Psalm 103

Psalm 103

Of David.

Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness
    and justice for all the oppressed.

He made known his ways to Moses,
    his deeds to the people of Israel:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
    slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
    nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
    they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
    and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
    and his righteousness with their children’s children—
18 with those who keep his covenant
    and remember to obey his precepts.

19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
    and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Praise the Lord, you his angels,
    you mighty ones who do his bidding,
    who obey his word.
21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
    you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the Lord, all his works
    everywhere in his dominion.

Praise the Lord, my soul.
(Psalm 103:1-22 NIV)

King David spends time in praise and worship of the Lord today.  Thankfully, he wrote down his thoughts so we can join with him many centuries later.  The same God whom King David worshipped in his day is the same God that we choose to worship today.

David breaks his praise and worship into three sections:

  • Personal worship (vv. 1-5)
  • Corporate worship (vv. 6-18)
  • Universal worship (vv. 19-22)

In the first section, David has some personal worship time with the Lord.  David begins and ends this psalm with the same words – “Praise the Lord, my soul”.  If you grew up with a different English translation of the Bible, you might remember this beginning and end as “Bless the Lord, O my soul”.

What is David saying when he talks to his “soul”?  Is this some kind of ancient “self-talk”?  Not at all.

David knows what is going on in his outer, external life – how he interacts with others, what he is doing, his words, his outward emotions to life happening around him.

Now David is taking time to examine his inner life – what’s going on inside him.  What is he experiencing but hasn’t expressed outwardly, what he is feeling, what emotions are stirring within him, the thoughts in his mind.

David is no different than you and I – a thousand, thousand things going on inside, and only a few make it from the inner life to the outer life.  David is ordering his thought life and will and feelings, telling them all to focus on the Lord and Him alone.

In verses 2 – 5, David reminds himself of the benefits of focusing on the Lord – why he is directing his thoughts, will, and emotions to spend time in praise and worship.

And what are those benefits?  forgiveness and restoration (v. 3), redemption (salvation) and righteousness before God (v. 4), blessings and renewal (v. 5).

David, having worshipped the Lord personally, then invites others to join him in corporate worship (vv. 6-18).  David reminds his fellow worshippers of the Lord’s grace and mercy toward His people in verses 8 – 10 as he quotes Moses from Exodus 34:6-7.  David also reminds himself, his fellow worshipers (and us!) of the Lord’s kind, gentle, and fatherly love toward us through the generations (vv. 13-18).

As David closes out this psalm, he flings open the doors of heaven and invites all the universe to join him and the congregants to worship the Lord together (vv. 19-22).  Everyone and everything is invited – angels, mighty beings, heavenly hosts, us, even His created things like animals, birds, sea creatures, bugs – all praising the name of the Lord!

May we remember to take time to look inside ourselves, then choose to focus our will, our thoughts, our mind, our emotions, our body in worship of the Lord.

May you experience the blessings and presence of the Lord and His joy as you take time to worship Him today.

Blessings,
~kevin

Psalm 1

Psalm 1

Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.

Not so the wicked!
    They are like chaff
    that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
(Psalm 1:1-6 NIV)

As we look at the first psalm, we see a preamble, a pattern for many other psalms – a contrast between the righteous and the wicked.

Verse 1 begins with a beatitude, a blessing on the person who pursues God’s righteousness in God’s way.  And what is the way to pursue righteousness?  The psalmist gives us three negatives and two positives:

The righteous person does not (v. 1):

  • walk in step with the wicked
  • stand in the way that sinners take
  • sit in the company of mockers

Rather, the righteous person does (v. 2):

  • delight in the law of the Lord
  • meditate on God’s law day and night

Notice that our path of life is a choice – where and how we spend our time.  We can walk, stand, and sit with those who oppose the Lord and His ways, or we can delight in the Lord and focus our thoughts and actions on Him.

Verse 3 paints the picture of the person who focuses their life on the Lord.  The psalmist uses a fruit tree to convey the blessings of the life focused on the Lord.  The water represents the life source for the tree, just as delighting and meditating on the Lord is the life source to the follower of God.  The tree is not just for show; it also yields fruit to bless others at the appointed time (in its season).

Notice also the security of the tree.  It is firmly planted – its roots run deep.  No storm can uproot the tree, not can any harm come and cause it to wither and lose its leaves.  So is our security in the Lord – whatever we do for His glory will prosper.  There may be storms of life, but the goodness of God will prevail and protect us.

Verses 4 – 5 contrast back to the wicked described in verse 1.  The psalmist says that they are not like the tree – they are more like the chaff that the wind blows away.  The wicked have no substance, no weight or rooting to anchor them against the strength of the Lord.

Verse 6 concludes with the final contrast of this psalm – God’s knowledge of, provision for, and protection over the righteous ones who delight themselves in Him and obey Him.

Sometimes it’s hard to imagine, but it’s true – God knows His followers and watches over them!  The God the universe, with all its billions of people, and all of His creation – has time for you and me!  That is both humbling and deeply peace-giving.

May you delight yourself in the Lord today, focusing your thoughts and actions on Him.

And may you experience His Presence as you go about your day with Him.

Blessings,

~kevin

Jude 24-25

24 To Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
(Jude 24-25 NIV)

As we wrap up our time in the book of Jude, let’s do a quick review.

Jude identifies himself, offers an introductory blessing, then quickly gets to the point of the letter – to identify and deal with false teachers that have crept into the local churches.  Jude then describes some identifying traits of these false teachers, as well as the judgment that God has historically brought down upon those who know the truth but defiantly disobey Him.

Jude then turns his attention back to his audience – those who still follow the Lord.  Jude reminds them that the arrival of these false teachers should not catch them off guard – they had been warned by the apostles, especially Peter.  Jude then reminds them (and us) of our responsibility to keep grounded in God’s Word, to pray, and to keep an eternal perspective – the opposite of what the false teachers were promoting.

In addition, Jude reminds us that we have a responsibility beyond keeping ourselves connected to the Lord. We are also to reach out to those who are confused by, convinced of, or committed to these false teachers, their sinful beliefs, and evil practices.

Today, Jude ends as he began – with a positive note and a blessing to his readers.  Verses 24 – 25 are a doxology to the Lord and a great reminder of God’s faithfulness to his brothers and sisters in Christ (which also includes us!).

Jude begins by reminding his audience that God is able to provide for and protect them during their perilous times.  This was not an idle boast, but a living reality.  Being “able” means to have the power to make something happen.

And what does God have the power to do for us?

  • to keep you from stumbling
    We all need someone to “keep” us, don’t we?  The Lord describes us as sheep, with no defenses to sustain us against the spiritual attacks that come against us.  The “stumbling” is when we give up or give in to those attacks, and the enemy of our souls wins the battle.
    Jude tells us that God has the power to guard us and protect us – the question is whether we will willingly submit to His plan and put ourselves under God’s protection, or will we tell God that we want to do life on our own.
  • to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy
    Jude reminds us again that God has an eternal perspective on our lives – we are not all about the “here and now”.  God continues to refine us as we submit ourselves to Him in order to present us before Himself redeemed (our sins paid for by His Son, Jesus – our account with God wiped clean!).
    Jude reminds us that God does not perform this redemptive and sanctifying work out of duty or obligation.  Instead, God does this so He can present us with great joy!
    Do you long to hear God say to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant”?  I know I look forward to that day.

Jude ends his letter with praise to the Lord, reminding us that only God is able to save us, and He alone is worthy of all glory, majesty, power, and authority.

And who holds all this glory, majesty, power, and authority?  Jesus Christ our Lord.

And how long is Jesus’ glory, majesty, power, and authority in effect?

  • before all ages (before time began – eternity past)
  • now
  • forevermore (after time ends – eternity future)

Looks like God has the entire span of time, from eternity past, to now, to eternity future covered.  There has never been, and never will be a time when God is not sovereign or in control.

May we be reminded of God’s protection and provision, and of our need to humbly put ourselves under His care.

May we have God’s wisdom to identify truth from error, and false teachers from those who teach God’s truth.

May we remember that God cares for us, not out of obligation, but out of joy.  He bursts with delight and loves spending time with us.

May we sense God’s His presence and pleasure with us as we go about our day.

Blessings,
~kevin

Jude 20-23

20 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.
(Jude vv. 20-23 NIV)

In our last time together, Jude turned his focus to his readers and reminded them (and us) that these false teachers are not some new revelation from God as they claim to be.  In fact, they are not from God at all.  Jesus and the apostles (especially Peter) had warned of both their coming and their motive.

In today’s passage, Jude is still addressing his readers, those who are committed to following Christ.  Jude begins with the word “But” again, marking a change in direction, a contrast to what he was talking about in verses 17-19.  Jude turns his focus from the negative to the positive, encouraging and motivating his readers to keep their focus on the Lord, and proactively help others.

In verses 20 – 21, Jude instructs us to keep ourselves in God’s love.  The idea of “keep” is not a passive hoarding, like putting important documents in a safe or hiding money in a mattress or in books.  Instead, the idea of “keep” is an active pursuit, to keep connected to someone, to remain in relationship to someone.

Jude’s imperatives are in direct contrast to what the false teachers were doing in verse 19.  So how do we keep ourselves in God’s love?
Jude lays out three essentials:

  • building yourselves up in your most holy faith
    Simply stated, this is spending time in God’s Word.  Notice that Jude says this is a “building up” exercise, not a “tearing down” (causing divisions among God’s people) exercise as contrasted by the false teachers (v. 19).
  • praying in the Holy Spirit
    What is prayer?  Talking to God.   Is Jude requiring some form of speaking in tongues or being “filled with the spirit”?  No.  Is Jude excluding that activity?  No.  Rather, Jude is telling us to pray with the connection and the power that comes with God’s Holy Spirit indwelling us.  This is in direct contrast to the false teachers that did not have God’s Spirit in them (v. 19).
  • wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life
    Jude encourages us to keep an eternal perspective, looking beyond our life in the “here and now” and focusing on the final goal of spending eternity with the Lord.  This requires patience, perseverance, faith, and hope.  This is in direct contrast to the false teachers that seek their immediate gratification and follow after their natural instincts, especially in the sensual and sexual areas of life (v. 19).

In verses 22 – 23, Jude encourages us to look beyond our own spirituality and seeking after God to help others along their spiritual journey.  God did not design us to live our lives disconnected from others. Rather, we are to live in community, as salt and light to those around us, to be an encourager and to be encouraged by others as we all focus on the Lord and our connection to Him.

As we look into verses 22 – 23, we need to recognize that Jude is not judging these folks in the church that needed the believers’ help.  Jude is not saying if they are followers of Christ, or if they are not.  Frankly, Jude probably did not know if they were or were not followers of Jesus – he simply saw the need to offer them the help and hope of the Gospel.

Let’s look briefly at the three groups of folks that need help, and our responsibility to the Lord and to them:

  • Be merciful to those who doubt
    These are folks that are “on the fence” – they see the truth of God’s Word and the reality of Jesus, but are still drawn to the offer of immediate gratification and an easier life proclaimed by the false teachers.  They are confused and have questions about both, and they have not fully committed themselves to either Christ or the false teachers.
    And what is our responsibility to these doubters?  To offer mercy to them.  We are not to shun, ignore, belittle, or harshly rebuke them.  After all, we had questions about putting our faith in Christ, and God graciously and mercifully answered our questions along the way – why would we do less for someone else on their journey?
  • save others by snatching them from the fire
    These folks are no longer on the fence – they are convinced and have decided to actively follow the false teachers.  These folks know the truth of Christ, but are caught up in the thrill of the promise, not realizing that they are in grave danger.  A small child is pulled toward the allure of a fire but does not understand the danger associated with getting too close.  The child’s parents must watch out for the child’s well-being and rescue the child from harm if it gets too close.
    Jude is saying the same thing for us.  We must watch out for those who are pulled in by the empty promises of the false teachers that lead to death.  We are not to write them off, but rather proactively seek them out as “lost sheep” for their own good.  Jude is not saying we have the power to save people and give them eternal life – only God through Jesus can offer eternal life.  What Jude is saying is that God uses us as part of His plan to bring others to Himself, including those in danger of false teaching and its deadly consequences.
  • to others show mercy, mixed with fear – hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh
    These folks are not only convinced of the promises of the false teachers – they have become “evangelists” of their heresy, actively trying to convince others to follow.  Jude acknowledges that this is very dangerous, and should not be taken lightly.
    To rescue people who are caught up with the false teachers is basically marching into the enemy’s camp in broad daylight and taking back those who have strayed from the truth of God’s Word and His ways.
    Jude says that we are to approach these folks who are now teaching others with mercy, and fear.  We are to treat these folks with mercy, but go in the fear of the Lord, lest we are convinced of their evil ways and renounce Christ.
    Jude says we are to hate anything evil that might rub off on us as part of that interaction with the very folks we are reaching out to.  If you’ve ever had to do a really dirty job, when the job is done, the first thing you want to do is take a shower or bath and put your dirty clothes in the wash.  And so it is with our spiritual lives when God calls us to seek out those who are deep in sin with false teachers and are convincing others to follow their evil ways.

 

May we seek Christ and Him only in our personal lives and walk, spending time in God’s Word, in prayer, and keeping an eternal perspective.

May we also seek the spiritual well-being of those around us who are confused by false teachers, convinced by the false teachers, and committed to the false teachers of our day.

Blessings,
~kevin

Jude 17-19

17 But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18 They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” 19 These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.
(Jude vv. 17-19 NIV)

In our last few sessions together, Jude reminded his readers (and us) that God will judge the ungodly words and actions of those who oppose Him or are defiant toward Him.  Jude cited a number of Old Testament examples of folks who had the same mindset as these false teachers and the terrible consequences of their blatant defiance and sin.

In today’s passage, Jude reminds his readers (and us) that these false teachers are not some new revelation from God as they claim to be.  The apostles had warned of both their coming and their motive.

Jude begins with “But” to contrast, to change both direction and subject.  Jude was denouncing these false teachers; now he turns his attention to encourage the saints in the church.

Notice that Jude refers to the recipients of his letter as “dear friends” or “beloved” – all terms of endearment and loving concern for his readers.  Jude’s words are meant to be an encouragement and hope for his readers; this was not a disciplinary or corrective letter for something these believers had done wrong.

In fact, Jude tells his readers to “remember” what the Apostles had told them.  Jude’s words were an exhortation, a command to recall what they had been taught by Peter and the other apostles.

In verse 18, Jude quotes the apostle Peter (2 Peter 3:3).  And what was the message of these nay-sayers?   Peter tells us in his next sentence:

They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”
(2 Peter 3:4 NIV)

Have you heard anyone say something similar in our day?

“It’s been 2,000 years since Jesus promised to return. Obviously He is not coming back.”

“Christianity is an ancient myth.  Was Jesus even a real person, or some made-up character that told stories about ethics and morality?”

Peter’s point, which Jude reiterates, is clear:  These false teachers are not interested in learning the truth – they are only interested in justifying their sin and fulfilling their selfish desires.  They want to do whatever they want and have no guilt or consequences for their thoughts, words, or actions.

Jude reminds his readers that the goal of these false teachers is to divide and conquer, to get peoples’ eyes off the Lord and onto someone or something else.  Jude is appealing to his readers with human reason while reminding them that the false teachers run on instinct, not reason.  Human reasoning, a God-given ability, will save their lives if applied; running on instinct, like a wild animal, will ultimately cost them their life (v. 10).

Lastly, in verse 19, Jude reminds his readers that these false teachers are devoid of God’s Holy Spirit – they are operating strictly in their natural (non-spiritual) state.

As I ponder Jude’s words this morning, I think I can safely say that I am not a false teacher that Jude spoke against.  However, I am reminded of Jude’s two simple tests of my every thought, word, and action to keep me focused and centered on Christ:

  • Why do I think/ speak/ do the way I do?  What is my motivation?
    Am I seeking God’s glory or my own?
    Am I seeking His good, or am I feeding my own selfish desires?
  • Is God’s Holy Spirit evident and leading in what I am thinking/ speaking/ doing?
    Am I operating on my own human power or instinct?
    Or am I empowered and directed by His Holy Spirit?

May we live our everyday lives under the authority and guidance of God’s Holy Spirit in all we think, say, and do – for His glory, and not our own.

Blessings,
~kevin

Jude 14-16

14 Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about them: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones 15 to judge everyone, and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed in their ungodliness, and of all the defiant words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” 16 These people are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.
(Jude vv. 14-16 NIV)

In our last time together, Jude used three more Old Testament examples and six comparisons to call out the dire consequences of disobedience to the Lord.

In today’s text, Jude reminds the saints in the church about the coming judgment of these false teachers.  This is not a new thought, but rather, a continuation of his previous thoughts from verses 11 – 13.

Jude begins by quoting the extrabiblical writings of Enoch.  Jude was referring to Enoch, the seventh in line counting from Adam (Genesis 5:1-18 – Adam, Seth, Enosh, Cainan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch), not to be confused with Enoch, Cain’s son (Genesis 4:17-18).

The number seven is often used to denote completeness.  In this case, Enoch was the seventh generation of humans on the earth as we noted above.  We know that Enoch walked with God – he was faithful and pleasing to the Lord (see Genesis 5:24 and Hebrews 11:5).  Enoch (the seventh generation from Adam through Seth) was a shining example of a life lived for the Lord, while Lamech (the seventh generation from Adam through Cain) was the opposite – a life of lawlessness and ungodliness (Genesis 4:18-24).

Jude was not putting Enoch’s ancient writings on the same level as God’s Word – he was simply saying that even before the flood, godly men like Enoch had prophesied that evil men like Lamech and the false teachers of Jude’s day were already judged and sentenced for their blatant sins.

And what were those sins that brought God’s judgment?  Their ungodly acts (their sexual sins that Jude referred to earlier in his letter) as well as their defiant, harsh words toward God Himself and God’s people.

Jude goes on to say that these people are:

  • grumblers
    they are discontented, unhappy souls, angry about every aspect of their life; no willingness to be part of the solution, only complain about the problem.
  • faultfinders
    everything that happens to them or someone else is blamed on something or someone else; no personal responsibility or desire to help others.
  • following their own evil desires
    no sense of the greater good of their family, community, or world, only looking out for themselves and what might satisfy them or make them happy, primarily in a sexual or sensual way.
  • boasting about themselves
    their sense of self and pride and ego is overwhelming, to the point of being arrogant and obnoxious; a narcissist.
  • flattering others for their own advantage
    they offer insincere words of praise and honor to others in order to get something for themselves.

 

May we speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), and humbly ask the Lord for wisdom to discern God’s Word and ways from Satan’s lies and temptations.

In our next few times together, Jude will share the truth of God’s Word with us and show us a better way to live and love and remain centered on the Lord.

Blessings,
~kevin

Jude 11-13

11 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.
(Jude vv. 11-13 NIV)

In our previous time together, Jude described the characteristics of the false teachers.  Jude pointed out that these false teachers were not led by reason (which God gave humans reasoning capability), but rather by instinct, like wild beasts.  And ultimately, living by instinct would destroy them.

In today’s text, Jude uses three more Old Testament examples to call out the dire consequences of disobedience to the Lord.  Jude does not elaborate on these three examples, as most (if not all) of his audience was either Jewish or very familiar with the stories of the Old Testament.  Since we are far removed from that culture and the Jewish stories and context, let’s walk through each example.

  • The way of Cain
    In Genesis chapter 4, Adam and Eve’s two sons brought their sin offerings before the Lord.  Abel brought an animal sacrifice, while Cain brought fruits and vegetables that he had grown.  God had made it clear that the covering for sin involved the shedding of blood (Genesis 3:21).  God made the first sacrifice to cover Adam and Eve.  Abel understood and obeyed God; Cain sought to appease God with the results of his own efforts by growing fruits and vegetables.
    Just like Cain, the false teachers in Jude’s day rejected God’s offer of salvation and righteousness through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.  Instead, they sought to establish their own righteousness through their beliefs and works.
  • Balaam’s error
    In Numbers chapters 22-24, the rulers of Moab try to bribe Balaam, a Jewish prophet, to put a curse on the people of Israel.  Ballam started strong, but eventually, the allure of money was too great and Balaam agreed to curse his own people for greed and gain.  Thankfully, the Lord intervened so Balaam did not curse God’s people, but his integrity as a godly prophet was forever tarnished.
    Just like Balaam, these false teachers in Jude’s day were not there to help people or point them to the Lord – they were doing what they did for selfish gain, to get rich.
  • Korah’s rebellion
    Numbers chapter 16 records the story of a group of people that rebelled against Moses and the Lord, and God’s judgment on them for their rebellion.  Korah and other men rebelled against God’s chosen leaders – Moses and Aaron.  To rebel against God’s chosen leaders is to rebel against God Himself.  So what happened to Korah and the other leaders of the rebellion?  The Lord split open the ground and swallowed their tents, their possessions, and their families – they were completely removed from the face of the earth.  The text says that the earth swallowed them alive – they were not annihilated (they did not cease to exist); rather, they were destroyed (they still existed, but lost their well-being and entered into the realm of the dead).
    Just like Korah and the others who rebelled against the Lord and His anointed leaders, these false teachers in Jude’s day have already been set apart by God for destruction.  Make no mistake – open rebellion against the Lord and against His appointed leaders has deadly consequences.

Jude finishes his thoughts in verses 12 – 13 by making multiple comparisons of these teachers to bad things, thus showing these teachers’ motivations and godlessness.

Let’s take a brief look at each comparison:

  • blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm
    Have you ever sat next to someone at a restaurant who is sick, and the person acts like everything is fine?  You feel like the germs are radiating off their body, infecting everyone and everything around them (including your food), and the person is clueless.  Makes you lose your appetite and want to leave, doesn’t it?
    So was the effect of these false teachers among God’s people in Jude’s day.
  • shepherds who feed only themselves
    At these same love feasts (today we would call them church covered dish dinners), these false teachers were there for one reason only – to feed themselves.  They were not there for the fellowship or encouragement, to hear God’s Word, or offer help to others.  They held the title of a shepherd (pastor, teacher, leader, etc.) but were only there for their personal gain.
  • clouds without rain, blown along by the wind
    In a dry, arid land like Israel, clouds offer the hope and promise of rain to water the earth and produce a crop and feed the livestock so people can eat.  In contrast, these false teachers offer hope and promise to help their followers, but pass by without so much of a drop of help or encouragement.
  • autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead
    Jude stacks up the meanings here, using a fruit tree as the object lesson.  First, the season is late fall, after the fruit has been picked and the leaves have fallen.  The tree, while during the spring, had great potential – bursting with leaves and new branches, but in the fall, nothing.  No fruit, no more leaves, nothing.  So the orchard owner has no choice but to dig up the tree, haul it out of the orchard, and burn it.
    These false teachers had a lot of promise, but no fruit.  They have been exposed for what they are (ungodly false teachers), and the Lord says it’s time for them to go.
  • wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame
    In this word picture, Jude uses stormy waves to describe these false teachers.  These waves are unpredictable and violent, churning up all sorts of debris (sin) that is despicable.  Jude is likely referring to these false teachers’ endorsement and practice of sexual immorality as part of their “worship” experience.
  • wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever
    Jude stays with his nautical theme and refers to the false teachers as “wandering stars”.  These “stars” could be comets or more likely planets that appear in the night sky.  Sailors used the stars to navigate, but these other “stars” are unreliable, as they do not follow a predictable pattern and would lead the sailors off course and into destruction if they followed them.
    Similarly, the false teachers are not reliable and will lead people away from the Lord and to destruction (blackest darkness, hell) if people follow them.

 

May we heed Jude’s warning about open rebellion and disobedience to the Lord.

May we pray for the wisdom to identify false teachers versus true shepherds of God’s people by their words, their actions, and their hearts.

Blessings,
~kevin