Friday, June 17, 2011

Jude 1:9 and Michael's dispute with the devil about the body of Moses

Image:  Mount Nebo

Jude 1:9 Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.

I did an exposition last Sunday afternoon that covered Jude 1:9.  This verse includes a reference to Michael the archangel's dispute with the devil over the body of Moses (an event without narration in the canonical Scriptures but described in the extra-biblical Assumption of Moses).  Here are some notes: 

What do we make of this event? Why did the devil want Moses body? In his exposition of Jude, MacArthur writes that he believes the devil was claiming Moses’ body because he was a murderer (Exod 2:12; Beware the Pretenders, p. 58). He also suggests that perhaps the devil wanted the body of Jesus to have it become a relic, an object of false worship (see p. 59). In this way the body of Moses would be like the supposed pieces of the cross that were venerated during the Middle Ages or a tooth from St. Francis! Moses—like Calvin centuries later—would leave no record of the physical place where he was buried. His death is recorded in Deuteronomy 34 but not the resting place of his body. No shrine to Moses could be raised by Israel.  One might add that perhaps Satan was grasping for a way to thwart Moses’ participation in final the resurrection.  This would, of course, fail.

Jude’s primary desire in this passage, however, is to illustrate the proper attitude of the faithful in responding to false teachers. Even Michael when confronting as diabolical a figure as the devil himself, did not denounce him in his own power. Instead, he made his appeal to a sovereign God, saying, “The Lord rebuke thee!” The emphasis, then, is on the humility of Moses in spiritual conflict.


It is always wrong to pronounce a “railing judgment” [AV: “railing accusation]…against someone in authority. And if Michael would not speak evil of Satan, how much more should we not speak evil of governmental authorities, church leaders, and especially God Himself! In fact, the Apostle Paul urges Christians to “speak evil of no man” (Titus 3:2 KJV) [p. 58].

When we face false teachers, Jude urges, we should trust the Lord of all the earth to do right in the end. He will rebuke those who oppose him.

Here is the model: As Michael responded to the devil, so orthodox believers are to respond to false teachers.


No comments: