Thursday, February 05, 2009

Exposition of Jude: Part 13 of 25

Note: This is a series of occasional verse by verse expositions of Jude. An archive of this and past commentaries may be found below under the label "Jude Exposition."

Jude 1:13: raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.

Jude continues his relentless attack on false teachers in this verse. The author began to compile a list of five metaphors to describe these perverse instructors in v. 12. There he described them as "spots in your love feasts," "clouds without water," and "late autumn trees without fruit." In v. 13 he piles on two more condemning metaphors to complete the quintet.

Fourth, "raging waves of the sea." Can you imagine the tossing waves of an ocean during a violent hurricane? These men are never at rest. Their positions are constantly shifting, rising and falling with every wind of change (cf. Ephesians 4:14). They are never still, quiet, and content. Their constant movement issues in "foaming up their own shame." Their shameful deeds are like an unsightly scum churned up by their untoward actions.

Fifth, "wandering stars." From our perspective on earth, the stars always seem to be shifting in the heavens. They are not grounded, fixed, or constant. Likewise, these men are not reliable. One day they hold one opinion and the next the complete opposite.

Jude is bold to say that a terrible punishment awaits such men. A particular place is "reserved" for them. The God who keeps heaven for the righteous also holds hell for the ungodly. This place is described as "the blackness of darkness." Jesus concludes his Parable of the Wedding Feast with the king instructing his servants to cast out the guest who slipped into the celebration without a wedding garment: "Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 22:13). The same punishment is given the unprofitable servant in the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:30).

Have you ever thought of hell as a place of continual darkness? A place where one gropes about in agony without ever seeing or finding? Any child who has ever been afraid of sleeping in a dark room, will understand immediately the terror of being locked in eternal night. Abiding in darkness is not the only description of the punishment that this vile place holds for it inhabitants, but it is one wretched characteristic of that place of perpetual gloom.

Note also that those who go to this place of darkness will abide there "forever." Hell is not a place of limited duration. The worm does not die and the fire is not quenched in that place (Isaiah 66:24; Mark 9:44, 46, 48). The smoke of that place rises forever and ever (Revelation 19:13).

Why does Jude pile up these frightening and vivid metaphors? There is, in fact, a gracious warning in his words. He is urging the false teachers to turn back to the ways of truth and godliness. He is also warning the saints not to follow after such men. Jude is a like a loving parent who calls out stern warnings to children who are getting too near a road with dangerous traffic.

  • How are false teachers like the "raging waves of the sea"?

  • How are false teachers like "wandering stars?"

  • Does your life demonstrate stability and tranquility?

  • Why does the image of hell as a place of perpetual darkness strike fear in our hearts?


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