We are continuing our verse by verse study of the little book of Jude. Jude is a letter written to a church dealing with false teachers who threatened the orthodoxy of the original apostle's message. The church addressed in this letter had already heard the apostle's message and believed it. But now false teachers, who claimed to have new revelations from a higher source, infiltrated the church, causing division and conflict as they attempted to replace the original apostle's message.
The Epistle of Jude has a definite chiastic structure. The outline clearly shows that the importance of Jude pertains to the church and its preservation. The battle against the apostates is at the heart of the letter.
Today we come to Jude 11, which is an important verse because it is the center of the chiasm. Several weeks ago Jeff taught on chiasm so if you need a refresher go review that message. I don't want to spend a lot of time on this since Jeff recently covered it, but let's review what a chaism is.
According to Thomas B. Clarke, "A chiasm (or chiasmus) is a writing style that uses a unique repetition pattern for clarification and/or emphasis. Often called the chiastic approach or the chiastic structure, this repetition form appears throughout the Bible yet it is not well known. The way you approach the Scriptures should be dramatically enhanced as you learn what a chiasm is, how to recognize chiasms, and how to glean a fresh application from these New or Old Testament passages."
So a chiasm is a literary structure. It is a writing style that uses a unique repetition pattern to show clarity and emphasis within a story. Bryan Davis writes, "Parallelisms and chiasms were a seriously needed element of internal organization in ancient writings, which did not make use of paragraphs, punctuation, capitalization and other such synthetic devices to communicate the conclusion of one idea and the commencement of the next." Bryan goes on to say, "This can show why Chiasmus was attractive to the ancient Hebrew. First, chiasms are easy to memorize and would be useful since the Hebrew tradition was mainly oral. Second, chiasmus was in vogue. Just as 16th century English poets were fond of the sonnet, chiasmus seems to have been preferred by many of the ancient Hebrew writers. Third, the form can be very pleasing aesthetically."
As I said, Jude 11 is the center of the chiasm and the center of a chiasm is understood to be the key focus of the text, and where we are to look to grasp the emphasis of the whole story. Here's how Jude breaks down as a chiasm:
Assurance for the Christian (Jude 1, 2)
The believer and the faith (Jude 3)
Apostates described (Jude 4)
Apostasy in Old Testament History (Jude 5-8)
Apostates in the supernatural realm (Jude 9, 10)
An ancient trio of apostates (Jude 11)
Apostates in the natural realm (Jude 12, 13)
Apostasy in Old Testament prophesy (Jude 14 - 16)
Apostates described (Jude 17-19)
The believer and the faith (Jude 20-23)
Assurance for the Christian (Jude 24, 25).
Jude is a good example of a chiasm. Verse 11 is the center, and the center of a chiasm is understood to be the key focus of the text.
Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. Jude 1:11 NASB
Notice that there is a progression here. They have gone the way of Cain. They have rushed into the error of Balaam. And they have perished in the rebellion of Korah. First there is a path they take, then there is an escalation of their speed, and ultimately their disastrous end. All these men are involved in false doctrine. They have departed from the truth, which is apostasy.
Jude's use of these examples suggests that his readers were well versed in the Hebrew Scriptures, because Jude does not elaborate on the sins of these three men. And these three examples are all familiar to students of the Bible also.
"Woe to them!"—this is called a "woe oracle" by scholars. Woe is from the Greek word ouai, which is an eerie sound that some say is like the cry of an eagle. It is an onomatopoeic word which serves as an interjection expressing a cry of intense distress, displeasure or horror. It conveys a warning of impending disaster to the hearers.
Jude follows the example of the earlier authors of Scripture, such as Moses, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, John the Baptist, and then the example of our Lord Himself. In Matthew chapter 23 in one of the great sermons of our Lord, He speaks in the same language as Jude by saying:
"But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. Matthew 23:13 NASB
Yeshua goes on to say, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites," "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites," "Woe to you blind guides," "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites," "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites," They must have gotten the message by about that sixth or seventh time that He said that.
Most New Testament uses of ouai are in the context of warning about inevitable, impending judgment. Ouai in used in the Septuagint (LXX) to translate two Hebrew words, Oy and Hoy, which are used of a funeral lament, a cry to get attention, but mostly as an announcement of doom. Hoy and oy are usually a cry of despair and/or a call for one's attention because of impending divine judgment.
So Jude is saying, "Woe to them," judgment is coming upon them. "Them" being the "creepers" of verse 4 who have infiltrated the church. So here is a woe article, and the lessons from history have to do with Cain and Balaam and Korah.
"For they have gone the way of Cain"—Cain was the first heretic in the Bible. In fact, in Jewish literature he is called the first heretic. He was a rebel against God. We find his story in Genesis 4:
Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, "I have gotten a manchild with the help of the LORD." Again, she gave birth to his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the LORD of the fruit of the ground. Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering; Genesis 4:1-4 NASB
We see that early on, right after the fall of man, man knew that they had to bring an offering to Yahweh because of their sin. Yahweh had obviously given them some instruction for this. They knew that their sinfulness and their rebellion against Him required an atonement:
but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? "If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it." Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. Genesis 4:5-8 NASB
This is the first recorded murder as Cain kills his own brother Abel. Why did Yahweh not have regard for Cain's offering, but did have regard for Abel's? Listen to Hebrews 4, which is a commentary on this:
By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks. Hebrews 11:4 NASB
Able was born outside Eden, so he never had the opportunity to know Yahweh in the personal way that his parents had, but he did know Him. These two boys bring an offering to God, one is accepted and one is rejected. Why? The writer of Hebrews tells us that Able's sacrifice was a "better sacrifice"—the word "better" is from the Greek word polus, which means: "greater or more important sacrifice." Why was Able's sacrifice better? It was better because it was offered in faith. That is the thrust of the entire eleventh chapter of Hebrews. The thing that sets these brothers apart is faith!
To do something by faith you must do it in response to and according to a word from God. It was by faith because he brought it in response to God's Word. He must have believed something that God had revealed to him.
So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the LORD of the fruit of the ground. Genesis 4:3 NASB
The phrase "in the course of time"—is literally rendered: "at the end of days." In other words, at the end of a prescribed time. Yahweh must have revealed a special day to sacrifice. I think this is also indicated by the fact that they both came at the same time, and they both seemingly had information regarding the sacrifice. What did Yahweh tell them? They had a promise of a coming redeemer:
And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel." Genesis 3:15 NASB
And in Genesis 3:21 we see that sin brought death:
The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them. Genesis 3:21 NASB
Animals were sacrificed to cover Adam's and Eve's sin. Adam and Eve must have taught their children that death was a result of sin. And by faith in God's provision Able offered a sacrifice:
Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering; Genesis 4:4 NASB
The separate mention of the "fat" tells us that the lamb had been slain.
It was not intrinsic merit in the firstling of the flock above the fruit of the ground. It was faith in God's appointed means that made the difference. The sacrifice implied an acknowledgment of his own desert of death and a confession that he believed that the death of an innocent substitute would be accepted by God for his own deliverance from the judgement of sin.
Able understood one of the greatest truths a man can know; Able understood the way in which it is necessary to approach God. He understood that God is approached only through faith.
Cain was grieved that God wouldn't accept his sacrifice—that's the same today,
isn't it? When you preach that there's one way to heaven, and it's through the cross, the blood of the cross, people get upset.
Cain thought that his own works could justify him in the sight of God. Apostates always think that there is something that they can do, and they thereby pervert the Gospel of grace. They change it to a Gospel of works. This is the way of Cain. The way of Cain is to think that you can somehow get right with God and become a child of God, by taking some action.
That is thinking that some action on my part—however small or seemingly insignificant—can justify me, can save me, and can cause me to stand in the presence of Christ. However, God does not have respect unto those types of offerings. He did not have respect unto Cain's offering, and neither will He have respect unto the multitudes in the churches of our day who think that they can save themselves. Yahweh rejects those who try to get right with Him and who try to become justified on their own terms by doing the works of the Law. Nothing that we do with our hands can ever cause us to enter into the presence of Yahweh. Works will only bring us under His judgment. We will end up exactly as Cain.
We have many people today who still slander the way of approach to Yahweh through Yeshua the Christ and through his atoning sacrifice. It is our Lord Himself who said:
Yeshua said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. John 14:6 NASB
An exclusive way of salvation is taught plainly by our Lord and by all of the other New Testament writers. And John Hagee is an apostate when he teaches that the Jews do not need Yeshua and the Gospel. That is a damnable lie!
The story ends when Cain is banished from the presence of Yahweh, a mark is put upon him so that he will not be killed but rather have to live his entire life tormented by being expelled from God's presence and from blessing.
The point is that just as Cain was punished for his sins, so would Yahweh punish those apostates of whom Jude was warning his readers; those who troubled the brethren with false doctrine would also be punished.
"And for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam"—the story of Balaam is found in Numbers 22-24. You remember when the children of Israel were journeying from Egypt to the land. They camped in the plains of Moab beyond Jordan opposite Jericho. And Balak, who was the King of Moab, saw what Israel had done to the Amorites and evidently knew what Yahweh had done for them in coming out of Egypt, and he became very fearful:
So Moab was in great fear because of the people, for they were numerous; and Moab was in dread of the sons of Israel. Numbers 22:3 NASB
So Balak sends representatives to Pethor to pay Balaam, a seer, to curse Israel:
"Now, therefore, please come, curse this people for me since they are too mighty for me; perhaps I may be able to defeat them and drive them out of the land. For I know that he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed." Numbers 22:6 NASB
Indicating that Balaam had a reputation for being able to directly connect to the gods. Balaam insists that he must consult Yahweh, since he can only do what Yahweh says:
Balaam replied to the servants of Balak, "Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not do anything, either small or great, contrary to the command of the LORD my God. Numbers 22:18 NASB
This is interesting because Balaam calls Yahweh "my God." Yahweh initially refuses to allow Balaam to curse Israel or go with Balak's messengers (Num 22:12). He eventually allows Balaam to go with the men—but forbids him from cursing Israel (Num 22:14-20).
As Balaam is traveling, God becomes angry, and the angel of Yahweh blocks his path (Num 22:22). When Balaam's donkey sees the angel and stops, Balaam—who cannot see the angel—beats her (Num 22:23-27). This happens three times before Yahweh opens the donkey's mouth, allowing her to rebuke Balaam:
And the LORD opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, "What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?" Then Balaam said to the donkey, "Because you have made a mockery of me! If there had been a sword in my hand, I would have killed you by now." The donkey said to Balaam, "Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden all your life to this day? Have I ever been accustomed to do so to you?" And he said, "No." Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way with his drawn sword in his hand; and he bowed all the way to the ground. Numbers 22:28-31 NASB
The angel allows him to go with the men—but only to bless the Israelites. (Num 22:35).
Upon Balaam's arrival, Balak takes him to three different high locations from which they can view the Israelites. At each site, they set up seven altars and offer sacrifices, and then wait to hear the oracle of Yahweh (Num 23:1-3, 13-15, 27-30). Each time, Yahweh gives Balaam an oracle of blessing over Israel, which he repeats to Balak (Num 23:4-11, 16-25; 24:2-10).
As we saw earlier in Numbers 22:18 Balaam sounds spiritual:
Balaam replied to the servants of Balak, "Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not do anything, either small or great, contrary to the command of the LORD my God. Numbers 22:18 NASB
But as we look at other texts we see a different story:
The sons of Israel also killed Balaam the son of Beor, the diviner, with the sword among the rest of their slain. Joshua 13:22 NASB
Balaam practiced divination, a practice condemned in the biblical text. Some passages indicate that Balaam tried to curse Israel, but Yahweh either refused to listen to him or forced him to bless Israel instead:
'Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and fought against Israel, and he sent and summoned Balaam the son of Beor to curse you. 'But I was not willing to listen to Balaam. So he had to bless you, and I delivered you from his hand. Joshua 24:9-10 NASB
because they did not meet the sons of Israel with bread and water, but hired Balaam against them to curse them. However, our God turned the curse into a blessing. Nehemiah 13:2 NASB
These texts are saying that Balaam tried his best to pronounce a curse. He desired to curse Israel, he was paid to curse Israel, and he wanted to curse Israel. It was Yahweh who turned the curse into a blessing. In other words, Balaam was saying things that he did not want to say. Yahweh was forcing him to bring a blessing upon Israel when he really wanted to bring words of a curse. These passages emphasize Yahweh's saving acts for Israel.
Hackett suggests that the story in Numbers 22-24 would have had an ironic tone to its original readers: the great diviner Balaam, servant of the non-Israelite gods in the area of Gilead, is in fact controlled by Yahweh (Hackett, Some Observations on the Balaam at Deir 'Alla, 220).
Yahweh our God is sovereign over everything including a false prophet. And Yahweh uses this false prophet, Balaam, to give us four great prophesies concerning the coming of the Lord Yeshua the Christ:
"I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; A star shall come forth from Jacob, A scepter shall rise from Israel, And shall crush through the forehead of Moab, And tear down all the sons of Sheth. Numbers 24:17 NASB
This is a magnificent prophecy that Balaam utters, because Yahweh controls all things, and He can use a jackass to speak if He wants.
So Balak does not get the curse he wants on Israel and Balaam does not get paid because he did not curse. Since he couldn't curse Israel, he came up with another plan: Cause Israel to sin and then God will curse them. The only way to destroy Israel was through corruption. Numbers 25:1-9 recounts how Israel joined with the Moabites in sin:
While Israel remained at Shittim, the people began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab. For they invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel joined themselves to Baal of Peor, and the LORD was angry against Israel. Numbers 25:1-3 NASB
And because of their sin, Yahweh judged Israel:
The LORD said to Moses, "Take all the leaders of the people and execute them in broad daylight before the LORD, so that the fierce anger of the LORD may turn away from Israel." Numbers 25:4 NASB
Those who died by the plague were 24,000. Numbers 25:9 NASB
24K Israelites died, and Balak didn't lift a finger. In Numbers 31:16 we learn that Balaam had advised King Balak to corrupt Israel through intermarriage, which would induce Israel to worship idols:
"Behold, these caused the sons of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, so the plague was among the congregation of the LORD. Numbers 31:16 NASB
We see in Revelation 2 that Yahweh says to the church of Pergamum:
'But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality. Revelation 2:14 NASB
The teaching of Balaam is to seduce the people of God into sin, to get them to sin so that they are judged by Yahweh. The doctrine of Balaam is to cause the church to commit immorality and idolatry thus bringing the judgment of God upon them.
"And for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam"—the Greek word here for "rushed headlong" is ekcheo. Thayer says it is "used of those who give themselves up to a thing." The Greek word is literally the word "poured" like a river rushing downhill.
The word "error" is a wandering, a straying about, whereby one, led astray from the right way, roams to and fro. And "pay" is misthos, which literally refers to pay which is due for labor performed or dues paid for work.
The idea is that Balaam put aside all restraint and rushed headlong to a course of life that promised material gain. Jude says because they want to be paid, these men rush headlong into the error of Balaam. Peter puts it this way:
having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children; forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 2 Peter 2:14-15 NASB
"They have gone astray"—is from the Greek planao. Figuratively planao means: "a going astray (as from orthodox, sound doctrine) or a wandering out of the right way." Vincent says planao is "an error which shows itself in action."
The Mishnah states: "The characteristics of the talmidim of Bil'am the wicked are an evil eye [i.e., stinginess or greed; see Mt 6:22,23] a proud soul…. They inherit Gey-Hinnom and descend to the pit of destruction." (Avot 5:19)
Balaam did not really care anything about God's people as long as he benefitted financially. What about so many of the so-called televangelists—men who's TV programs are almost exclusively dedicated to getting people to send them money. Men like Creflo Dollar. This type of false teacher preaches the health and wealth Gospel: "Send in your money and God will bless you with health and wealth." And people, mostly poor people, fall for that and send in their money, and the false teacher becomes very wealthy.
Balaam is killed in Israel's battle with the Midianites:
They killed the kings of Midian along with the rest of their slain: Evi and Rekem and Zur and Hur and Reba, the five kings of Midian; they also killed Balaam the son of Beor with the sword. Numbers 31:8 NASB
Balaam then represents two things: the covetousness of the false teacher who loves money, and the apostate who influences others to sin. In a sense, he's a step beyond Cain. Cain just sinned. Balaam got God's people to sin.
"And perished in the rebellion of Korah"—we learn from Exodus 6:16& 21 that Korah was a Levite, which would make him a near relative of Moses and Aaron. The story of Korah is told in Numbers 16. Because Korah was a Levite that put him in a sense of responsibility, because as a Levite his job was to take care of the temple, take care of the worship.
Korah was one of the chief men of Israel, and he became very jealous of Moses and Aaron so he rose up in rebellion against them and against their spiritual rule over the congregation:
They assembled together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, "You have gone far enough, for all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is in their midst; so why do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?" Numbers 16:3 NASB
In Hebrew tradition, Korah was considered to have possessed great wealth, adding to his own sense of self-importance (Mitchell, God Will Redeem, 368). Mirguet suggests that Korah is attempting to usurp Moses' position and install a new priesthood (Mirguet, Numbers 16, 320-21).
Moses' response was to put out a challenge:
and he spoke to Korah and all his company, saying, "Tomorrow morning the LORD will show who is His, and who is holy, and will bring him near to Himself; even the one whom He will choose, He will bring near to Himself. Numbers 16:5 NASB
Moses makes it clear that Korah, and those involved with him, are not really challenging Moses and Aaron but Yahweh:
"Therefore you and all your company are gathered together against the LORD; but as for Aaron, who is he that you grumble against him?" Numbers 16:11 NASB
Not real smart to gather against Yahweh.
Thus Korah assembled all the congregation against them at the doorway of the tent of meeting. And the glory of the LORD appeared to all the congregation. Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, "Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them instantly." Numbers 16:19-21 NASB
So Moses warns the people, and they all get away from Korah and his company.
Moses said, "By this you shall know that the LORD has sent me to do all these deeds; for this is not my doing. "If these men die the death of all men or if they suffer the fate of all men, then the LORD has not sent me. Numbers 16:28-29 NASB
Moses says you will know that I am not Yahweh's appointed leader if these men die a normal death. But if the ground opens up and swallows them, then you know I am Yahweh's man:
and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men who belonged to Korah with their possessions. So they and all that belonged to them went down alive to Sheol; and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly. Numbers 16:32-33 NASB
Moses records the terrifying, dramatic destruction of Korah (and his family—fathers, our sins may be practiced in private, but the consequences can permeate through our families!)
Fire also came forth from the LORD and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering the incense. Numbers 16:35 NASB
So how big was the rebellion? How big was their effect? Was it just Korah and the 250?" The popular support gained by Korah is evident in the aftermath of the incident, as the people blame Moses for the rebels' destruction:
But on the next day all the congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron, saying, "You are the ones who have caused the death of the LORD'S people." Numbers 16:41 NASB
Are these people crazy? They just see Korah and his buddies swallowed by the earth and the 250 burned up with fire, and they blame Moses. Do you really want to grumble against a man who could do this? So Yahweh judges them with a plague:
But those who died by the plague were 14,700, besides those who died on account of Korah. Numbers 16:49 NASB
Almost fifteen-thousand people died in a subsequent plague. That's how effective their rebellion was. Only Aaron's intervention as priest tempers Yahweh's wrath.
"And perished in the rebellion of Korah"—as we have seen, the rebellion of Korah was against Yahweh and His appointed representatives.
Notice that the word perished is not future, but aorist indicative and is almost surely proleptic (referring to the certainty of their future judgment). So sure was the doom of these deceivers that Jude says they have already perished!
Rebellion is from the Greek antilogia; from anti, which means: "against" and lego, which means: "speak"; it literally means: "speaking against" or "talking back" reflective of opposition and/or rebellion. In Numbers 16:1-3 Korah spoke against (antilego—he "opposed" or "contradicted") God's servant Moses.
Korah led many people to their deaths through false doctrine. He wanted to function as a leader and did not recognize the delegated authority of Moses. Yahweh warned Israel of the sin of rebellion in:
"For rebellion is as the sin of divination, And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has also rejected you from being king." 1 Samuel 15:23 NASB
All these men, Cain, Balaam, Korah all rebelled against Yahweh and His doctrine. They wanted to do things their way, they wanted to make money from their disobedience, and they wanted to be in control. So we see that Israel, the angels, Sodom and Gomorrah, Cain, Balaam, and Korah all remind us of the judgment on apostasy and all exhort us to flee from apostasy.
Here is what Spurgeon said about false teaching, "The new views are not old truth in a better dress, but deadly errors with which we can have no fellowship. I cannot endure false doctrine however neatly it may be put before me. Would you have me eat poisoned meat because the dish is of the choicest wear?"
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