5 Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord at one time delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.7 In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.
(Jude vv 5 – 7 NIV)
In our first passage in Jude (verses 1 – 2), we saw Jude tell of all the good things that God brings about for those who follow and obey Him.
In the second passage (verses 3 – 4), Jude said that false teachers had infiltrated the church and were teaching their lies as truth.
In today’s text, Jude contrasts all the good things that God bestows on His people (those who follow and obey Christ) with the judgment that God brings on direct, willful disobedience to Him. Jude shares three examples from history to make his point.
The first example is that of the Jewish people (v. 5). God had chosen Abraham and his offspring to show His love and blessing to the rest of the world. God took care of His own for many centuries, even providing for them during a severe drought by giving the family refuge in nearby Egypt. Ultimately, God rescued His people out of Egypt after many years of slavery.
So what did the Lord do after Egypt? He protected and provided for His people, first in the desert, and second, in the land of Israel that He carved out for them.
And what did the people do? At first, they praised the Lord and worshipped Him. But eventually, God’s people turned their backs on Him and became willfully disobedient by worshipping other gods and becoming involved in all kinds of sin.
God sent many warnings to His people via His prophets, but the people of Israel and Judah ignored the prophets. So the Lord had no choice but to discipline His people for their willful and deliberate disobedience to Him. Jude tells us that God destroyed His people who did not believe and follow Him. The Old Testament gives witness to this fact, over and over again.
Let’s pause here for a moment and remember that God does not find any pleasure in destroying His people; in fact, it breaks His heart when He has to do so because of their sin. God is holy, and cannot tolerate sin, and makes every effort to bring people to repentance and reconciliation with Himself. It is only when He has exhausted all possibilities of reconciliation that He must judge sin and hold people accountable.
In verse 6, Jude gives the second example and recalls the punishment of angels who abandoned their God-given roles and responsibilities and sought their own glory. Most scholars agree that Jude was referring to Genesis 6:1-4, where angels rebelled against God and tried to be equal with God. Satan was the ringleader of this rebellion. Some of these angels even came to earth and took women for themselves from the daughters of men and had children by them, according to the Genesis passage.
And what happened to these disobedient angels? God put them in bonds (some kind of angel jail) where they are today and will remain until God’s final judgment.
The third example is in verse 7, where Jude recalls God’s judgment on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for their rampant immorality and sexual perversion. If you’ll recall, God rained down fire from heaven (burning sulfur) on those cities because of their sin and unrepentant hearts (Genesis 19:24). If you’ll also recall, Abraham pleaded with God about Sodom and Gomorrah, asking God to spare the cities if even a few righteous people could be found in their midst. God agreed, but none were found, so God destroyed the cities because of their open rebellion against Him.
Even in our modern day, we see God at work, taking down tyrannical rulers and judging people for their sins. And likewise, Jude tells us, God holds people accountable for what they teach others, especially those who teach God’s Word (or pretend to, in the case of these false teachers that had infiltrated the church).
May we hold fast to Christ alone, forsaking all others who would lead us away from Him.
May we heed God’s warning against sin and take serious note of God’s judgment of sin when we disobey Him by choosing to go our own way and not follow His.