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A Bountiful Detour [11-19-23]




November 19, 2023

Jude 5-7

“A Bountiful Detour”


Let’s look at Jude 5-7:

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. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day - just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.


First things first.


What are some simple things we notice?

First, verse five is not a mistake. Jude said that Jesus saved a people out of the land of Egypt. Jude was no rube who was slow to learn. He knew exactly what he was saying. Jesus and the Father are One. Jesus co-existed with the Father from before the beginning, from before the foundation of the world.


Second, he gave three distinct examples of groups of people who endured the wrath of God.


And third, Jesus was the bringer of judgment.


These three distinctives are simple to identify. Simple, yet packed with meaning.


On this Sunday before Thanksgiving, we’re going to do some serious unpacking.


Before we do this, here’s a video of a Rube Goldberg Device. It is absolutely splendiferous:

  • Play video of Rube Goldberg Device…


Sometimes, when I get into a passage like today’s, that’s the best visual for where my mind goes. I get pulled into the old “Alice in Wonderland” down the rabbit hole experience. It’s appropriate that it’s the Sunday before Thanksgiving, because we’re going to travel down a cornucopia of rabbit holes.


So let’s hop to it.


Our first stop is the preexistence and preeminence of Jesus Christ. I am indebted to insights from John Piper as they relate indirectly to Jude, and specifically to our first detour.


Here’s John 12:37-50:

Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

“Lord, who has believed what he heard from us,

    and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said,

“He has blinded their eyes    and hardened their heart,lest they see with their eyes,    and understand with their heart, and turn,    and I would heal them.”

Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment - what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”

 

Our first focus will be on the sad part of this passage. As we’re two Sundays away from the first Sunday of the Christmas season, this also connects Jude with Christmas and the childhood of Jesus.


I had forgotten the specifics of the chronology of Jesus’ childhood, but Piper reminds me that when Jesus was still under six weeks old, his parents took him to the temple to dedicate him to God as their firstborn. Remember, James and Jude come along later. For you reformed Catholics, yes, Mary had other children with Joseph. And when they took Jesus to the temple, an old man named Simeon was there. God had told Simeon that he would see the Messiah before he died. And here’s what Simeon said to Mary at the temple:

And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, 

this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

  • Luke 2:34-35


{Remember, some of the questions we bring to Jude is, “Why do some people reject the gospel?” “Why do some people walk away from Jesus?” “Why are there so many unbelievers?”}


Back to Simeon. All will not be happy. Jesus will be opposed. The dark hearts of many will be revealed. The good news is many will rise because of him. But there will also be bad news. A sword will pierce Mary’s heart. She will know great grief. And many will fall because of Jesus. That’s what we see in John 12. And we’ll connect it to Jude 5-7.


Make no mistake. This conversation we’re having about sad things moves us through Thanksgiving and into the Christmas season. Here’s the give-and-take to, or the ebb-and-flow, to it. The Bible doesn’t tell us sad things to leave us sad. We can only know the happy when we understand the sad. Are you with me on that? If all you ate was lousy food prepared by a lousy cook, how would you ever know good food? We know comfort because we’ve felt pain. We know light because we’ve been in the dark. 

We know joy because we’ve had sorrow in our lives. And so it goes.


Here’s how Jesus put it in John 15:11:

“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”

We know sad things so we’ll recognize and appreciate joy.


Again, here’s Jesus from John 12:44-45:

And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me.”

There it is. Jude 5, “That Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt.” The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Christmas celebrates the incarnation. In John 10:30, Jesus says, “I and the Father are one.” In John 14:9, Jesus says, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” This is at the heart of who we are as devoted followers of Jesus Christ. And then 1 John 2:23 challenges us, “No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father 

also.” Who is Jesus? Jude tells us that Jesus saved a people out of the land of Egypt.


Here’s something you might want to write down:

EVERYONE WHO RECEIVES JESUS MOVES FROM THE DARKNESS OF IGNORANCE TO THE LIGHT OF TRUTH AND FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD.


Here’s where John is going. Chapter twelve marks the end of Jesus’ public ministry. Everything from thirteen on focuses on the final hours of his life, then his death and resurrection. Three years of ministry in twelve chapters and then his final days through his final appearance to the apostles in nine chapters. And these final nine chapters resonate with God’s plan to bring joy to the world.


What’s one of the most beloved Christmas songs that wasn’t originally 

written for Christmas? That’s right…”Joy to the World”:

1. Joy to the world, the Lord is come!Let earth receive her King!Let every heart prepare Him room,and heav'n and nature sing,and heav'n and nature sing,and heav'n, and heav'n and nature sing.

2. Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!Let men their songs employ,while fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plainsrepeat the sounding joy,repeat the sounding joy,repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

3. No more let sins and sorrows grow,nor thorns infest the ground;He comes to make His blessings flowfar as the curse is found,

far as the curse is found,far as, far as the curse is found.

4. He rules the world with truth and grace,and makes the nations provethe glories of His righteousnessand wonders of His love,and wonders of His love,and wonders, wonders of His love.


How beautiful is that? Why do we know such joy? Because Jesus came into the world to die in the place of sinners:

  • Mark 10:45: “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Through the wondrous love seen in his death on the cross, Jesus became the Savior of the world…what joy we have…your Savior and mine. And the path to the cross was planned by God. The unbelief of those who rejected Jesus made salvation possible for all who would believe in him. The unbelievers who clamored for his crucifixion led to Pontius Pilate sending Jesus to the cross, where he died for our sins. What a glorious thing…good 

from bad…light from dark…love from hatred.


Even unbelief serves God’s sovereign purpose. In fact, God planned the unbelief to serve His purpose. Here’s John 12:37-40 again:

Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not 

believe in him, so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

“Lord, who has believed what he heard from us,

    and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said,

“He has blinded their eyes    and hardened their heart,lest they see with their eyes,    and understand with their heart, and turn,    and I would heal them.”


Here's the last thing you might want to write down:

GOD PLANNED THEIR UNBELIEF FOR HIS GLORY.


Jude’s point in verses five through seven is that anyone who embraces sin falls under judgment. That’s the connection to John twelve. The blindness and hardness of unbelief, even when used by God for His glory, does not go unpunished. No one can escape accountability for unbelief or apostacy. As Jesus said in John 3:18:

“Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

The people Jude was talking about, both in the three examples and in the horrible people he addressed in the church, are guilty of unbelief. And we know what judgment awaits unbelievers. Which contrasts beautifully with the joy that awaits those called by God to believe in His Son, Jesus Christ. It is a glorious thing.


Until we go exploring more rabbit holes next week:

SOLI DEO GLORIA…

To the Glory of God Alone

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