We are studying the little Epistle of Y'hudah. This book was written by the half-brother of Yeshua our Lord. After the introduction he tells them that he began to write to them about their common salvation but was somehow interrupted and was compelled to write to them that they contend earnestly for the faith. We ended our study last time with verse 4:
For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Yeshua the Christ. Jude 1:4 NASB
What does he mean when he says that they were "long beforehand marked out for this condemnation"? This is not talking about predestination, this simply means that their judgment of apostates had been written about in the past.
What is an apostate? The word "apostasy" is from the Greek word apostasia, which means: "defection from truth." So an apostate is someone, a believer or unbeliever, who turns away from the truth.
Having said that the Tanakh teaches that apostates will be judged, Jude now illustrates the truth that divine judgment upon apostates is no novelty. He cites three historic instances that establish the certainty of the fate that awaits those who fall away from the truth:
Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. Jude 1:5 NASB
Verse 5 talks about the judgment on apostate Israel, verse 6 on apostate angels, and verse 7 on apostate Gentiles. Jude reminds believers of Jewish history as it relates to their present situation.
"Now I desire to remind you"—throughout the Scripture we find that Yahweh says some truths over and over again. This is because we tend to have very bad memories when it comes to spiritual things. Even though we knew something or learned something, we need to have that truth reinforced. We need to be reminded. We need to think about it repeatedly and go over it again and again so that it sinks in and we learn it. We see this taught in 2 Peter which says:
Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. 2 Peter 1:12 NASB
Paul also reminds his readers of thing they know:
Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you. Philippians 3:1 NASB
We learn through repetition. Often in our society and culture people are only interested in hearing new things; we don't like reviewing. We like what is new and exciting just as the Athenians did:
(Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new.) Acts 17:21 NASB
It's great to learn new things, but we also need to constantly be reminded of what we already know. This is exactly why we need to continually read the Bible, over and over again. As we continually to read we are reminded of what we know that we didn't know we knew. As we read the book of Jeremiah, we see in chapter after chapter, verse after verse, that Yahweh is underscoring the point that He is judging His people. As you go on in the book of Jeremiah it becomes almost hard to read all the promised judgments. Yahweh is continually saying the same thing—His people Israel have been unfaithful, so He is judging them; and His judgment is a severe and terrible judgment.
So Jude is saying, "Remember what happened to Israel." Then he says, "Though you know all things once for all"—he is reminding them of what they knew. Does "once for all" ring a bell? Jude used the same adverb, hapax in verse 3 to indicate that these believers had a written record of the faith. This seems to be his implication here too. The Greek word hapax, refers to something done for all time with lasting results, never needing repetition. Jude is implying he shouldn't have to remind them of anything; they have a written record of his. So what is it that they know? "That the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe"—who is the "Lord" here? Who saved the people out of Egypt and then destroyed the unbelievers? Notice what the ESV says:
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 1:5 ESV
The New English Translation Note states, The reading Iesous, "Jesus," is deemed too hard by several scholars, since it involves the notion of Jesus acting in the early history of the nation Israel. However, not only does this reading enjoy the strongest support from a variety of early witnesses, but the plethora of variants demonstrate that scribes were uncomfortable with it, for they seemed to exchange kurios, "Lord" or theos, "God" for Iesous (though P72 has the intriguing reading theos Christos, "God Christ," for Iesous)....As difficult as the reading Iesous is, in light of Jude 1:4 and in light of the progress of revelation (Jude being one of the last books in the NT to be composed), it is wholly appropriate. (See Jude 1:5 NET Note)
Trinitarian theology, which BBC has espoused as orthodox Christianity, states that the term "Lord" is a term that applies to all three persons of the Trinity, just as the term "God" is. We really shouldn't speak of God and then the Son and then the Spirit, because that is confusing as if deity belongs only to the first person, but the other names belong to the second and the third. It's much sounder theologically to say, God the Father, God the Son, God the Spirit, or Yahweh the Father, Yahweh the Son, Yahweh the Spirit.
"That the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt"—the story of the Exodus was the most told story of all stories ever told by the Israelites. Why? Because it illustrated Yahweh's redeeming love. The greatest story of the whole Tanakh was the story of Yahweh redeeming Israel out of Egypt. And that, of course, became symbolized, and memorialized in the Passover. Every year when it came to Passover they were reminded of this Exodus, this great deliverance. And so he says, "I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all."
The Exodus is one of the most dramatic and breathtaking accounts in all of Scripture. The Hebrews were enslaved in Egypt. Pharaoh was a harsh taskmaster. The lot of the Hebrews seemed hopeless. It was at that hour of history that Yahweh spoke to Moses from within a burning bush and declared that Moses would lead the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage.
Yahweh would tell Moses that He had seen the affliction of His people down in Egypt, that He had heard their cry for help, and that He knew their sorrows. And now He was raising up a deliverer to bring them out of Egyptian bondage and bring them into a Promised Land.
So Moses and Aaron go to Egypt and demand that Pharaoh let the Hebrew people go free. We must understand that the Pharaoh was considered a god on earth, the intermediary between the gods and the people:
Now the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, "When Pharaoh speaks to you, saying, 'Work a miracle,' then you shall say to Aaron, 'Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent.'" So Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh, and thus they did just as the LORD had commanded; and Aaron threw his staff down before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent. Exodus 7:8-10 NASB
That would get my attention, but it doesn't seem to phase Pharaoh. The rod and serpent were two symbols well recognized in Egypt: The rod was a symbol of authority; the snake was the patron deity of Lower Egypt.
Then Pharaoh also called for the wise men and the sorcerers, and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same with their secret arts. For each one threw down his staff and they turned into serpents. But Aaron's staff swallowed up their staffs. Exodus 7:11-12 NASB
We know how Aaron did it, but how did they do that? As I said, that snake was a patron deity of Egypt. I believe that the gods of Egypt were doing this. This was Yahweh against the gods of Egypt, and their snakes get swallowed up. The ten plagues were a series of attacks against the Egyptian pantheon. This idea finds support in Numbers:
while the Egyptians were burying all their firstborn whom the LORD had struck down among them. The LORD had also executed judgments on their gods. Numbers 33:4 NASB
So Yahweh defeated all their gods and led His people out of Egypt.
Now when Pharaoh had let the people go, God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, even though it was near; for God said, "The people might change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt." Hence God led the people around by the way of the wilderness to the Red Sea; and the sons of Israel went up in martial array from the land of Egypt. Exodus 13:17-18 NASB
Then they set out from Succoth and camped in Etham on the edge of the wilderness. The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. Exodus 13:20-21 NASB
They gathered to Succoth from their homes and farms in the land of Raameses, which is the land of Goshen. Succoth was a military base on the Eastern border of Egypt large enough for this great number of people and flocks to assemble in ranks to depart from Egypt in an orderly fashion by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea.
Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Tell the sons of Israel to turn back and camp before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea; you shall camp in front of Baal-zephon, opposite it, by the sea. "For Pharaoh will say of the sons of Israel, 'They are wandering aimlessly in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.' "Thus I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will chase after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD." And they did so. Exodus 14:1-4 NASB
Leaving the highway, the Hebrews traveled along the Wadi Watir, a natural road through the wide mountain gorge. The Israelites would have been traveling for close to one week, because the journey from Succoth to Pi-hahiroth on the Western coast of the Gulf of Aqaba was about 200 miles. They traveled day and night to put as much distance between them as possible. 600,000 men, plus women, children, and old folk would have numbered some two to three million. With them they carried their clothing, bedding, food, and shelter, leading their flocks and their herds, fowls and whatever else they had.
The Wadi Watir leads through the mountains, opening on the middle of a wide sandy beach on the Gulf of Aqaba. The beach at Nuweiba is large enough for Israel to "encamp by the sea" where the desert had "shut them in" (Exodus 14:2-3). The beach is 4.25 miles long by 2 miles wide. It appears clearly on satellite pictures, and is the only site that matches all points of the Bible account.
The only entrance to the beach at Nuweiba is by the Wadi Watir. On the Northern end of the beach was an Egyptian fortress whose ruins still stand. This would have prevented them from going north after they entered the beach. They were trapped "between Migdol and the sea." Migdol was perhaps a watchtower above the mountains from which the Egyptians observed shipping movements and other activities, relaying any intelligence from watch-tower to watch-tower by mirrors in the daytime and fires by night. Thus Pharaoh would have been constantly posted of Moses' progress. Once Pharaoh's army had entered the gorge, Israel was "shut in" by the mountains.
"For Pharaoh will say of the sons of Israel, 'They are wandering aimlessly in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.' Exodus 14:3 NASB
Skeptics claim Israel didn't cross the Red Sea, but marshland near Succoth called the Sea of Reeds in the vicinity of the Suez Canal. It might provide a plausible explanation as to how the Hebrews crossed, but it doesn't explain how Pharaoh's chariots, his host and chosen captains were all drowned, or how the depths covered them so they sank to the bottom like a stone (Exodus 15:4-5). God's Word says:
For the horses of Pharaoh with his chariots and his horsemen went into the sea, and the LORD brought back the waters of the sea on them, but the sons of Israel walked on dry land through the midst of the sea. Exodus 15:19 NASB
Notice what Isaiah says:
"I am the LORD, your Holy One, The Creator of Israel, your King." Thus says the LORD, Who makes a way through the sea And a path through the mighty waters, Who brings forth the chariot and the horse, The army and the mighty man (They will lie down together and not rise again; They have been quenched and extinguished like a wick): "Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder things of the past. Isaiah 43:15-18 NASB
The Gulf of Aqaba is over one mile deep. The Western (Sinai) shoreline drops underwater at an angle of 45 degrees. However, from Nuweiba Beach, a massive sandbar almost a mile wide at its summit, slopes gently at six degrees until midway across the Gulf; it's 900 feet below the sea, and rises to the Eastern (Midian) shore at the same kindly angle.
The distance from Nuweiba to Baal-zephon on the opposite coast is eleven miles. Nature has formed this land bridge at the narrowest section of the Gulf by accumulating sediments washed from the mountains on either side when the wadis are in flood. Isaiah 43:16-17 calls the great land bridge, "a path in the mighty waters."
Moses and the Hebrew children were trapped on this beach:
The angel of God, who had been going before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them. So it came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel; and there was the cloud along with the darkness, yet it gave light at night. Thus the one did not come near the other all night. Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD swept the sea back by a strong east wind all night and turned the sea into dry land, so the waters were divided. The sons of Israel went through the midst of the sea on the dry land, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. Exodus 14:19-22 NASB
How did the Israelites get across the sea with the strong east wind blowing?:
"At the blast of Your nostrils the waters were piled up, The flowing waters stood up like a heap; The deeps were congealed in the heart of the sea. Exodus 15:8 NASB
The Hebrew word for "congealed" is qapha, which means: "to shrink, that is, thicken (as unracked wine, curdled milk, clouded sky, frozen water)." The divided sea became walls of solid ice, 1,000 feet high. And as the wind abated, the Hebrews walked unhindered for 11 miles across the land bridge above the sea floor to Midian on the farther shore. All the while the Pillar of Fire and Cloud protected them.
This principle by which God froze the walled-up sea is not unknown to the desert-dwellers. Villagers in Iran erect parallel stone walls. Towards night, as temperatures fall, they pour water in the channel between the walls. Wind passing through the narrow space causes it to freeze.
And as day dawned, the ice began to thaw, and the Egyptians ran into it; and the Lord drowned the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. The waters returned and covered the chariots, the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that pursued them; not so much as one of them remained.
I've seen underwater slides and video film by Jonathan Gray, whose team found the site. They show the remains of Egyptian chariots, without wheels. The four, six, and eight-spoked chariot wheels were identified by the Department of Antiquities in Cairo as belonging to the 18th Dynasty, at the time of Pharaoh.
Through the plagues the Lord demonstrated that He was the God of creation. At the end of the narrative in Exodus, Israel looks back over the stilled water of the sea at a beach with no people. And they think of the devastated Egypt that they left, no animals and no vegetation, a land in which creation had been undone. Israel is reminded that her redeemer is the Lord of all creation. He who had just reduced order to chaos was the same as He who had previously ordered the chaos.
And so the people of Israel, remembering the awesome power of Yahweh, faithfully worshiped and served Him all the days of their lives and lived happily ever after. No, Jude says, "That the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe"—Yahweh delivered them and then destroyed them because of unbelief. Jude is warning his readers to not turn away from Yahweh because He judges those who do. The writer of Hebrews gave his readers this same warning:
but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house—whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end. Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, "TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME, AS IN THE DAY OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS, WHERE YOUR FATHERS TRIED Me BY TESTING Me, AND SAW MY WORKS FOR FORTY YEARS. "THEREFORE I WAS ANGRY WITH THIS GENERATION, AND SAID, 'THEY ALWAYS GO ASTRAY IN THEIR HEART, AND THEY DID NOT KNOW MY WAYS'; AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH, 'THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.'" Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. Hebrews 3:6-12 NASB
In Hebrews 3:1-6, the writer exhorted his readers to strongly consider the faithfulness of Yeshua. He expects the faithfulness of Yeshua to inspire their faith. In other words, if Yeshua is faithful to God and for us so that He endures the cross, shouldn't we follow Him?
Faithlessness is nowhere more strikingly illustrated than in the history of the Israelites in the wilderness. The goodness of God, who had raised up a great leader for them and had brought them safely out of the misery and bondage of Egypt, never failed them. Yet, over and over again they rebelled against Him and behaved as though He were their enemy instead of their Deliverer.
In verse 8, the Spirit refers to a specific incident in their history. This event is called "When they provoked Me" (NASB). The NKJV refers to it as "the rebellion," which is referring to a historical event in the life of Israel.
Let's look at Exodus 17. Israel was delivered from Egypt, and they are now in the desert. Their destination is the Promise Land. But before they can enter the Promise Land, they must go through the desert. The desert is a place of testing. Yahweh wants them to learn to trust Him. He can meet and solve every problem that we face:
Then all the congregation of the sons of Israel journeyed by stages from the wilderness of Sin, according to the command of the LORD, and camped at Rephidim, and there was no water for the people to drink. Exodus 17:1 NASB
Yahweh had led them to where they were by a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day. It should have been very clear to them that they were right where God wanted them.
"There was no water for the people to drink"—no water is a test. Every problem you face is a test given by God to make you stronger, to strengthen your faith. No water is a serious problem when you are in the desert with two million people. Yahweh gave them this problem. Why? To help them bring into focus that He delivered them by His power and He could care for them. He wanted them to trust Him.
Two million people and livestock in the desert with no water—what should they have done? Trusted God. Was no water in the desert a problem for God? No, they had just seen miracle after miracle. Think about what these people had just witnessed. They had been in a no water situation before at Marah, and they had seen God provide water. Imagine being there with Israel and seeing all they had seen, and now you are at Rephidim, and there's no water. What would you do? What you should do is thank the Lord for another opportunity to see His power displayed. Notice how they responded:
Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, "Give us water that we may drink." And Moses said to them, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?" Exodus 17:2 NASB
The word "quarreled" is from the Hebrew word riyb, which means: "complain." The noun is marabah.
But the people thirsted there for water; and they grumbled against Moses and said, "Why, now, have you brought us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?" Exodus 17:3 NASB
Did they really think that it was Moses who delivered them from Egypt? If they did, should they be complaining to him? They're forgetting the promise of Yahweh. So Yahweh has Moses strike the rock and out comes water, and the people drink:
He named the place Massah and Meribah because of the quarrel of the sons of Israel, and because they tested the LORD, saying, "Is the LORD among us, or not?" Exodus 17:7 NASB
The word "Massah" means: "testing," and "Meribah means: "complaining." Meribah is the Hebrew equivalent of the Greek "rebellion." They tempted the Lord. Is God among us or not? This is an evil heart of unbelief.
Now we move form Rephidim to Kadesh. Rephidim was near Egypt, the place the Israelites came from. Kadesh was near Canaan, the place where the Israelites were going:
But the men who had gone up with him said, "We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us." So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, "The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. "There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight." Numbers 13:31-33 NASB
And again they were not trusting in Yahweh. Grasshopper is quite an exaggeration. What is the comparison? The average Israelite was about five feet tall, which would mean these people would have to be 300 feet tall to make them look like grasshoppers. Have you ever done this? Do you ever exaggerate your problems? "I'll never get through this." Joshua and Caleb wanted them to trust God:
and they spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, "The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. "If the LORD is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us—a land which flows with milk and honey. "Only do not rebel against the LORD; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them." Numbers 14:7-9 NASB
Look at their response in verses 10 and 11:
But all the congregation said to stone them with stones. Then the glory of the LORD appeared in the tent of meeting to all the sons of Israel. The LORD said to Moses, "How long will this people spurn Me? And how long will they not believe in Me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst? Numbers 14:10-11 NASB
The Septuagint (LXX) translation uses pisteuo in verse 11, which is apparently the event Jude appeals to in order to illustrate Israel's unbelief. This is an evil heart of unbelief:
"Surely all the men who have seen My glory and My signs which I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have put Me to the test these ten times and have not listened to My voice, shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who spurned Me see it. Numbers 14:22-23 NASB
"How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who are grumbling against Me? I have heard the complaints of the sons of Israel, which they are making against Me. "Say to them, 'As I live,' says the LORD, 'just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will surely do to you; your corpses will fall in this wilderness, even all your numbered men, according to your complete number from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against Me. Numbers 14:27-29 NASB
Let's say there are 1,200,000 adults over the age of 20. Think about this! 1,200,000 people over 20, and there are approximately 14,500 days in the period of time which they were destined to wander in the wilderness. That means that on the average, 85 per day would die under the judgment of Yahweh.
Now if we allow 12 hours maximum in each day for funerals to be conducted, that means that there would have been an average of 7 funerals an hour for 39 years. Think about it! Seven funerals an hour, 7 days a week for 39 years. Now if that wasn't a constant testimony to those people of their sin, than nothing could be. They spent a lot of time burying their dead. This is the judgment of Yahweh on unbelief. They wouldn't trust Him, and they suffered because of it.
AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH, 'THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.'" Hebrews 3:11 NASB
"My rest"—from the context of Numbers 14, Israel's rest was Canaan. Their rest was their inheritance. They lost their inheritance because of their disbelief, their failure to trust God in the difficult circumstances of life. Now the writer of Hebrews applies this to his generation just as Jude does:
Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. Hebrews 3:12 NASB
The author is writing to believers telling them to constantly be watching out least there be found in them an evil heart of unbelief. The Greek word "order" is: "a heart evil with reference to unbelief as in rebellion."
Listen, believers, we ALL have the potential to doubt God, the capacity to unbelief. Have you ever doubted God? Be honest. We are capable of doubting God, and it is particularly under the pressures of stress and trouble that that latent capacity seems to rise to the surface and to seep into our hearts like a poisonous anesthetic, robbing us or our spiritual sensitivity and hardening our hearts.
Jude is warning his readers, "Don't you deny the Lord or you also will also be judged." We all need to "Beware" and stay in the Word that our faith may grow strong. Could we apostatize? It happened to Israel, it happened to many other believers. Don't let the trials and testing of life turn you away from God.
We see this same warning given to believers from Paul:
For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; 1 Corinthians 10:1 NASB
This is an urgent statement, pleading with his readers to remember what happened to Israel in the wilderness. Paul reminds them that they were all supernaturally guided and protected by the cloud. And he goes on to remind them that they were all supernaturally delivered from bondage in Egypt, "all passed through the sea." They had experienced a remarkable redemption:
and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:2-4 NASB
The word "spiritual" refers to the origin of this food and drink. At the beginning and end of their journey they drank from water out of the rock. Paul says, the rock was Christ. Behind that supernatural supply of water was Christ.
Paul here transfers to Christ a title that is in the Tanakh commonly used of Yahweh, the God of Israel. The Tanakh often speaks of the Rock of Israel, referring to both his protection and provision (Deut. 32:4, 15, 18, 30-31; Ps. 78:20-35). Paul calls Yeshua, "The Rock," recognizing the deity of Christ. The same Christ who supplies all our physical and spiritual needs accompanied Israel, and His provision for them never failed. With such wonderful blessings, you would think that their future was guaranteed. But verse five tells us differently:
Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness. 1 Corinthians 10:5 NASB
"With most of them God was not well pleased"—that must be one of the understatements of the Bible. We know that God was not well pleased with all of them of military age, twenty years old and upward, apart from Joshua and Caleb. Out of all of the hundreds of thousands of them that came out of Egypt, only two entered into the Promised Land.
Although all were under the cloud and ate the bread and drank the water, although all of them were blessed, God was displeased with all of them but two.As for the rest of them, "they were laid low in the wilderness." Literally, "they were strewn in heaps," a graphic description of the disastrous consequences of their sin.
Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. 1 Corinthians 10:6 NASB
The lesson from Israel's history warns Christians of what will happen to us if we also, with all our privileges, live carelessly. Paul then warns them not to be involved in the sins that Israel committed:
Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, "THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY." Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 1 Corinthians 10:7-10 NASB
Paul is reminding the Corinthians and us that immorality not only displeased God, but it disqualifies us. This admonition is very appropriate in our immoral and decadent society.
Many Christians fall into moral problems simply because they are overconfident in themselves. They enter into relationships that may not be wrong in themselves, but which offer strong temptations. And when the temptations come, they think they can handle it, often to find out too late that they could not. Please understand this, to violate God's principles of morality is to displease the Lord, and it will cost you. Paul reminds us of the result of their sin, in one day 23,000 people died.
In the next example there are 14,700 bodies that are laying in the wilderness dead. These died because of complaining! Did you hear what I said? This is one we all better pay attention to. They died because they complained. You may not feel that you are guilty of idolatry, fornication, or tempting Christ, but who of us is free from this sin? Complaining has become the great American past time. People grip and complain about everything. It's interesting that the most indulged society is the most discontent society.
Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 1 Corinthians 10:11 NASB
"Now these things"—the children of Israel were slain, they were overcome, they were disqualified, they were set aside as an example to the rest of the Israelites of what God thought of lusting and fornication and idolatry and complaining. But that is not the only reason that that happened, Paul says they are written for our admonition. That we should not be careless and complacent about our way of life.
The history of Israel tells us of God's faithfulness while warning of the consequences of sin. Our God is the same as Israel's God, and neither He nor His standards have changed. He still hates complaining. Now notice verse 12:
Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. 1 Corinthians 10:12 NASB
He directs his application to all the readers, but especially to those people who proudly think that they have the freedom in Christ to do anything or go anywhere. We never come to the place in our Christian walk where we are free from temptation and potential failure.
"Take heed that he does not fall"—Paul is saying, Let him who thinks he stands secure in his election and salvation take heed lest he fall under the discipline of God and be disqualified. That is the context of this passage, disqualification in the race of the Christian life. There is no place for carelessness and complacency in our Christian lives.
Believers, Jude's message is that Yahweh judges apostates, those who fall away from Christ. It was true in the days of national Israel, it was true in Paul's and Jude's day and it is true today. Yahweh judges Christ deniers, those who deny Him by word or deed. We need to learn from Israel's judgment. Remember Israel.
The apostasy of Israel and the consequences of it are set forth by Jude to encourage his readers to "earnestly contend for the faith" and not allow the Church to go into apostasy because of the ungodly false teachers who threatened it.
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