“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.”
In vv. 5-7 Jude provides us with further insight into the destruction of the sneaky fake Christians described in v. 4. In v. 4 we saw that the destruction of people like this was written about long ago. Here in vv. 5-7 Jude elaborates on v. 4 and provides us with three different examples of God’s judgment on the rebellious (read passage). In vv. 5-7 we will see the unbelief of a people saved by God, the rebellion of angels who saw the face of God, and the ungodliness of a region that revolted against God. I must say at the outset that there are some difficult and graphic sections in this passage. We are going to read about some strange things as well as some very perverse things. It is important as we seek to understand this passage that we are not distracted by these matters. We must keep our focus on the main point of this passage which is: those who rebel against God whether they identify with the people of God, or they are angels, or they are blatant sinners will all be punished. All three of the examples that we will see are from the OT and will show us that God deals swiftly and decisively with rebellion.
I. The reminder from Egypt (v. 5)
a. The sin of unbelief
The first example of the condemnation of the fake Christians that has already been written about comes from the Exodus account. Jude says, “Now I desire to remind, 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.” At the start of this reminder Jude says that his readers “know all things once for all.” With this Jude is complimenting his readers, and letting them know that this is not some unheard of example that he is using. This is a well known historical account that applies directly to this situation. This is part of the faith which has been handed down to the saints. When we first read v. 5 we might get the impression that Jude was recounting how God saved Israel from Pharaoh and then destroyed Pharaoh and his armies in the Red Sea. This is not what Jude was recounting. Jude is recounting how God miraculously saved Israel from the hand of the most powerful king in the entire world yet many Israelites remained unfaithful to Him. Do you remember the story? God saves the people, and then He leads them into the desert. There in the desert they were waiting to go to the promise land. After a little waiting God tells the people to send spies into the promise land so that they could see the land He was going to give them, and so that they could see the people that God was going to give them victory over. The people sent out spies, one from every tribe, and when the spies came back their report was not what the people expected. God had sent the spies to see how wonderful the land was, and how amazing the victory over the people would be. Instead, here is the report that the spies gave:
When they returned from spying out the land, at the end of forty days, they proceeded to come to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the sons of Israel in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; and they brought back word to them and to all the congregation and showed them the fruit of the land. Thus they told him, and said, “We went in to the land where you sent us; and it certainly does flow with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. “Nevertheless, the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; and moreover, we saw the descendants of Anak there. “Amalek is living in the land of the Negev and the Hittites and the Jebusites and the Amorites are living in the hill country, and the Canaanites are living by the sea and by the side of the Jordan.” Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.” 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.
Of the twelve spies that went into the land ten of them did not think that they could defeat the armies of the land. As we look at this account, can you blame these spies for not wanting to go into the land? Think about it, the people were huge and the armies were well equipped. Israel, on the other hand, was just a bunch nomads who had been in slavery for four hundred years. From a military perspective the chances of Israel winning this fight were about as good as the chances of the French Canadians invading the U.S. and taking over and making us all speak French and drive on the wrong side of the road. It wasn’t going to happen. From this perspective it wasn’t the ten spies who were crazy it was two who wanted to invade that were crazy. But Caleb and Joshua were not looking at this situation from military perspective. They were looking at this situation within the context of God’s covenant. They knew that God had promised to give Israel the land (Gen 23:20ff), and they knew that God is a God who keeps His promises. Caleb and Joshua had seen first hand how God kept His promise and delivered his people from the hand of Pharaoh. If God was powerful enough to deliver the people from the hand of Pharaoh he would certainly be able to keep his promise and give Israel the Promised Land. This is why Caleb and Joshua were able to look out at an army of Hulk Hogans and say lets invade those guys. Caleb and Joshua believed God, but unfortunately they were in the minority.
In addition to the report itself, it is also quite interesting how the people of Israel responded to the report:
Then all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. All the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron; and the whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! “Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become plunder; would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” So they said to one another, “Let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt.” Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces in the presence of all the assembly of the congregation of the sons of Israel.
Can you believe what these people are saying? You would expect the people of Israel to know better than to doubt the God who had just saved them from Egypt. In fact, right after the Exodus the people affirmed the promises of God in Exodus 24:7-8:
Then he took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!” So Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
Just a short time before the spies came back with this report the people had made a blood covenant with God, and promised to be obedient to God. God promised the people the land, and they promised to obey Him. How quickly they forgot that covenant.
The people of Israel allowed a handful of people who did not believe that God would keep his promise to have great influence over them. Instead of being afraid of God these spies led Israel into a fear of the people of the land. This is what Jude was talking about when he wrote of those “who did not believe.” These spies, who were a part of God’s chosen people, did not believe God. This is exactly the situation that Jude is trying to prevent in the church. The certain persons had snuck into the community of God’s people (in a sense they were also spies), they did not believe God, and they were trying to have influence over God people. Jude wrote this letter, and provided this example, so that the church would work hard to protect itself from the influence of men like this. These men did not believe God and all who followed them would face the same destruction that they were destined to face; the same destruction that the disbelieving Israelites experienced.