Heed the ‘Warnings Placed Before Us’!
1, 2. The letter of Jude provides what in the way of instruction?
JEHOVAH is a God of warning. (2 Kings 17:12-15; Ezekiel 3:17-21) His people know that he does not wish to see anyone perish because of pursuing a course that leads to destruction. (Ezekiel 18:23, 32) And surely Jehovah’s Witnesses are grateful that their heavenly Father warns, directs and saves those loving him.
2 The inspired letter of Jude provides both warning and direction. In the previous article we learned why Jude urged fellow believers to “put up a hard fight for the faith.” Now let us give prayerful thought to his warnings from the past.—Romans 15:4.
Beware of a Lack of Faith
3. Of what did Jude “desire to remind” fellow believers?
3 Jude proceeds with a warning related to faith, saying:
“I desire to remind you, despite your knowing all things once for all time, that Jehovah, although he saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterwards destroyed those not showing faith.” (Jude 5)
Unless Christians successfully “put up a hard fight for the faith,” they can lose an approved standing before Jehovah God. To prevent this, Jude ‘desired to remind’ imperiled fellow believers of things that they once learned and of how God dealt with unfaithful ones in times past.
4. How and why did Jehovah ‘save’ the enslaved Israelites?
4 In Jude verse five Jude first pointed out that Jehovah God “saved,” or delivered, the enslaved Israelites from Egyptian bondage. God did so after they obediently observed the first Passover. The marvelous deliverance from Egypt was brought about by Jehovah because the once-enslaved people acted in faith.—Exodus 12:1-14, 31.
5. (a) What is symbolic Egypt, and on what basis does Jehovah save people from it? (b) For final salvation, what must Jehovah’s dedicated witnesses do?
5 Comparably, Jehovah saves people from symbolic Egypt, the world of mankind alienated from him. (Revelation 11:8) He does this because in faith they recognize him as the God of their salvation and Jesus Christ as the antitypical passover Lamb whose blood buys them out of this world. (1 Corinthians 5:7) But to share in salvation, whether in heaven or on earth, a dedicated witness of Jehovah must remain faithful to Him and never apostatize and go back to this wicked world and its sinful bondage, even as the liberated Israelites were not to return to Egypt. (Deuteronomy 17:16; Matthew 24:13) Unceasing faith is vital, for although having “saved” a people out of Egypt, Jehovah “afterwards destroyed those not showing faith,” those wanting to return to Egypt or to Egyptian ways. (Compare 1 Corinthians 10:1-12; Exodus 32:4-6; Numbers 25:1-18; 21:4-9; 14:35-38.) Surely, then, for final salvation Jehovah’s dedicated witnesses today must maintain their faith.—Hebrews 3:12, 13.
Dire Consequences of Immorality
6. (a) What was the “original position” of the angels, and what is their “proper dwelling place”? (b) Sin of what kind was committed by certain angels? (c) How did the sinful course of the rebellious angels compare with that of the “ungodly men” mentioned by Jude?
6 Giving a second warning example, Jude wrote:
“And the angels that did not keep their original position but forsook their own proper dwelling place he has reserved with eternal bonds under dense darkness for the judgment of the great day.” (Jude 6)
Angels were created as spirit creatures, having the prospect of eternal life in heaven. (Psalm 103:20; 104:4; Hebrews 1:7) That was their beginning, their “original position.” “Their own proper dwelling place,” or intended habitation, was in the invisible heavens. But certain angels presumptuously forsook their proper heavenly home. The apostle Peter said that they “sinned,” and immediately thereafter he cited events of Noah’s day. (2 Peter 2:4, 5) This draws attention to the preflood time when “the sons [the fifth-century Alexandrine Manuscript of the Septuagint Version says “angels”] of the true God,” apparently by materializing fleshly bodies, disobediently took good-looking women as wives. (Genesis 6:1, 2) Since cohabitation with women was unnatural for spirit creatures, these angels sinned by yielding to what for them was totally wrong desire. (James 1:13-15) Similarly, the “ungodly men” of whom Jude spoke desired to have immoral relations with persons of the opposite sex.
7, 8. (a) What has happened to the disobedient angels? (b) Hence, what must we do to remain in a saved condition?
7 What happened to the disobedient angels served as a warning to Christians of Jude’s day, and serves as a warning to Jehovah’s Witnesses of modern times. Although those angels could escape death in the deluge by dematerializing, they were prevented from returning to their “original position” as holy spirit creatures enjoying the light of God’s counsel and approval. Rather, they have been reserved with “eternal bonds,” with God’s powers of restraint, until the divine “judgment of the great day” of their destruction. Meanwhile, there is no indication that they can materialize fleshly bodies, and they remain out of Jehovah’s service, in dense spiritual darkness, in so-called Tartarus.—2 Peter 2:4.
8 Inasmuch as disobedient angels are not exempt from falling to their destruction, Jehovah’s Witnesses today realize that they can remain in a saved condition only by ‘putting up a hard fight for the faith.’ We must, indeed, resist any humans who would go beyond God-given boundaries and seek to defile flesh.
9, 10. (a) Inhabitants of Sodom and nearby cities were guilty of what moral sins? (b) What warning example was furnished by Sodom, Gomorrah and surrounding cities?
9 Giving a third warning example, Jude says:
“So too Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them, after they in the same manner as the foregoing ones had committed fornication excessively and gone out after flesh for unnatural use, are placed before us as a warning example by undergoing the judicial punishment of everlasting fire.” (Jude 7)
“Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them” apparently included Admah and Zeboiim and perhaps other towns in the District. Due to the wickedness of their inhabitants, by a rain of sulfur and fire from heaven Jehovah overthrew all these cities except Zoar, to which “righteous Lot” and his daughters fled. (2 Peter 2:6-10; Genesis 14:2; 19:18-29; Deuteronomy 29:22, 23) By using the words rendered “so too,” Jude apparently associated what happened to those cities with what occurred in the case of the disobedient angels, who had done something unnatural for spirit creatures by taking women as wives. Here The Jerusalem Bible reads: “The fornication of Sodom and Gomorrah and the other nearby towns was equally unnatural.” Their inhabitants not only committed fornication with women but satiated their lust for men and perhaps even for beasts. (Compare Leviticus 18:22-25.) A mob of men and boys in Sodom lusted for sexual relations with Lot’s guests whom the mob took for men, but were foiled when the two visiting angels struck them with blindness, thereafter rescuing Lot from the doomed city.—Genesis 19:1-17.
10 Sodom, Gomorrah and surrounding cities furnished a warning example “by undergoing [Jehovah God’s] judicial punishment of everlasting fire,” eternal destruction. The charred ruins of at least Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim are thought to lie under the waters of the southern portion of the Salt (Dead) Sea or in that region. So neither they nor their inhabitants are still burning. Apparently the cities themselves, rather than all their inhabitants, were everlastingly destroyed, for it seems that at least some individuals once residing there will be resurrected. (Matthew 10:15; 11:24; Revelation 20:12, 13) But what happened to those degraded cities is a dramatic warning against immoral conduct, one to be heeded by Jehovah’s Witnesses today.
Do Not Disregard God-given Authority
11. How did the “ungodly men” who had slipped in among God’s people compare with the degraded people of Sodom and surrounding cities?
11 Jude next referred to the “ungodly men” and said:
“In like manner, notwithstanding, these men, too, indulging in dreams, are defiling the flesh and disregarding lordship and speaking abusively of glorious ones.” (Jude 8)
“In like manner,” or, apparently, in the same way that the degraded people of Sodom and surrounding cities polluted their flesh with loose and unnatural sexual relations, so the evil-intentioned men who slipped in among God’s people defiled the fleshly body. They had no regard for apostolic counsel to “flee from fornication.”—1 Corinthians 6:18-20.
12. (a) How were the ungodly intruders “indulging in dreams”? (b) What is in store for unrepentant practicers of immorality?
12 Those intruders were also “indulging in dreams,” perhaps because they sought to uphold their views with feigned prophetic dreams. (Compare 2 Peter 2:1; Deuteronomy 13:1-5.) For that matter, their dreams might have involved impure sexual fantasies, or this expression may mean that their teachings were mere “delusions.” (JB) In any event, those “ungodly men” looked for ways to further their opportunities for sexual immorality and thought they could get away with unclean conduct. Let none of Jehovah’s Witnesses today fall into that trap! The Supreme Judge unquestionably executes judgment upon unrepentant practicers of immorality.—Genesis 18:25.
13. What attitude did the immoral ‘dreamers’ have toward divinely constituted authority?
13 Those immoral ‘dreamers’ also ‘disregarded lordship and spoke abusively of glorious ones.’ They arrogantly despised divinely constituted authority. (Proverbs 21:4; 2 Peter 2:10) Like the disobedient angels, those men had a rebellious spirit and deserved adverse judgment because they actually had no regard for the Universal Sovereign and his beloved Son.
14. Who were the “glorious ones”?
14 Those ungodly persons also spoke abusively of “glorious ones” (literally, “of glories”), evidently those who had certain glory conferred upon them by Jehovah God and Jesus Christ. (John 17:22; 1 Peter 4:12-14) Of course, since such glory, or honor, came from God, no direct credit was to be given to the favored persons on earth who enjoyed it. However, all of Jehovah’s Witnesses should respect such “glory” and speak of it accordingly, with chief regard for Jehovah God.—1 Samuel 2:30.
15. (a) How did the flesh-defiling ‘dreamers’ speak about “glorious ones”? (b) What should we do if we have even a tendency to disregard God-given authority?
15 Certainly, those of Christ’s anointed followers who serve faithfully as appointed Christian overseers have had glory, or honor, conferred upon them. Fellow Witnesses should cooperate with them and support them in God’s service. Let us not be like the flesh-defiling ‘dreamers’ of Jude’s day who despised Jehovah’s lordship and did not respect glories from him, but talked abusively about those clothed with such glories. (Compare 3 John 9, 10.) So, if we have even a tendency to disregard God-given authority, may we prayerfully seek Jehovah’s help in adjusting our viewpoint.
Michael’s Splendid Example
16. What contrast was there between the archangel Michael and the disrespectful ‘dreamers’?
16 For our benefit, Jude cites a splendid example, stating:
“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.’” (Jude 9)
What a contrast there was between the disrespectful ‘dreamers’ and Michael the archangel who became our Lord Jesus Christ! (Compare Proverbs 8:22-31; John 6:62; Philippians 2:5-11; 1 Thessalonians 4:15, 16.) In speaking abusively of God’s servants, the ungodly ‘dreamers’ took liberties that even Jehovah’s Son did not take when disputing with Satan over the body of the Hebrew prophet Moses. There is no earlier Scriptural record of this dispute. But in some undisclosed manner Jude received this information and recorded it for our benefit.
17. (a) In the dispute over Moses’ body, what did Michael not do, and why? (b) How did Michael set Jehovah’s people an example of respect for divine authority?
17 Possibly, the Devil wanted Moses’ dead body so as to start a religious cult around it and thus corrupt Jehovah’s people. Yet Michael did not resort to bringing a judgment against the Devil in abusive terms. Michael “did not dare” to do so because of having proper fear of Jehovah. Nor did he run ahead of Jehovah’s appointed time for dealing with Satan. (Revelation 12:7-9; 20:1-3, 7-10) Instead, God’s beloved Son showed respect for the Supreme Judge and accorded him the right to rebuke the Devil. Hence, Michael told Satan: “May Jehovah rebuke you.” Although Michael’s statements were not harsh, he showed power by keeping control of Moses’ body, and Jehovah buried the prophet in an unmarked grave. (Deuteronomy 34:1-6) Surely, in all of this God’s Son set Jehovah’s people a splendid example of respect for divine authority. May we follow it.
18. Why can it be said that the would-be flesh defilers lacked spirituality?
18 By way of contrast, Jude next said:
“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 10)
Although the would-be flesh defilers were so inferior to Michael, who would not bring a judgment against Satan in abusive terms, they spoke abusively not only of “glorious ones” but also “of all the [spiritual] things they really [did] not know” or understand. “Not having spirituality” (Jude 19), they could not comprehend spiritual matters. (1 Corinthians 2:6-16) Jehovah’s thoughts, ways, dealings and activities were foreign to such “ungodly men.”
19. How were the “ungodly men” like “unreasoning animals”?
19 Out of respect for Jehovah God, neither the archangel Michael nor the other righteous angels speak abusively of those upon whom God has bestowed certain glory. But these “ungodly men” did so because they had surrendered fully to animalistic passions. They understood not spiritual things but only what appealed to their fleshly passions. So, like animals that mind only the flesh, they sought the gratification of the fallen flesh. Those men, intent on satisfying base sensual desires, ‘corrupted themselves’ in fleshly sins. Thus they showed themselves to be no better than “unreasoning animals born naturally to be caught and destroyed” without any hope of resurrection.—2 Peter 2:9-13.
20. In view of Jude’s words considered thus far, what course should loyal witnesses of Jehovah pursue?
20 How vital that Jehovah’s Witnesses today completely resist false teachers, would-be flesh defilers and those disregarding divinely constituted authority! Yet, if the counsel thus far considered in Jude’s letter reveals a degree of error in our individual attitudes or ways, may we hasten to change our course, prayerfully seeking the aid of our heavenly Father. And may we ever benefit spiritually because of heeding the ‘warnings placed before us.’
(Our consideration of the letter of Jude will be concluded in the next issue of The Watchtower.)
Can you recall these points?
□ How does the experience of the ancient Israelites prove that we must have unceasing faith to attain salvation?
□ The disobedient angels provide us with what warning example?
□ Sodom, Gomorrah and surrounding cities furnish what warning for Christians?
□ Why must we not disregard divinely constituted authority?
□ What example of respect for authority did the archangel Michael set, and so how should we act?
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Even as God “saved a people out of . . . Egypt,” Christians have been saved from this wicked world. But unceasing faith is required for final salvation
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What happened to Sodom and surrounding cities is a warning against immoral conduct