II. The Character of Michael, the Archangel.
a. He did not slander the Devil
A look at the character of Michael, the archangel, makes “these men” in verse 7 look even worse. Jude writes, “But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’” This is a really strange passage, because this is the only reference to this story in the entire Bible. In Deuteronomy 34:6-7 we see that when Moses died God buried him so that no one would know where he was buried (God didn’t want anyone digging up his bones and worshiping him.). Jude seems to elaborating on this account based on Jewish traditions. Thus, the Devil was arguing with Michael so that he could either have or know where Moses was buried. The Devil probably used two arguments in his dispute with Michael.
- As the Accuser the Devil probably pointed to Moses’ sin.
- As the Prince of this World the Devil probably pointed to the authority that he had over the world.
The key to this text is how Michael responded to the Devil’s arguments. Michael was not the judge of Moses; thus he could not declare Moses to be free. Additionally, it was God not Michael who gave the Devil dominion over the earth; thus Michael could not rebuke him in this matter. By not “pronounc[ing] against him a railing judgment” Michael recognized what “the certain persons” did not. Michael recognized that any authority he had was dependant upon the Lord. Michael could not reject the Devil’s accusations based on his own authority.
b. He prayed to the Lord
Michael could not reject the Devil’s accusations based on his own authority he had to depend upon the Lord’s authority. This is why Michael responded to the devil by saying, “The Lord rebuke you!” Michael based his authority on the authority of the Lord, rather than on his own visions and evil desires. By depending on the authority of God Michael’s response was the perfect response to the situation.
In Zechariah 3:1-2 we see a remarkably similar situation,
Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. The LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you!”
In this passage, Joshua the high priest is in heaven before the angel of the Lord (Jesus). The Devil is also there, making accusations against Joshua and the nation of Israel. The Devil’s argument is that God should break His covenant with Israel because of their disobedience. However, Jesus’ defended Israel and appealed to the Father to rebuke the Devil. Michael’s response was exactly the same as Jesus’ response; he submitted to the authority of God.
Jude provides us with this example of Michael’s submission to the authority of God in order to show us just how evil “the certain persons’” hatred for the authority of God was. Michael submitted to God, whereas “these men” did everything they could to disobey God. Ultimately this rebellion would prove to be destructive.
III. The destruction of “these men.”
a. They slander what they do not understand
Jude tells us in verse 10 that “these men revile the things which they do not understand…” These men slandered the things of the Lord which they did not understand so that they could excuse their own sin. This is what they did with the angels. They were willing to do anything to continue in their sinful lives. These men thought – and taught – that sin was more desirable than a relationship with God through Jesus. One cannot help but think of 1 Corinthians 1:18,
For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
b. The are destroyed by what they do understand
These men dismissed the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ so that they could pursue their evil desires. Jude writes, “… the things which they do know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed.” By this Jude simply means that these men were motivated completely by animal-like instincts rather than the word of God. Again we see a clearer picture of these individuals in 2 Peter 2:12-14,
But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed, suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong. They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you, having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children…
When we look at the both the Jude passage and the 2 Peter passage it is easy to see why these men were compared with animals; they were dogs. It is no wonder that these men would be destroyed by these actions.
These men hated God and his word so they made up visions to justify their sins. They showed their character to be the opposite of Michaels character when the slandered the angels to discredit the law. And finally, Jude tells us that these men slandered the things of the Lord and followed their evil desires; just like animals. These men did what they did because they wanted to have the most fun, however they would ultimately be destroyed for their choices. What do you think of their decisions? Jude tells us what he thinks, “Woe to them!”