“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.”
b. The Judgment of God
Jude tells us that these people, who did not believe in God even after He delivered them from Egypt, were destroyed by God. We read of this destruction in Numbers 14:26-38. Here we see that God did not allow an entire generation of Israelites, except for two, to see the promise land. All the people of this generation, who allowed the unbelieving spies to lead them into unbelief, died in the wilderness.
In case you are wondering, God did keep His promise. In Joshua 24:8 God said this to His people, Then I brought you into the land of the Amorites who live beyond the Jordan, and they fought with you; and I gave them into your hand, and you took possession of their land when I destroyed them before you.
God gave the people the Promised Land, and He destroyed their enemies just as he had promised.
As for the unbelieving spies, God struck them down through a plague. This physical destruction is illustrative of the spiritual destruction that the “certain persons” from v. 4 would face. These certain persons claimed to be a part of the people of God, and yet they did not believe God. They were fake Christians threatening the very truth of the gospel. Because of this rebellion you can be sure that God dealt with them swiftly and decisively just as he did with the unbelieving spies.
Jude used the example of the unbelieving Israelites to point out the unbelief and ultimate doom of the certain persons (as well as those who followed them). In 1 Corinthians 10:5-11 the apostle Paul also recounted Israel’s unbelief. His conclusion was that “these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.”(v. 11) Since the reason that these things were written was “for our instruction” what must we learn from this example? First, are we letting people who do not trust God lead us into unbelief? All around us there are people just like these certain persons. They distain the Lordship of Christ, and they are in complete rebellion towards God. It has been my experience that people like this are always looking for opportunities to lead God’s people into unbelief. One of the most commons ways that they do this is by taking advantage of tragic circumstances. You have heard the argument before. “How could a good God let this happen?” This is just another way of saying “I don’t believe in God and this situation is just another reason why you shouldn’t either!” Unfortunately there are churches all over who have fallen prey to this lie. There are even “Christian theologians” who claim that God is just as surprised as we are when bad things happen. We as the Church must not fall for lies such as this. We must remember that God is in control of all things, and He is working all things out so that He will be glorified through His people (Rom 8:28; James 1:2-4). This can be very hard to swallow when a family member is dying of cancer or you when your wife has a miscarriage. It is in moments like these that we need to let Scripture lead us rather than “certain persons” who do not even believe in God. This is when we need the Holy Spirit to help us see God’s plan from an eternal perspective, and trust in Him. Like Caleb and Joshua we must remember that God is a powerful God who keeps His promises.
Another thing we must learn from this passage is that we need Jesus. Even though God continues to provide for us, just as He did with Israel, there are times when we all distrust God. When we fall into this distrust we doubt that God is actually in control of the universe. By our distrust we are saying that God is not doing a good job as God, and that we would do better. This is rebellion and this is why we need Jesus. Without Jesus God would have to punish our rebellion and we would all face the same destruction that these “certain persons” faced. Praise be to God that Christ has come and through belief and repentance we can be redeemed through his work.
For those who are true followers of Jesus we must guard ourselves and the church against people who do not believe God. We must be on the lookout for “certain persons” who are trying to creep into our churches unnoticed. If we are not careful then an entire generation of people claiming to be the church will be led into unbelief just as the Israelites were led into unbelief by the ten spies.