Summary: Explores the subject of final judgment and hell.
I remember a telephone call a number of years ago here at Tenth. The caller had seen an evangelism tract with Tenth’s name and phone number stamped on it. The tract was about the subject of hell. The caller, who was pleasant, asked this question: For me to become a Christian, must I then understand that my mother and father who died unbelievers are spending eternity in hell?
Is this not a question that has troubled us? It certainly has troubled the world. From the world’s perspective, the subject of judgment and hell is the “dark side” of the gospel. Jude takes us into this subject.
I began last week’s sermon raising the Camelot-factor which plagues human history. Simply put, whatever good is given birth, it brings with it its own seed of destruction or corruption. Jude is distressed to see it happening at the church’s beginning and is raising the alarm to expose the corruption. But however concerned Jude may be about the spreading corruption, he also makes clear, through his comments on judgment, that God has matters under control. Let’s see what he has to say.
For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation…
From the human perspective, certain people slipped into the church without notice. From God’s perspective, they are following script. Some translators believe the Jude is referring to scriptures (whether Old or New) that speak of the wicked mixing in and corrupting God’s people. Jesus said as much in his parables about the tares being sown among the wheat and the bad getting caught in the fishing net with the good fish. Some believe that he has in mind a list of actual names designating who would commit such sin. However we look at it, one thing Jude is making clear is that God is not caught off guard by the appearance of wickedness. He not only is expecting it, he has plans to deal with the perpetrators.
Jude then gives three examples of other groups of sinners receiving judgment. The first example is that of the Israelites who rebelled in the wilderness: 5 Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. Jude could have directed us to several instances in the wilderness story, but the clearest is God’s promise that “none of the men who have seen my glory and my signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have put me to the test these ten times and have not obeyed my voice, shall see the land that I swore to give to their fathers (Numbers 14:22-23). And thus for forty years they wandered until all the rebels died.
The next example takes us into a realm beyond our present senses: 6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day…
We don’t have the time to spend on the various explanations of who these angels might be and where Jude got his information. His message, however, is clear: not even mighty angels can avoid God’s judgment. Even now certain ones are kept chained in darkness from which there is no escape. They are kept for their day in court for which they can have no hope of being declared not guilty or obtaining a mistrial. Their judgment is sure and their prison invincible.
Finally, come Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, who 7 … serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. They serve as a warning to others of the punishment that will be visited upon the wicked.
Jude’s vivid metaphors of the ungodly who are disturbing the church ends with this last description of judgment: 12 These are…wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever. Note the comparison with the angels kept in gloomy darkness. The ungodly have reservations already made for their accommodations, and these reservations will not be canceled.
Jude’s concluding remarks about judgment comes in a reference from the nonbiblical book of Enoch:
14 It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with ten thousands of his holy ones, 15 to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly…
What do we learn about the judgment to come? One is that it will occur with the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Two, it will come in great power as displayed in the army that accompanies Christ. Three, everyone will be judged and all the ungodly will be convicted. Everyone will receive his due reward.