Execution of Divine Judgment upon the Ungodly
“Look! Jehovah came with his holy myriads, to execute judgment against all, and to convict all the ungodly concerning all their ungodly deeds that they did in an ungodly way, and concerning all the shocking things that ungodly sinners spoke against him.”—Jude 14, 15.
1, 2. Upon what thought do many persons not like to reflect, and in this regard what did a congressman say of a human court?
MANY men do not like to be reminded that there is a Supreme Court of the universe, a Court of judgment higher than the highest human court. They do not like to face the fact that, regardless of who they are, they must respect the Supreme Judge over all, Jehovah, the Almighty God, “the Judge of all the earth.” (Gen. 18:25) Many persons may not like to reflect that, if they do ungodly things, this Judge of the very universe is watching, just as the Bible declares: “If you see any oppression of the one of little means and the violent taking away of judgment and of righteousness in a jurisdictional district, do not be amazed over the affair, for one that is higher than the high one is watching, and there are those who are high above them.”—Eccl. 5:8.
2 Yes, men in general are not eager to be reminded that a Judge higher than human high ones is over us all, no matter how high a judicial or political position one may have in this system of things. In this regard it is interesting to note the statement of an American congressman as reported in the New York Times of November 13, 1963. In America there is a separation of Church and State, and the chief justice of the United States Supreme Court rejected a proposal to inscribe “In God We Trust” above the bench of that secular court, before which Jehovah’s witnesses have won tens of cases. In a reaction to the court’s decision, Congressman R. T. Ashmore, sponsor of the bill to provide the religious inscription, commented on the rejection, saying: “The tone of the Chief Justice’s letter is most indicative that the Supreme Court would be made painfully aware of the fact that there is an Authority higher than that of the Supreme Court of these United States.” But men do not need an inscription above their heads to be reminded that God is the Supreme Judge.
3. What is the attitude of ungodly men, and with what consequences?
3 If any men are not eager to be reminded of the respect they owe “the Judge of all the earth,” then it is understandable that the ungodly especially do not like to hear of the respect men must render to the Supreme Judge. For selfish reasons such persons ignore, scorn and defy the Judge’s righteous judicial decisions. But woe to these! For execution of divine judgment upon all the ungodly is at hand.
4. What warning counsel is stressed in The Letter of Jude?
4 This fact is stressed in the inspired letter that Jude, a disciple of Jesus Christ, wrote to warn Christians to put up a hard fight for the true faith, especially by resisting corruption from ungodly men. Jude warned that some of the ungodly would even slip into God’s organization, in an endeavor to defile flesh. But in the first seven verses of his letter, Jude set down an inspired warning that the doom of such ungodly persons has long ago been foretold by Jehovah God’s adverse sentence upon the unfaithful, rebellious Israelites, upon the angels that forsook their original place in heaven and upon the unspeakably corrupt inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah who perished in flaming destruction. The penalty such ones paid for contempt of the highest court in the universe serves as a warning to all who are not now showing respect to the Supreme Judge.
LORDSHIP DISREGARDED, GLORIOUS ONES ABUSED
5. (a) What did Jude say in verse eight? (b) In what sense are the persons he speaks of “indulging in dreams,” and with what result?
5 In the face of this divine warning, Jude states, some would ignore it by living in a dream world of sensuality, thinking they could defile flesh in God’s organization with impunity. Jude writes: “These men too, indulging in dreams, are defiling the flesh and disregarding lordship and speaking abusively of glorious ones.” (Jude 8) Such ungodly dreamers imagine they can ignore Bible teachings as to how God deals with the wicked. They have no regard for the command of the Supreme Judge stated at 1 Corinthians 6:18 to “flee from fornication.” Rather, they seek ways to further opportunities for fornication and think they can get away with it. But such thinking is all a dream! It is fatally unrealistic. Their dreams of sensual enjoyment will be shattered by a sharp awakening, as they come face to face with an adverse sentence from the Supreme Judge. The Judge they have failed to respect will show them they are in no dream world in which they can let passions run riot; they will come out of their stupor to find the Judge executing the foretold judgment upon them.
6. What accounts for their ungodly conduct and further shows such persons deserve the foretold judgment?
6 That these immoral dreamers deserve such judgment is further indicated by the fact that they disregard lordship and speak abusively of glorious ones. They have no regard for the Universal Sovereign, Jehovah God, and for his beloved Son, the “King of kings and Lord of lords.” (Rev. 19:16) Because of their disregarding the highest lordship in the universe, it is to be expected that they would also speak abusively of glorious ones.
7. (a) Who are the “glorious ones”? (b) How do the persons Jude warned of show they do not respect glories from Jehovah?
7 Who are these “glorious ones”? They must be those who receive glory from Jehovah God and his Lord of lords, Jesus Christ. According to Isaiah 60:1, 2, Jehovah’s “own glory” would be conferred upon the remnant of spiritual Israel, the anointed Christians. Because “the very glory of Jehovah” has shone upon them, they have risen to shine with the light of the Kingdom good news in all the inhabited earth. (Matt. 24:14) Because of the effulgent glory God has given them through his Son, they are to be respected. Jesus Christ indicated this when he said concerning his anointed followers: “I have given them the glory that you have given me.” (John 17:22) Certainly those of the anointed remnant who serve as overseers have an additional glory or honor conferred upon them, and those ones deserve “double honor.” (1 Tim. 5:17) Now that many of the “great crowd” of “other sheep” are serving as overseers, representing the remnant or “faithful and discreet slave” class, such presiding ones receive glory from God by virtue of the office they occupy as representatives of the anointed remnant; they are to be treated with due regard. (Matt. 24:45-47) Properly God’s people cooperate with and respect the anointed remnant and all the overseers appointed by “the faithful and discreet slave” over the congregations of Jehovah’s witnesses. But the flesh-defiling dreamers, despising Jehovah’s lordship, do not respect glories from Jehovah. They talk abusively of those clothed with such glories, especially those whom the great Judge Jehovah has honored with special positions of responsibility. Like Diotrephes, of whom the apostle John wrote, they chatter about “glorious ones” with wicked words.—3 John 9, 10.
8, 9. (a) Why does Jude contrast the men of whom he warns with the mental attitude of Michael? (b) What was the Devil’s purpose in disputing over the body of Moses, and how did Michael show power as well as mildness?
8 Jude next contrasts the attitude of these disrespectful dreamers with the mental attitude of Jesus Christ, in his prehuman existence as Michael. “But when Michael the archangel had a difference with the Devil and was disputing about Moses’ body, he did not dare to bring a judgment against him in abusive terms, but said: ‘May Jehovah rebuke you.’ Yet these men are speaking abusively of all the things they really do not know; but all the things that they do understand naturally like the unreasoning animals, in these things they go on corrupting themselves.”—Jude 9, 10.
9 In speaking abusively of God’s servants, such dreamers take liberties that even God’s own Son did not take when he disputed with the Devil over the body of Moses. Moses died at Pisgah of Mount Nebo and the Devil wanted Moses’ body. The Devil knew the human inclination to worship relics and no doubt wanted to start a new religious cult around the body of Moses, to corrupt God’s people. When resisting the Devil, Michael did not resort to abusive speech, even though the Devil certainly had no glory from God. He did not run ahead of God’s appointed time. Rather, he showed respect for the Great Judge and accorded Him the right to rebuke Satan. Humbly he said: “May Jehovah rebuke you.” Though Michael’s statement was mild, he showed power by prevailing over the Devil, keeping control over Moses’ body, burying it, as the Bible indicates.—Deut. 34:5, 6.
10. How are the warned-against men so unlike Michael and the holy angels, and so their course of action reveals what?
10 Yet ungodly men who would defile flesh in God’s organization, and who are so inferior to Michael, dare to speak abusively of “glorious ones.” Michael and the holy angels do not speak abusively, and so the apostle Peter makes a contrast: “Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble at glorious ones but speak abusively, whereas angels, although they are greater in strength and power, do not bring against them an accusation in abusive terms, not doing so out of respect for Jehovah.” (2 Pet. 2:10, 11) By acting so disrespectfully such persons show they have lost their power of reasoning and that they have succumbed to animalistic passions. They become like unreasoning animals, made to be caught and destroyed without any resurrection from the dead. That kind of destruction will catch up with all such ungodly men.—2 Pet. 2:12, 13.
LIKE CAIN, BALAAM AND KORAH
11. How does Jude next liken the ungodly dreamers to men prominent in ancient times?
11 Jude then likens such flesh-defiling dreamers to prominent men of the human family who failed to respect the Supreme Judge: “Too bad for them, because they have gone in the path of Cain, and have rushed into the erroneous course of Balaam for reward, and have perished in the rebellious talk of Korah!”—Jude 11.
12. (a) What path did Cain take, and with what result? (b) Why are the foretold ungodly men like Cain, and how must we treat all such?
12 Cain, an elder brother of the human family, saw God’s approval put on the right worship of Abel. Instead of imitating Abel in right worship and with pure motive, Cain hated his brother and murdered him. Cain disregarded a divine warning that he was heading for trouble. (Gen. 4:6, 7) This defiant action showed Cain’s disrespect for the Supreme Judge. Just as Cain’s motive was all wrong, so with those who seek to turn God’s undeserved kindness into an excuse for loose conduct. By leading others in a way that can only result in eternal destruction, they are like Cain in being guilty of murder. (1 John 3:12) Jehovah cursed Cain, and at the time of the Flood his offspring were wiped out. Woe to those who go in Cain’s path! Do not yield to them. Resist them!
13. (a) Whom did the Devil use to corrupt the Israelites in Moses’ day, and how? (b) What happened to Balaam, so what about those who would act like him?
13 Another prominent bad man of ancient times was Balaam, whom the Devil used to corrupt the Israelites when they were in the wilderness. Balaam’s home was in Pethor, a town that has been identified by inscriptions as lying in the Upper Euphrates region.* Balaam was a prophet in that land and one who recognized Jehovah, the God of Israel. But what a different prophet he was from Moses! Moses loved God’s people; Balaam had no respect for them and for the glory God had conferred upon them. When Balak, king of Moab, sent to Mesopotamia to hire Balaam to come down and curse Jehovah’s people by means of Babylonian magic, Balaam did not give a decisive No. He finally yielded to renewed offers of reward. So he went to curse Israel. In doing this he rushed into a course that plunged him into error. Three times he tried to curse Israel, but Jehovah always turned the curse into a blessing, making it clear that “there is no unlucky spell against Jacob, nor any divination against Israel.” Balaam’s heart was not in that blessing. Having failed to curse Israel, he went about corrupting God’s people by suggesting to Balak that, if Israel could be seduced into false religion and into indulgence in animal passions, fornicating with Moabite women, then God would curse even his own people. The evil counsel was followed. Because of the Israelites’ loose conduct, 24,000 of them were killed by a plague at Shittim on the plains of Moab. (Num. 25:1-9; Rev. 2:14) Balaam, who was willing to curse or corrupt Israel for personal gain, finally met a violent death at the hands of those he intended to curse. (Num. 31:8) Woe to those like Balaam! Woe to those who would corrupt any of God’s people by fornication and indulgence in animalistic passions!—Num. 22:1-24:25; Deut. 23:3-5.
14. Who was Korah, and why does he stand as a warning example?
14 Korah is another typical bad man whose catastrophic end stands as a warning example. He was a Levite and had a fine privilege of service; yet he was not satisfied. He wanted more glory. Korah challenged Jehovah’s appointments, rebelling against Moses and high priest Aaron and also drawing into the rebellion prominent members of the tribe of Reuben. Though Korah and these Reubenites had been saved out of Egypt, they never entered the Promised Land. They perished violently. The earth opened up and some were buried alive, while others were destroyed by fire. This was an act of Jehovah God’s judgment. (Num. 16:1-35; 26:10) Woe to those who rebel at God’s theocratic arrangements!
15. What warning does Jude thus give Christians, obliging us to do what?
15 So Jude gives Christians a warning that among them there will be men like Cain, Balaam and Korah. The men they foreshadowed will not escape the foretold destruction. “Too bad for them.” Here, then, is a warning to us today that likeminded men will try to infiltrate God’s organization. They must be resisted by our putting up a hard fight for the faith.
DECEPTIVE-APPEARING FLESH DEFILERS
16. How does Jude describe the deceptiveness of the would-be flesh defilers?
16 To alert Christians further, Jude says concerning these animalistic men: “These are the rocks hidden below water in your love feasts while they feast with you, shepherds that feed themselves without fear; waterless clouds carried this way and that by winds; trees in autumn time, but fruitless, having died twice, having been uprooted; wild waves of the sea that foam up their own causes for shame; stars with no set course, for which the blackness of darkness stands reserved forever.”—Jude 12, 13.
17. What pretense and motive makes these agents of the Devil like jagged rocks, and so what could result unless guarded against?
17 These agents of the Devil who would sneak into God’s pure organization make a showy pretense of love for the brothers; hence they are like jagged rocks hidden beneath the water that cause shipwreck. Unless we “put up a hard fight for the faith” to keep a good conscience, such ones could lead unstable individuals to “shipwreck concerning their faith.” (1 Tim. 1:19) Those would-be flesh defilers attended the love feasts in Jude’s day with unclean motives. Those feasts, not described in apostolic accounts, have been discontinued in their ancient form. Today God’s people come together for spiritual feasts, such as at circuit, district, national or international assemblies. Yet even at assemblies the Devil tries to infiltrate some of his flesh-defiling agents, to catch unstable souls off guard, and lead them, through immorality, to shipwreck. Hence the need to be watchful.
18. Why are these men described with reference to (a) shepherds? (b) clouds? (c) trees? (d) waves? (e) stars?
18 What apt expressions Jude uses to describe these deceptive-appearing ungodly men! They are like shepherds who are interested only in gratifying their own sensual appetites and not in caring for the flock. They are like clouds deceptive in appearance. The farmer believes they will drop down much-needed rain. But these clouds prove to be waterless and are driven away by winds before they can drop down the needed moisture. They are valueless for increasing productivity of the crops. Such men are like fruitless trees, for they are devoid of the fruitage of God’s holy spirit. They do not bear fruit to the glory of God and must be dealt with like unproductive trees in Palestine, which were uprooted, destroyed forever, as hopeless cases. Being without God’s holy spirit, such men are as wild as sea waves that stir up mire and dirt. Such men do not set a steady course by using the Bible as a compass, and so they are like wandering stars that have no set course. No bright-shining place is reserved for them in God’s kingdom, for Jude says their end is “the blackness of darkness” forever.
19, 20. (a) How did Enoch foretell the end of ungodly men? (b) What must we inescapably conclude from Enoch’s prophecy, and how does God convict the ungodly of ungodly practices?
19 It is concerning such unfaithful men, all who fail to pay respect to the Supreme Judge, that Enoch long ago prophesied: “Yes, the seventh man in line from Adam, Enoch, prophesied also regarding them, when he said: ‘Look! Jehovah came with his holy myriads, to execute judgment against all, and to convict all the ungodly concerning all their ungodly deeds that they did in an ungodly way, and concerning all the shocking things that ungodly sinners spoke against him.’”Jude 14, 15.
20 That prophecy concerning divine judgment against those who speak disrespectfully of the Supreme Judge was spoken first by Enoch, seventh in line of human progression, counting from Adam. Enoch was privileged to prophesy concerning divine execution of judgment upon all the ungodly. Just how Enoch’s prophecy was carried for centuries outside the Hebrew Scriptures the Bible does not say. However, it did not appear in the Bible until Jehovah God inspired Jude to put it in. Enoch’s prophecy shows there is just one possible judgment for such ungodly persons at the destruction of Babylon the Great and the war of Armageddon: everlasting destruction, being cut off by God’s holy myriads, the Chief Holy One in charge of the executional work being the Lord Jesus Christ. (Rev. 18:1-24; 19:11-16) The day of execution of judgment draws near, and Jehovah permits ungodly persons to manifest themselves. Thus he convicts them of ungodly practices against his name and kingdom.
MURMURERS AND COMPLAINERS
21. How do these men Jude warns of speak, and so what is their motive?
21 These ungodly men speak “shocking things.” And little wonder, as Jude goes on to write: “These men are murmurers, complainers about their lot in life, proceeding according to their own desires, and their mouths speak swelling things, while they are admiring personalities for the sake of their own benefit.” (Jude 16) Having no real godly devotion, they murmur against God’s whole organization. They are not content with their lot in life; and if they cannot have their own way, they complain, using abusive and disrespectful speech. Like Korah, they pursue prominence. They like to express their own views in arrogant speech, arrogating to themselves a great deal of importance. They single out persons and show admiration for them, trying to cultivate people in the hope of gain from them. Their objective is self-aggrandizement. They really fail to respect the Judge and so come under sentence of destruction.
22. (a) Of what apostolic warning does Jude remind Christians? (b) So what kind of activity do such foretold persons try to carry on among God’s people?
22 It should thus come as no surprise to us that ungodly sinners would try to corrupt individuals in Jehovah’s organization or try to cool off their love for God and his organization. Jude says: “As for you, beloved ones, call to mind the sayings that have been previously spoken by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, how they used to say to you: ‘In the last time there will be ridiculers, proceeding according to their own desires for ungodly things.’ These are the ones that make separations, animalistic men, not having spirituality.” (Jude 17-19) Jude points out that the apostles foretold the appearance of men motivated by selfish desires, who would try to get us out of God’s love. Peter was one of those apostles who sounded such a warning for the “last days.” (2 Pet. 3:1-4) While God is carrying on a unifying work over all the earth, these scoffers would carry on a work of separation among God’s people. Lacking spirituality, they have no zeal for God’s Kingdom ministry. They spend their energy in strife-producing talk.
KEEPING IN GOD’S LOVE
23. (a) What counsel does Jude give for Christians? (b) How can we stay in God’s love?
23 So what is the course for God’s faithful witnesses? Jude answers: “But you, beloved ones, by building up yourselves on your most holy faith, and praying with holy spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love, while you are waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ with everlasting life in view.” (Jude 20, 21) Jude had earlier prayed that God’s mercy and peace would be increased; now for that prayer to be fulfilled upon Jehovah’s people, they must keep themselves in the love of Almighty God. How? By diligent study of God’s Holy Word, reading the Bible regularly in conjunction with the congregation’s Theocratic Ministry School. Attend all the meetings. Deepen the impression the Word of God makes on our lives by helping others to learn of God’s clean, righteous new order of things. Never cease cultivating more and more of the fruitage of God’s holy spirit. Be “praying with holy spirit” for what is in harmony with God’s will, including more of that holy spirit to be upon us. If we thus keep ourselves in God’s love, the result will indeed be mercy, peace and love multiplied through Jesus Christ. We need it to get the work of preaching the Kingdom good news done and to liberate still more from Babylon the Great. We also need divine mercy and so must be merciful to others whose life is at stake.
24, 25. (a) To whom must we show mercy, and so between whom must we distinguish? (b) How do we show them mercy, and how does Jude indicate there is no time to lose?
24 Hence Jude writes: “Also, continue showing mercy to some that have doubts; save them by snatching them out of the fire. But continue showing mercy to others, doing so with fear, while you hate even the inner garment that has been stained by the flesh.” (Jude 22, 23) To do this, we must distinguish between those who are worthy of God’s mercy and those who are doomed animalistic dreamers whose destruction was pictured by Sodom’s fiery end. Such men, by reason of their murmuring, cause unsteady ones to be filled with doubts as to whether this is Jehovah’s organization. These doubting ones may be so shaken by the swelling words of those complainers that they may stop attending meetings of Jehovah’s people. Hence Jude counsels us to have mercy on those who waver and doubt. We must not ignore them. Patiently seek to build them up in the faith. But we must act quickly, just as firemen snatch endangered persons out of a burning building; so we must ‘snatch them out of the fire.’
25 Some may have yielded to the enticements of those immoral dreamers and have thus stained their identity as true Christians. (2 Pet. 2:18) But while we hate stained inner garments, we have mercy upon the wearer of the garments and try to help such a one back to spiritual health.
26. (a) As we help others, what must we do? (b) How do Jude’s words, which are almost a prayer, show the way to avoid stumbling? (c) Contrast the foretold destiny of the ungodly with the privilege of those who stay in God’s love.
26 While helping others to build up their faith, we must continually “put up a hard fight for the faith,” resisting all ungodly complainers, would-be separationists and any who would turn God’s undeserved kindness into an excuse for themselves to carry on loose conduct in the congregation. By our unremittingly putting up this kind of fight, we will be trusting in Jehovah to safeguard us from stumbling. To him be the glory: “Now to the one who is able to guard you from stumbling and to set you unblemished in the sight of his glory with great joy, to the only God our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, might and authority for all past eternity and now and into all eternity. Amen.” (Jude 24, 25) Jude’s words are almost a prayer to Jehovah for his people that He will uphold us and keep us from stumbling if we “put up a hard fight for the faith” so as to stay in his love. While all the ungodly sinners will meet their doom, as long ago foretold by the Supreme Judge, we will be privileged, with unending lives, to ascribe to Jehovah his due.
“Go on walking as children of light, for the fruitage of the light consists of every sort of goodness and righteousness and truth. Keep on making sure of what is acceptable to the Lord; and quit sharing with them in the unfruitful works that belong to the darkness.”—Eph. 5:8-11.
Biblical Archaeology, by G. Ernest Wright, p. 73.