Thursday, February 21, 2008

Exposition of Jude: Part 7 of 25

Image: First century Roman ink pot plucked from the Tiber River (British Musuem).

Note: This study resumes a verse by verse exposition of Jude began last year. This and previous entries are archived below under the label "Jude Exposition."

Jude 1:7 as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

Jude warns against the wrath and judgement of God. In 1:6 he describes God’s wrath upon the disobedient angels "who did not keep their proper domain." In v. 7 he highlights the classic Old Testament account of Sodom and Gomorrah (see Genesis chapters 18-19).

Note that Jude says the judgement was not just on those cities but also on "the cities around them." As Christians act like salt and light to those around them (Matt 5:13-14), so also evil has a corrosive and contaminating influence on those who surround it. Paul warns in 1 Corinthians 15:33: "Evil company corrupts good habits."

Note also Jude’s description of the passive nature of God’s judgement. The inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah had "given themselves over" to sin. In his description of sinners in Romans 1:24 Paul says, "Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves." Sometimes the most sever punishment God can render is letting us go our own way in sin without his gracious intervention. These wicked men brought God’s righteous wrath down on their own heads!

What was the nature of their sin? Jude says they gave themselves over to "sexual immorality" (Greek verb: ekporneuo). To be precise, they went after "strange flesh." This refers to the perversion of homosexual behavior (see Genesis 19:4-9). God created a simple, beautiful, good design of one man and one woman, joining in a one flesh union of covenant marriage that lasts a lifetime (see Gen 2:24). Anything less than that is an affront to a holy God (read carefully Romans 1:18-32).

As a result of their sin, those who insulted God suffered "the vengeance of eternal fire." Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by "brimstone and fire" (Gen19:24). More fearsome than any temporal judgment, however, is the warning here about eternal judgement for the wicked. Jesus taught that we should not merely fear the one who can harm the physical body, but he said, "Fear Him, who after He has killed has the power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!" (Luke 12:5). Jude 1:7 also calls on us to fear God.

1. How does this passage refute our tendency to stress God’s grace but to ignore his wrath and judgement?
2. Where would we be if God simply "gave us over" to our sinful desires?
3. Why is homosexual behavior offensive to God?
4. What does this text teach us about the reality of hell?
5. How will warnings like this one be used of God to keep you from sin and to admire more Christ’s work on the cross?


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