May 3, 2019
Jude 5-11 (The Message)
I’m laying this out as clearly as I can, even though you once knew all this well enough and shouldn’t need reminding. Here it is in brief: The Master saved a people out of the land of Egypt. Later he destroyed those who defected. And you know the story of the angels who didn’t stick to their post, abandoning it for other, darker missions. But they are now chained and jailed in a black hole until the great Judgment Day. Sodom and Gomorrah, which went to sexual rack and ruin along with the surrounding cities that acted just like them, are another example. Burning and burning and never burning up, they serve still as a stock warning.
This is exactly the same program of these latest infiltrators: dirty sex, rule and rulers thrown out, glory dragged in the mud.
The Archangel Michael, who went to the mat with the Devil as they fought over the body of Moses, wouldn’t have dared level him with a blasphemous curse, but said simply, “No you don’t. God will take care of you!” But these people sneer at anything they can’t understand, and by doing whatever they feel like doing—living by animal instinct only—they participate in their own destruction. I’m fed up with them! They’ve gone down Cain’s road; they’ve been sucked into Balaam’s error by greed; they’re canceled out in Korah’s rebellion.
When I was growing up, my father had three standard stories he would march out for almost any situation where I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to be doing. One of them involved school. Whenever I would bring home a bad grade on a test or report card, I knew what was coming: The story of how he would come home from school and not eat dinner until he finished all of his homework. Sometimes he would even do extra work. His mother would beg and plead and yell for him to come eat, but no… education came first.
He rolled this story out every time I came up short academically, from elementary school through college. It was a form of warning and judgment, which is exactly what Jude is doing in today’s text.
These Old Testament stories he rapidly fires off could each have their own Daily Text post. But the heart of the matter is that these were the standard stories rolled out by Jewish and Christian writers to show the consequences of rebellion. Many are in writings not in our Protestant Bibles (like in the book of Maccabees or Sirach), but you can find their same use in 2 Peter.
Jude told us the what of his letter (defend the faith) and now he’s getting to the why by rolling out a well-known and well-used set of stories about rebellion and judgment. But did you notice how he used them?
I went with Eugene Peterson’s Message translation because of the way he defines certain aspects of how these characters came up short:
Acted just like them (which is a form of surrender).
Doing whatever they felt like doing.
The words he uses to describe the rebellion and judgment of false teaching are all words that show a dereliction of duty: a deliberate failure to follow orders or do what you’re supposed to do.
None of the folks in these stories defended the faith, and Jude is warning what the consequences of dereliction look like. This is the start of Jude’s why we should defend the faith, but before we go on there is a warning for us: We could also be the ones in dereliction of duty, decieved in to going on other dark missions and sneering at what we don’t understand.
So before we take these past few days with Jude and sling them like arrows at those we’re certain are AWOL in the faith, it would be prudent for us to recognize that we could do the same thing… and in some ways may have already.
How? To be continued…
Jesus, give me more and more mercy, peace, and love. Help me to see where I’ve been in rebellion to you, even if I wasn’t aware of it. Forgive me and free me. Amen.
What does dereliction of duty mean to you in how you follow Jesus.
For the awakening,