The nation of Israel had miraculously crossed the Jordan River by the mighty hand of God (Joshua 3-4) and then conquered the central part of Canaan, Jericho (Joshua 6) and Ai (Joshua 7-8), as well as the southern region of the land (Joshua 9-10). When the kings on the northern region heard about Joshua and Israel’s conquest in the southern part of Canaan (11:1a), they formed an alliance in hopes that they would be able to defeat Israel before they conquered the northern parts of Canaan (11:1b-3). Although the enemy kings gathered a great multitude together to fight against Israel (11:4-5), the Lord assured Joshua that they would be victorious over their enemies (11:6). After hearing that God would give them the victory, Joshua organized a surprise attack and defeated them as the Lord had said (11:7-9). Joshua returned to each city in northern Canaan to defeat their kings and capture the city (11:10-15). The largest city in the north, Hazor, was burned with fire most likely to show that the Lord and Israel could not be defeated (11:10-12). Burning Hazor would be a visible reminder to other cities who tried to unite themselves against Israel.Continue Reading...
Archives For Jude
Jude continues to warn his readers about the potential danger these false prophets bring into the church and he begins by referring to the meals (called love feasts) shared amongst Christians to celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is likely that the false teachers were also taking part in these meals as if they worshipped the same God as those who believed; however, Jude labels them as “spots” (stains) on the church. Instead of teaching the truth, Jude says that these deceivers are, “…clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever” (vv. 12b-13). These teachers made many special promises and claims, but they were all empty because they did not teach the truth. In case the presence of these false teachers caused believers to be disheartened, Jude reminded them that their deceitfulness had been predicted by the prophets of old; however, their destruction was sure (vv.14-15). Believers should not be discouraged; in fact, they should keep in mind that the apostles were fully aware of the false teachers who would seek to infiltrate the church, but it did not stop them from preaching and living the truth (vv.16-19).
Rather than wasting energy on those spreading lies, Jude wrote, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (vv.20-21). Furthermore, Jude had some special advice for the faithful Christians concerning those who were being deceived by the false teachers, “And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh (vv.22-23). Instead of turning their backs on those who were being deceived, believers were to be compassionate and do everything possible to bring them back to the truth.
In a fitting conclusion to his letter, Jude reminds his readers that it is God “who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (v.24). It would not be in their own strength that they could resist the deceivers, but only through God’s protecting power. As they maintained their faith in God, He would provide security now and for all eternity.
Dear God, thank You for being able to keep me from stumbling so that You can present me faultless before the presence of God.
Rather than pretending that false teaching, unbelief, and immorality were something new, Jude provides three Old Testament illustrations of those who were deceived about the truth and faced God’s judgment. First, Jude writes concerning the Israelites (God’s chosen people) whom He delivered from Egyptian bondage only to watch them engage in worship of idols and participate in wickedness (v.5). This generation of unbelievers was not able to enter the land which God had promised to Abraham and his descendants (Numbers 14:22-30, 35). Secondly, Jude refers to the fallen angels who possessed the bodies of men (Genesis 6:1-3) in order to defile and deceive; however, the end of these angels would be everlasting judgment (v.6, see also Revelation 20:10). The final illustration used by Jude was the incident at Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19) when men were giving “themselves over to sexual immorality” (v.7) and were eventually judged by earthly fire, which is a preview of the coming judgment in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15).
Much like those who denied the truth in times past, the false teachers of Jude’s day proved that they did not represent God because they did not follow His commandments. Jude reveals three characteristics of these false teachers – they “defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries [angels]” (v.8). Jude gives an example of what he talking about when he mentions that the false teachers “speak evil of dignitaries [angels].” It seems that Michael (God’s chief angel) struggled against Satan himself in a battle for the body of Moses after he died (Deuteronomy 34:5-6). Satan may have wanted to use Moses’ body for some uncertain purposes which were obviously contrary to God’s will. Instead of taking matters into his own hands, Michael left the final decision in God’s hands and did not dare curse an angel as powerful as Satan. Apparently, the false teachers of Jude’s day, being arrogant, felt as if they possessed all authority above even angels and could speak anything on behalf of God. Jude condemned their actions. Anyone who speaks with this type of prideful authority, speaks without knowledge and will ultimately face divine judgment.
It is important that Christians do not believe everyone who says that they represent God, but rather compare their teachings and lifestyle with God’s standards. Those whose teachings contradict Scripture must be rejected as well as those whose lifestyle demonstrates immorality.Dear God, help those who believe in You to continue in the truth and expose those who, in error, claim that they speak on Your behalf.
Similar to the churches in Jude’s day, false teachings abound in our world today and are always waiting to push themselves into the minds of believers. Rather than being open to every teacher and teaching, Christians must not only stand firm in the truth but also demonstrate the truth through obedience to God’s commandments. As Jude’s letter became a warning to the believers in the first century, Christians today must maintain our faith in Jesus by “building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (vv.20-21).
Dear God, help those who believe in You to stand firm in the truths You’ve revealed through Scripture. May we also be wise and discerning of some who may attempt to distort the truth. May the faith we hold dear also change the way we live.