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God Judged His Own People (Jude 5)
by Gino Geraci
4/06/2007 / Bible Studies
But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe (Jude 5, NKJV).
The Need to Remember
George Santayana wrote, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" (The Life of Reason, Volume 2: Reason and Society).
We all need reminding. I have read the Bible many times and have taught the Bible several years and yet I still come across Scriptures that expose my sin, comfort my heart, motivate my soul, and feed my spirit.
For many people the Word of God has a kind of 'half-life' or spiritual decay factor. We read the Bible, see what it says, then forget it. We all need constant encouragement to read our Bibles regularly, but our intake of Scripture should never be limited to obtaining more information. As we read, we have to ask ourselves, "How does this apply to my life?"
The readers of Jude's message were familiar with illustrations found in the Old Testament, but like us they did not always apply their biblical knowledge to personal living.
The word Jude uses in verse five might even be translated "gently remind you" or "put in your mind or bring to your attention." Jude is not beating us over the head with the Bible, but is using the Bible to illustrate a point that "the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe."
We all need to be reminded that God will not ignore sin or sinners, but is willing to discipline unbelief.
In this section of Jude, we're reminded that rebellion against God will not succeed or go unpunished. Jude cites three examples of corporate or group apostasy from history: (1) the children of Israel in their journey out of Egypt and their subsequent destruction in the wilderness, (2) the angels who sinned, and (3) Sodom and Gomorrah.
This article will cover the first point:
God Judged His Own People
Jude verse five tells us, "the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe."
The people of Israel had been in Egypt under the bondage of slavery for more than 400 years. God saw their affliction (Exodus 3:7) and raised up Moses to be their deliverer. Moses demanded their release. (Exodus 5:1).
Most of you are familiar with the stories of the Passover lamb, the plagues of Egypt, and God's mighty hand of power to deliver the children of Israel. Numbers 13,14 tell the story. God promised a land, but the people refused to enter the land. They disobeyed God's instructions. They complained. They cried. They assumed the role of victim! They wished they had died in Egypt (v. 2), and stated that it would be better for them to return to Egypt (v. 3). The Israelites were judged for an excessive desire for carnal things (Psalm 106:14), for the sin of idolatry (Psalm 106:19), for the sin of testing God (Psalm 106:14), for the sin of sexual immorality (Numbers 25:9), and for murmuring and complaining (Numbers 14:2,29). The word for testing or tempting (peirazo) means to try the Lord's patience; to see how far one can go before the Lord says, "Enough!" The children of Israel often believed that God and His prophet Moses demanded too much, His expectations were too great and the hardships in the wilderness too draining.
We find in 1 Corinthians 10 five things that were true of all the Israeli's in the wilderness:
All were under the cloud (guidance)
All passed through the sea (miracle)
All were baptized unto Moses
All ate the same spiritual meat (manna)
All drank the same spiritual drink (the living water) "for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
All of the Israelite's had been delivered, but not all of them entered into faith, into the land of promise. Unbelief kept much of Israel out of the land of Canaan.
It's important to understand however, that the multitude consisted of the faithful and the faithless. In fact, 1 Corinthians 10:5 tells us that God was not well pleased with most (notice it doesn't say, "all") of them. There was definitely a large number of Israelites who were simply along for the ride, but it's important to understand that not all who perished in the wilderness perished for eternity. If all had perished for all eternity, then only Joshua and Caleb were true believers!
The children of Israel had unique and special privileges, but unbelief, which proceeds from an evil heart (see Hebrews 3:12) led to a forfeiture of those privileges. Jude reminds us in verse 5 that God destroyed those who did not believe, so even though we may be saved, we can be guilty of unbelief and be judged.
Jude is not alone in his warning. John wrote in 1 John 5:16, "There is a sin unto death." We are not told the precise nature of this sin, but the text certainly says there is a sin that leads to death. I believe the death referenced is the death of the body. Regarding an individual in Corinth who was guilty of a particular sin, Paul instructed the congregation to deliver such a one to Satan, "for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 5:5). In the case of the children of Israel, that judgment took the form of physical death in the wilderness.
The point of the Jude 5 is to heed the warning. This does not mean we ignore all the Bible teaches about the assurance of the believer. J. Vernon McGee used to say, "I believe in the assurance of the believer, and I believe in the non-assurance of the make believer." Assurance of the believer is real, but God's judgment toward His people who live a life characterized by unbelief is also real.
The fact of the matter is, Christians fall into the same kind of sinful thinking and unbelief as the Israelites did. Sometimes Christians think the Christian life is too demanding and the call to purity unrealistic. They may feel like they are missing out on what this world has to offer. They often believe that God will get over it, forgive them, ignore their sin and pretend like it really didn't happen. They may claim the promises of God are for a different time and might even begin to believe they were better off in the world, living life apart from the people of God and the promises of God.
Are those sinful attitudes a part of your life? If so, it's important to understand that if you neglect, ignore and take advantage of your God-given privileges by abusing grace, you are subject to God's loving but severe discipline. Never forget that the children of Israel abused their position and were severely judged. In order to avoid abusing your God-given liberty, hold fast to the faith and depart from iniquity.
Copyright by Gino Geraci
Gino Geraci is pastor of Calvary South Denver ( www.calvarycsd.org ). His radio broadcasts can be listened to live, M-F from 4:00 - 6:00 pm MST on www.krks.com. He can be contacted by emailing [email protected] .
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