15 September 2010 (Revee/Shavu'ot)|
Day #183, 5934 AM
Teshuvah #38 Jude
Yah'shua's Brother Exposes Lawlessness
There is no doubt that aside from the Gospel writers, the apostle Paul dominates the New Testament. He has left an indellible mark for posterity with his awesome revelation of the resurrected Messiah. He and the apostle John are for me personally the two 'stars' of the New Covenant writings but that, I think, is in part because they wrote so much.
This morning when I got up I opened up my scriptures at Jude. It's one of the shorter books of the Bible, a mere 25 verses long, and is the only surviving writing of its author. It's so short that I thought I would share all of it to you today:
In reading this epistle today I saw, like Origen, that "while it consists of but a few verses, yet it is full of mighty words of heavenly grace". The only thing I am sad about in reading this scripture is that we don't have the earlier writing of this half-brother of Yah'shua in which he discourses on "our common salvation". Assuming it has survived, it must be out there somewhere, perhaps in the Vatican Library along with other ancient surpessed texts. Of the two writings of Jude that we know about, only this controversial one, in which he vigorously defends the apostolic faith, survives.
"Jude (Judah), a bondservant of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), and brother of James (Jacob), To those who are called, sanctified by Elohim the Father, and preserved in Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ): Mercy (chesed), peace (shalom), and love (ahavah) be multiplied to you.
Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the set-apart ones (saints). For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our Elohim into lewdness and deny the only Yahweh-Elohim and our Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Lord Jesus Christ).
"But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that Yahweh, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries. Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, 'Yahweh rebuke you!' But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves. 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.
"These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, 'Behold, Yahweh comes with ten thousands of His set-apart ones (saints), to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.'
"These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage. But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Lord Jesus Christ): how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Ruach (Spirit).
"But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), keep yourselves in the love (ahavah) of Elohim (God), looking for the mercy of our Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Lord Jesus Christ) unto eternal life. And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.
"Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy (simcha), To Elohim (God) our Deliverer (Saviour), who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen" (Jude 1-25, NKJV).
Unlike Paul who was defending the true Gospel from an ascetic form of Gnosticism (salvation by knowledge rather than by trusting in the resurrected Messiah), Jude (or more accurately, Judah) was refuting a heresy that has plagued Protestantism since it's inception in the 16th century - antinomianism. Scholars believe, with considerable justification, that these Gnostics were trying to twist Paul's teachings about liberty and claiming that the apostle was teaching that liberty was a licence to do as you please, and specifically, "as an opportunity for the flesh" (Gal.5:13, NKJV) to engage in sexual immorality, false Christians "who turn the grace of our Elohim into lewdness and deny the only Yahweh-Elohim and our Master Yah'shua the Messiah" (Jude 4, NKJV).
What makes Jude's message so important a part of our scriptural canon is that he insists false teaching be exposed - it is not enough to set the truth alongside it in the expectation that everyone will recognise which is which. Indeed, Jude makes it quite clear that in reality it is impossible to "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3, NKJV) unless such an exposť is made. In a modern world where there is so much false Christian and Messianic teaching, that is why ministries such as this one exist. And in spite of the claim made by many believers that we should really only concentrate on sharing the simple message of salvation, this epistle by the half-brother of our Master really silences such an assertion. We must contend for the genuine faith, however unpleasant it may at times be.
I find it particularly interesting how Yahweh equates this antinomianism (anti-Torah lawlessness) with the angel rebellion - it's that bad! It's that serious a matter! Those who teach antinomianism are, in a word, doomed if they do not repent! The description of the fate of these false teachers by such as Jude follows a typical early Christian typology, being linked to examples of the disobedient Israelites who died in the wilderness (cp. 1 Cor.10:5; Heb.3:17), to the rebellious malakim or angels (Gen.6:1-4) and to the rebellion of the cities of Sodom and Gemorah (Gen.19). And the reason this antinomianism is such an abominable sin is because those who espouse and propagate it defy divinely constituted toqef or authority, for Jude contrasts this behaviour with the archangel Michael who wouldn't even use insulting language to the devil! The times I have been verbally abused by antinomians accusing me of being a 'legalist' and 'anti-christ' for insisting that all the commandments - established on the authority of Yahweh - be obeyed are too numerous for me to even begin to document or recount. Indeed, Jude goes further, by linking this antinomianism to the examples of Cain, Balaam and Korah! There really, then, is no way of mincing words, is there? Antinomians are doomed, however much they claim to 'love Jesus'...unless they repent and do what Yah'shua said.
What is Jude's advice to those who do not heed the antinomians but who must withstand their false teachings? Firstly, the fate of these rebels has already been decided - if they do not make teshuvah (repent) they will perish like all the other examples given. True believers - those who trust in the resurrected Messiah and who obey the mitzvot or commandments of Torah:
And whilst they are to abhor all false teachers, loathing even the very clothes stained in sin that they wear, they should pity and rescue those who are led astray by them (vv.22-23).
- 1. Are to be built up the the authentic fatith;
- 2. They are to pray in the power of the Ruach haQodesh;
- 3. They must continue steadfastly in the circle of divine ahavah (love); and
- 4. They must look forward to consummation of mercy and life at the second coming of Yah'shua (vv.17-21).
And so this epistle ends with an ascription of praise to Yahweh as the One who is able to guard His people from stumbling until they stand without blesmish "before the presence of His glory with exceeding simcha (joy)" (Jude 24, NKJV).
In view of all the gnostic heresy that was around from the very beginning with all its existentialism, it is not surprising that the canonicity of the Epistle of Jude was long disputed, but praise Yahweh that it was finally established, along with that of his half-brother James's epistle, to counteract all the antinomian teaching that has deluged Christianity. We therefore owe the two half-brothers of Yah'shua an immeasurable debt of gratitude for straightening out those who would twist Paul and use the liberty we have in Christ as an excuse for lawlessness. Amen.