Jude has already exhorted: Prove your calling; maintain your confession; study our common salvation; contend for the faith once for all time delivered the saints. Having set this charge before his readers, Jude gives the people strong encouragement to follow through. He does so by reminding them of three prominent Old Testament judgment scenes. In doing so, Jude enjoins the church, which was and is today a mixed multitude: Avoid the pitfall of disobedience; trust God in His word and seek grace from His hand.
Jude’s thinking seems to link back to the beginning of verse 4, “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation.” Jude sounds the note of double predestination. Some persons are marked out for final destruction (Revelation 13:8). Others, by the mercy of God, have their names written in the Lambs book of life from the foundation of the world (Revelation 17:8).
A visible distinction is made between the two in this life by way of endurance and perseverance. Jesus makes this fact abundantly clear. “The one who endures to the end, he will be saved” (Matthew 24:13). Hence the exhortation, “Contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3). Hence the reminder of past prominent biblical events in which endurance is absent and God’s awful judgment is present.
The first reminder is in verse 5. “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.” Those to whom Jude writes have access to the truth once for all time delivered to the saints. They know the stories. But they need to be reminded of them. You too know the stories and need to be reminded of them. God destroyed the first generation of those whom he delivered from bondage. The people turned back to Egypt in their longing. They lacked faith. It is easy for you and me to also turn back. But Hebrews 4:1-2 warns us.
Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.
The apostle Paul also reminds you and me of the situation in the wilderness. He goes so far as to say that the setting in the Old Testament foreshadows the setting of the New Testament Church. That Old Testament circumstance is a type. We are now the church in the wilderness. Unlike those who went before us, You and I must persevere.
For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness. Now these things happened as examples [τύποι] for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved (1 Corinthians 10:1-6).
The second reminder is in verse 6, “And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day.” Angels, full of light and life, abandoned their privileged position. They did not persevere. They did not keep to their own proper place. Now, God keeps them in bondage in unremitting, incessant, unrelieved darkness with their only prospect of final judgment filling their thoughts. Peter echoes this thought. “God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment” (2 Peter 2:4). Your hope and my hope is in Christ. He does not come to the aid of angels but he does come to the likes of you and me (Hebrews 2:16).
Jude’s third reminder is in verse 7. “Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.” Gross immorality filled these cities. They became the object of fiery judgment, a foreshadowing and type of final judgment. Scripture uses no other picture of judgment more often than this one. Scripture refers to Sodom forty-eight times.
The warning is clear. Avoid the pitfall of disobedience. On the other hand, trust God in His word and seek grace from His hand. Paul points to Isaiah 1:9 and reminds us of God’s grace, “Unless the Lord of Sabaoth had left to us a posterity, we would have become like Sodom, and would have resembled Gomorrah” (Romans 9:29). Jude reminds us of God’s judgment of Israel, fallen angels, plus Sodom and Gomorrah. However, while you persevere in the faith once for all time delivered to the saints, you can confess, “But for the grace of God there go I.” And so, avoid the pitfall of disobedience; trust God in His word and seek grace from His hand.