2 Peter & Judeby Eileen Poh
Do you recognise the incidents Jude refers to in Jude 1:5-7? These are three examples of people who came under God's judgment in the past. Of the three, you will probably be able to identify two from the Old Testament.
The first is the account of the Israelites who died in the wilderness (Jude 1:5, see Numbers 14). They could not enter the Promised Land because of their unbelief. These Israelites had been miraculously delivered out of Egypt by God, and were sustained by Him during their journey to the Promised Land. But their unbelief brought God's judgment upon them, and they died in the wilderness.
The second Old Testament account you may be familiar with is God's destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, which had given themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion (Jude 1:7, see Genesis 19). The men of Sodom and Gomorrah demanded to have sex with the two men who were Lot's guests. Presumably, they were already involved in all kinds of sexually immoral conduct including homosexual acts, for Lot's guests–who turned out to be angels–revealed that ″the outcry to the LORD against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it″ (Genesis 19:13).
What about the third example in Jude 1:6, concerning angels who ″did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling″? There is no account of angels sinning and losing their proper dwelling in the Old Testament. However, there was a popular Jewish tradition in Jude's day that these angels were ″the sons of God″ referred to in Genesis 6:1-4. This is recounted in chapters 6 to 19 of 1 Enoch, which was part of a collection of books from the period between the Old and New Testaments. These chapters tell of how 200 angels were filled with lust for the beautiful daughters of men on earth and left their proper dwelling in heaven to come down to marry the daughters of men.18 Their unions produced giants who ravaged the earth, and God judged these angels by casting them into darkness, where they were bound till the last judgment.
All three examples show that God had judged the unbelieving Israelites, the rebellious angels, and the sexually immoral in the past. God's nature does not change. So Jude is confident that God will judge the ungodly people who had crept stealthily into the midst of Christians to lure them away from their faith (Jude 1:4). According to New Testament scholar Douglas Moo, by giving the three examples in this order, ″Jude achieves a crescendo in punishment–from physical death (v. 5) to binding in darkness (v. 6) to the 'punishment of eternal fire'″ (v. 7).19
If someone asked, ″How can a God of love mete out punishment from physical death to binding in darkness to punishment of eternal fire?″, how would you respond?
In 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, Paul says that the things that occurred to the Israelites in the Old Testament serve ″as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did″. What lessons can you learn from the account of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness (Numbers 13-14)?