part in this kind of ‘grumbling’ and complaining then do what you can to make it right.