Summary: Jude's description of the judgment that awaits false teachers is a warning to us as we prepare for Judgment Day.
An earthquake followed by a landslide in 1958 generated a wave so tall and so powerful that it snapped trees 524 meters upslope as it bullied its way along Alaska’s Lituya Bay. 524 m is almost as tall as the CN Tower in Toronto! If you want to psyche yourself out before your next cruise or beach vacation, just spend an hour watching clips of rogue waves. Storms and earthquakes can create such powerfully damaging waves that you will think twice about going anywhere near the water after watching those clips.
That was exactly the kind of unease, even fear, Jude wanted to instill in his listeners as he warned them about the false teachers in their midst – false teachers he likened to “wild waves.” As we continue our “Tweets from Heaven” sermon series, Jude tells us what was awaiting these “wild waves” on Judgment Day. His straightforward talk will put some urgency in our preparation for Jesus’ second coming lest we suffer the same eternal punishment that these false teachers are now enduring. Listen to our text from Jude 5-13.
It’s clear from Jude’s words that the Bible does not teach “once saved always saved.” It is possible for believers to fall from faith and to suffer God’s eternal judgment. That’s exactly what happened to a generation of Israelites. Every adult God rescued from slavery in Egypt (except for Joshua and Caleb) died in the 40 years it took the Israelites to reach the Promised Land. They died as judgment for their incessant grumbling and rebellion against God. One Bible commentator calculated that there would have been on average 80 funerals a day for those 40 years!
But Jude wasn’t content to share only one example of the seriousness of God’s judgment against impenitent sin. As was his habit throughout his short letter, Jude gave examples in groups of three. And so he also spoke about how God judged the angels when some of them rebelled against him shortly after creation. And then he reminded his listeners of what God did to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for their wicked perversions. Fire and sulfur rained down from the heavens turning a once famously fertile land into an area where the noteworthy landmark today is the aptly named Dead Sea. Nothing grows there. Such is God’s judgment; it’s complete and irreversible.
In our Gospel Lesson this morning Jesus told us that the same kind of judgment will take place when he reappears on this earth. His verdict will be irreversible. That’s why it’s a good thing we don’t have anything in common with the people of Sodom or with the false teachers that Jude was warning his listeners about, right? I mean listen again to how Jude described them. “In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings…these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals—these are the very things that destroy them” (Jude 8, 10).
Not only were the false teachers like wild waves, they were like wild animals. They were only concerned about scratching whatever sinful itch they had and didn’t care about the consequences to themselves or to anyone else. Your life may not be filled such sinful abandon and wild parties, but did you notice the other sin Jude pointed out that these false teachers were also guilty of? In addition to polluting their own bodies with sex outside of marriage, they “rejected authority and slandered celestial beings.” In other words they spoke against angels.
So when’s the last time you bad-mouthed an angel? “Yeah that Gabriel dude. He thinks he’s all that because he got to deliver the message to Mary that she was going to give birth to Jesus.” Uh, no, I can’t say that I’ve heard anyone slander an angel from heaven before in that way. But I have heard people slander another kind of angel: God’s messengers in the person of a called worker, a Sunday School teacher, and a Christian parent. We’re often like Korah, whom Jude mentions later in our text. Korah was a Levite who charged that Moses and Aaron had no right to exercise authority over the rest of the people. Korah thought that he should get to rule since, as he saw it, he could do a better job than Moses and Aaron.
Korah, however, was not really challenging Moses and Aaron; he was challenging God who had appointed those two brothers to lead the people. God judged Korah and his followers for this sin when he caused the ground to open up beneath their feet and swallow them. That ought to cause us to pause whenever our sinful nature urges us to take a potshot at one of God’s representatives. This is true even if our parents or pastor is the devil himself!