[First published May, 2012] I’m way behind in a Precepts Bible study of the book of Jude, but yesterday I got to the end of the first week. They even recommended that we find a way to share what we were learning about the book with others!
I’ve been a fan of this tiny book snuggled up against Revelation for a long time and I’m excited to share what Jude tells us about Genesis.
Jude’s book is only 25 verses long, so it’s a great way to impress people with your ability to read very quickly. “Mom, I read a whole book of the Bible this morning!” Or something like that. 😀 He has only a few points to make focusing on how easy it is to lose the truth we have been given in the Bible and warning us of ungodly men who use religion to cause all kinds of wickedness.
The first time Jude mentions ancient history is something that we only get in tiny bits and pieces through the Bible: the fall and punishment of angels who followed Satan.
6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
There must be two classes of demons, because we know that there are still lots of them on the loose in the world [Matthew 8:28,29] even though the ones mentioned here are already bound.
Next, Jude moves on to the cities of the plain of Jordan which is now under the Salt (Dead) Sea.
7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
Jude assumes that the events recorded in Genesis 19 are actual historical events. Since the valley of the Salt Sea isn’t still smoking, the “eternal fire” must be talking about what happened to the people of these cities after they died.
9 Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.
I’ve always liked this verse. If angels are very careful how they interact with wicked beings, we humans had sure better humbly depend on God’s power rather than our own.
11a Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain,
Now we’re at the beginning of time! Do you remember what the “way of Cain” was? Just before Easter I wrote about Cain and what he chose to do to his righteous brother. This verse tells us that anyone who rejects the truth of the Bible and follows their selfish desires is following in Cain’s footsteps.
11c and perished in the gainsaying of Core.
This is talking about the time in the wilderness when his cousin Korah didn’t want to follow Moses’ leadership [Numbers 16]. God was very upset about this, so although Moses begged God not to destroy the whole people, he did ask for the ground to swallow Korah and his friends up [v 31-33]. That was one crazy earthquake! Jude also accepts this as a historical fact without question.
BTW, not all of Korah’s family died then, apparently at least one of his sons, Assir [I Chronicles 6:22-24], decided to stay close to Moses rather than his dad!
13b wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.
It took some searching to find out what this is talking about. Turns out the name “wandering stars” is the old term for the known planets. This is a possible explanation, as Barnes’ notes points out that sailors can’t rely on them to guide them accurately.
There is another possibility as well. Jude might be talking about meteors which only shine for a moment before being extinguished forever. This wouldn’t be the first time God used one sentence to say more than one thing!
14-15 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
Now we finally come to some of the coolest stuff that Jude talks about! He makes no excuses for believing that the list of our forefathers in Genesis chapter 5 is complete and accurate. There are people who want to say a bunch of people were left out of this chapter, making the time of Adam and Eve much farther back in time. But Jude doesn’t even allow this as a possibility.
Then, we get a brief glimpse into what Enoch was like. All we know from Genesis 5:24 about his character is that he “walked with God”. It is nice to find out here that part of his job was to be a prophet of God’s judgment on the wicked.
We can also learn more of Enoch’s character from the meaning of his name. Enoch means “dedicated,” which tells us that his parents wanted him to be special for God. (Cain also named his son this, but he was dedicating him to something completely different!)
Thank you, God for giving us not only what we need to understand how you work in the world, but even little bits about our shared history! It’s going to be awesome meeting this man who has been walking with you since just after the dawn of time.