Every time I read the book of Jude I am deeply convicted. He speaks straight! Yet, the redemptive words of mercy, peace and love are woven throughout.
“Mercy, peace and love be multiplied to you.”
These qualities, however, were not functioning freely within Jude’s audience. Quite the contrary! In wisdom, Jude speaks these redemptive words over their lives.
Just like the leaders in my life, Jude brings correction bluntly yet filled with grace. Such is Jude’s brevity and urgency as he speaks. His words emulate mercy, peace, and love.
Verse eleven resounds clearly,
“Woe to them!
They have taken the way of Cain; they have
rushed for profit into Balaam’s error;
they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.”
What are the core attitudes and attributes of these three men that deserves a “woe”? It is an important question to ask since…
“Now these things happened to them
as an example,
but they were written down for our instruction…”
I Corinthians 10:11
Like many brothers, Cain and Abel were different in occupation, attitude and worship. The full story is in Genesis 4. They both worked hard and gave God from their labours. What is the way of Cain?
- Lacked Faith – Hebrews 11:4 explains that Abel’s offering was better because it was given in faith. Faith and obedience are inseparable. It may not make sense to us why God chooses a certain way, but obedience walks through faith. Abel prepared himself as well as his offering; Cain prepared an offering without preparing himself.
- Rage and Indignation – “furious and despondent” (HCSB), “upset and depressed” (ISV), “angry and downcast” (NET). Cain’s name, “a man from the Lord”, shows his favoured family position. Abel’s name means “breath or vapour,” as if it was prophetically given to the shortness of a life unfulfilled. Favoured children find it difficult to come in second!
- Unrepentant – We all make mistakes and err; the frailty of humanity rests on us all. How will we respond when correction comes?
“…sin is crouching at your door it desires to have you,
but you must rule over it.”
Genesis 4: 7
God’s opportunity for a second chance went unheeded! Cain was on a path of doing things his own way right to the end, refusing to humble himself before God or others.
Balaam was a recognized diviner or prophet who clearly heard from God. The king of Moab was willing to pay him a hefty sum of money if he would curse Israel. Balaam’s words could not be bought! Seven times he spoke blessing on God’s people and cursed their enemies. Certainly not what the king of Moab was wanting to hear! (Numbers 22 – 24)
“Balak’s anger burned against Balaam.
He struck his hands together and said…
“…leave at once and go home!
I said I would reward you handsomely,
but the LORD has kept you from being rewarded.”
…Then Balaam got up and returned home, and Balak went his own way.”
Numbers 24: 10, 11, 25
- Greed – At first glance, it appears Balaam was God’s voice of the hour. However, Balaam’s heart and eyes were on the reward. He was not about to miss out. Jude says he “rushed for profit“!
“…followed the footsteps of Balaam son of Beor,
who loved to earn money by doing wrong.”
2 Peter 2:15″
- Perverted Gift – Balaam used his reputation as diviner and his spiritual gift for personal reward and advancement. He devised a plan to wound and destroy God’s chosen people.
“…There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam,
who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin
so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality.”
How can someone be so right yet so wrong?
“The whole community is holy,
every one of them and the LORD is with them.”
Yes, God’s directive was “be holy as I am holy.” Right precept with a wrong attitude!
- Envious – There grew in Korah and those he led a desire to possession a level of leadership that belonged to others. They failed to realize leadership isn’t self-appointed!
“In the camp they grew envious of Moses and of Aaron,
who was consecrated to the LORD.”
- Insolent – NIV version says, “they became insolent“. This rude and arrogant lack of respect didn’t happen overnight. It was a walk down an ever-darkening tunnel.
- Defiance of Authority
” We will not come!…you also want to lord it over us?
Moreover, you haven’t brought us into a land
flowing with milk and honey…”
Numbers 16: 12-14
- Rebellion – Polluted with slander and critical judgments, Korah’s attitude birthed only one thing – outright rebellion. It infected his entire household and neighbourhood!
Jude was addressing a problem with false teachers that infiltrated the group. Teachers teach through words and actions.
Words are powerful containing both life and death,
“The tongue can bring death or life;
those who love to talk will reap the consequences.”
All three men confirmed with their mouths what was in their hearts. Through their mouths came death!
Jude, the half-brother of Jesus, calls us to better. He calls us to words and conduct flooded with “mercy, peace, and love.”
Mercy, Peace, and Love
Jude answers the how question for us. We find mercy, peace and love in one place!
“…by building yourselves us in your most holy faith
and pray in the Holy Spirit,
keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy
of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.”
Today is a new day! A day of placing ourselves into His faithful hands.
The hands of His great mercy,
His indescribable peace,
and His incomprehensible love.