Tuesday, 28 July 2020
Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. Jude -11
Jude continues to speak about the “dreamers” of verse 8. In order to explain what they are like, he will reach back to some concrete examples from the Old Testament Scriptures. First, he begins with, “Woe to them.” The word “woe” is a primary expression of grief which is used many times by Jesus in the three synoptic gospels. It is used once by Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:16. However, it is in the noun form there when he says, “Woe is me.” It is used by Jude this one time, and then it is found 14 times in Revelation. Jude is using it as it is normally used, which is as an imprecation.
From there, he says, “For they have gone in the way of Cain.” Cain, the first person ever recorded as being born to humanity, killed his younger brother because God accepted the offering made by Abel but not his. Why? Hebrews 11:4 tells us it is because Abel’s offering came through faith, something Cain’s lacked. But, Hebrews 11:6 then says that without faith, it is impossible to please God.
These people are like Cain. They are faithless, treacherous people. The obvious thought about them is that they would be willing to kill their own sibling in order to gratify themselves. Anyone lacking faith in God will also lack a fear of God. In this, anything goes – even to the slaying of another.
Next, Jude says they “have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit.” The word Jude uses literally means “to pour out.” The Douay-Rheims Bible follows this literal translation, saying, “and after the error of Balaam they have for reward poured out themselves.” It is as if they have spent all their energy, riotously running ahead in order to make a profit. There is no restraint in their conduct, but they rather shamefully press forward for the sake of earthly treasures and earthly pleasures.
Balaam was hired to curse Israel as they prepared to enter the Promised Land. His attempts failed and he was left without a reward by the king who hired him. In an attempt to regain his lost wages, he offered a plan to bring Israel to ruin through sexual immorality and idolatry. Those Jude refers to now are no different. The sphere in which they live is one defiled by the lust of greed, and they will seek new ways in order to fill their desires.
Jude then finishes the thought with, “and perished in the rebellion of Korah.” Here, the word translated as “rebellion” signifies a contradiction, dispute, contention, and so on. During the wildness wanderings of Israel, Korah attempted to usurp the duly established authority of Moses and the High Priest Aaron.
The obvious idea Jude is conveying is that there are scriptural rules of authority that have been established. Christ is the Head, His word has been given through chosen apostles and men of God, and the church is to be obedient to what has been put forth within those parameters as laid out in Scripture. And yet, these people have set out to usurp that line of authority.
As Christ is risen and in heaven, and as all of the authors of the Bible have died, the only remaining authority we have at this time is the word of God, the Bible. But this sacred word is resisted with contradiction and dispute. The authority of the word of God is diminished in order to elevate their own supposed authority. In this dismissal of the word of God, they will perish.
Life application: Concerning the morally twisted people Jude has been discussing – Woe to them! They are self-condemned and doomed. In his words, Jude has cited three Old Testament accounts to express the types of people he is dealing with.
Taken together, we see a trilogy of wickedness – Cain demonstrates unrighteousness; Balaam represents a covetous and deceitful spirit; and Korah reflects a rejection of duly established lines of authority. Individually, or in any combination, these examples demonstrate those in the church who really don’t belong there. Why? Because all three of these examples ultimately lack the necessary faith of the believer. From faith to faith, we are established in Jesus Christ. So, when faith is lacking, a spirit of wickedness and deceit will naturally follow. Hold fast to your faith, which is more precious than gold which perishes.
Heavenly Father, we have all seen people in churches and in our daily lives who lack faith in You, who run greedily after profit, and who resist authority at every turn. For those who have wormed their way into churches, we would ask that You would highlight their deeds so that they may be exposed for who they truly are. Remove them from the lives of Your faithful so that we may be established, kept safe, and become strong in our doctrine. Amen.