Today we pick up from where we left off last week on our expository journey through the Epistle of Jude. Today we will examine two lessons from history concerning apostates. One of these concerns Israel's rebellion against God after the Exodus from Egypt, and the other concerns an angelic rebellion against God. This is a part of my verse by verse exposition through the Epistle of Jude for our church plant in Denmark - Kristuskirken. Much thanks must go to John Macarthur for his commentaries and exposition which have been my major source for this series.
1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: 2 May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. 3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. 5 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. 6 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- 7 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. (Jude 1-7)
Verses 5-7 are a lesson in history to remind us that God's judgment and damnation of apostates is absolutely certain.
Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. (Jude 5b)
Just as God saved His people out of Egypt, He also destroyed the unbelieving in the desert:
But truly, as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD, none of the men who have seen my glory and my signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have put me to the test these ten times and have not obeyed my voice, shall see the land that I swore to give to their fathers. And none of those who despised me shall see it. (Numbers 14:21-23).
This also parallels Jesus' first and second coming. The first time He came as a Lamb to die for His people. Next time He will come as a lion to make war with His enemies:
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. (Revelation 19:11-16)
So the first historical example of apostasy concerns Israel. Jude then gives an example of angelic apostasy that is very intriguing and hotly debated:
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 (Jude 6).
What could this be about? There is a parallel verse in 2 Peter which says:
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment (2 Peter 2:4).
There are three words for hell in the New Testament Greek: Hades, Gehenna, and Tartarus. The word Hades appears 10 times in the New Testament and refers to the grave or the place of the dead. The word Gehenna appears 12 times in the New Testament and refers to a firey place of punishment. Interestingly, each of those twelve times was spoken by Jesus - something clearly missed by the "Red Letter Christians". The context often makes it clear which one is being referred to:
"I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!" (Luke 12:4-5)
Jesus is clearly speaking about something other than the grave here!
Thirdly, there is the word Tartarus, which appears only one time in the whole Bible. And that is in 2 Peter 2:4 which is quoted above. Tartarus describes the place where these demons mentioned in Jude 6 are chained up. Tartarus is a word that describes the “deepest abyss of hell”. These demons are so evil that God has already locked them up in Tartarus. It would seem that other demons were aware of this place. In Luke 8 Jesus has an encounter with a group of demons:
Jesus then asked him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Legion," for many demons had entered him. And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. (Luke 8:30-32)
Clearly the demons knew of this place and were terrified. We also see here that the demonic world still operates under the Sovereign rule of God and can only do what He allows. But what about these demons in Tartarus? Why were they there and what did they do. I’m going to give my theory here on who they are and what they did (I have good friends who differ with me on this). I believe you can only find one place in Scripture where this is mentioned:
When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the LORD said, "My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years." The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown. The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Genesis 6:1-5)
The phrase “sons of God” appears in only two other places – in the first 2 chapters of the book of Job to describe certain angels or demons who sometimes come to speak with God together with Satan. What we see in Genesis here, I believe, is that these demons were breeding with the women and corrupting the human race with these giant hybrids. Not only was this perverse, but it was also probably an attempt by Satan to corrupt the human race and stop the Messiah who he knew would come one day, and who he knew must have full humanity as well as full Deity in order to be our sin bearing representative.
Jude is saying that just as God condemned the unbelieving Israelites in the desert after he brought them out of Egypt, and just as He chained up the demons that cross bred with human women, be certain of the damnation coming upon these false teachers that Jude is warning about.
So there we have the first example of God's judgment on apostates which concerned Israel and their rebellion in the wilderness after their deliverance from Egypt. The second example was that of the fallen angels which "did not keep their first estate". And next week we will examine the third historic example of God's judgment on apostates - the Gentiles in Sodom and Gomorrah! Stay tuned . . .
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