Jude

Jude
Paraphrased by Nigel Malka
Jude’s letter
From Jude the brother of James, and servant of Jesus, The Messiah.
To those chosen and loved by God the Father through Jesus his Messiah: May mercy, peace and love be yours in plenty.
My dear friends, I wanted to write to you about the deliverance we share, but now I need to appeal to you to battle on and hold on to the faith God gave to his followers. There are people who have come among you who do not serve God encourage sinful ways and deny Jesus as their Lord.
I will remind you, although you know already, that after The Lord rescued his people from Egypt he later destroyed those who didn’t believe. Remember the angels who rebelled and are kept in darkness bound with everlasting chains until Judgement Day.
Consider also Sodom, Gomorrah and the nearby towns who having given themselves to sexual immorality and perversion were punished in the eternal fire.
Due to their dreams these people are defiling their bodies, rejecting God’s ways and insulting his angels. Yet even The Archangel Michael, when arguing with Satan about who would have the body of Moses did not insult him but simply said, ‘The Lord rebukes you!’ These people insult what they don’t understand yet they know by instinct, as all animals do, those things will destroy them. It will be their downfall for they followed Cain example, desiring wealth like Balaam, taken the same rebellious road as Korah. These people tarnish your communion, caring only for themselves, they are like rainless clouds blown along by the wind, like trees without their fruit and uprooted – twice dead. They are like wild waves on the sea with their shameful actions displayed like foam or like stars wandering in blackest darkness.
Enoch, the seventh descendant from Adam, prophesied this about them, ‘The Lord is coming with many thousands of angels and will judge all people, convicting all who have committed sin and spoken against him. These people complain and try to find fault, following their own evil desires, boasting about themselves and flatter others to their own advantage.
Remember my dear friends what Jesus’ apostles said, ‘In the last days there will be scoffers doing only what they want, causing division among you following they own natural instincts, for they haven’t God’s Spirit within them.
You my dear friends, grow in faith, pray in the Holy Spirit keeping yourselves in God’s Love waiting for our Lord Jesus to bring us all eternal lift.
Be compassionate to those who have doubts, save others by snatching them from the fire and to others show mercy, mixed with fear, hating even their clothes stained by their lust
To him who is able to keep you from faltering and present you faultless and joyfully in his glorious presence to The One God, be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forever! Amen.

Part 1 of 2 Talks
The last letter in the Bible was written by Jude the brother of James. James was probably the disciple James son of Alphaeus and therefore Jude could also be Thaddaeus the disciple who was also known as Jude. It seems unlikely that the brother would have been the James son of Zebedee along with his brother John, nor James the younger brother of Jesus but all three are possibilities.

The main aim for Jude was to warn the young developing church against immoral teaching and incorrect theology that was compromising their faith. Below is a talk I gave on Jude.

Talk
The only person we can wholly trust to be the head of our faith, is Jesus, all of us, need to emulate the one who is Our Lord and friend, to ensure we are directing our efforts in doing the things that pleases God. However our leaders need to be particularly aware of their responsibilities for Jesus tells us that teachers and leaders will be judged more harshly. Why? Because they are using Jesus’ name to influence people, so it is vital that the people who take on any leadership roles in the church do themselves follow the ways of Jesus and that they are given and they accept every support from those around them

Our leaders, are suppose to portray the true and actual whys of Jesus and in doing so help us decide what we do and how we think? Which in turn effects how those outside the church view God only when people are shown the truth can they follow the truth. Jude writes that even in the early churches things did go very badly wrong

The heart of Jude’s message is to make people aware that there is a right and a wrong way to live and when the wrong people have the wrong beliefs and get into leadership roles then it can mean disaster for everyone and particular so within a church. If we do have the right leadership we all need to encourage it, if not, then it is our responsibility to change it.

God has given us boundaries and we would all be better off if we don’t cross them, however people do say they know God’s ways when they don’t. When Christianity started to grow and became rich and powerful many wanted to jump on the bandwagon, academics wanted to change things and they twisted and corrupted Gods teaching to their own ends. We are so fortunate in have written down ‘God’s Word’ in the Bible for we can compare for ourselves what is said, to what it was Jesus taught, it’s why the old leaders of the church never wanted the Bible to be available to all for without it they could control our thinking and then our actions.

The prophets tell us, Jesus tells us and we can read it all in the Bible, the only way for personal spiritual contentment is to do the things that God wants us to do, that is to follow the ways and commands of God. If we are unsure what to do, then we can ask ourselves a simple question, would Jesus do it, if still not sure what to do then we can study the Bible because it is still the best life manual ever written, yet today it is not being taken seriously and more often ignored.

As a consequence people are failing to keep God’s commands, which in the long term makes themselves suffer and also the society they live in. Time and time again doing evil makes God angry and when taken to excess then it makes God want to wash his hands of us. A reality of love is in part judgement and following on from that comes either punishment or forgiveness. Whole societies have been punished, which includes his chosen people the Jews

God’s anger can be seen against man’s evil, particularly when a society becomes corrupt and some of these punishments can be read about in the Bible. The people in Noah’s time were destroyed when the flood came. Moses found a whole generation of Jews did not trust God as a consequence they weren’t allowed to enter the Promised Land. Then when Satan persuaded the Jews yet again to give up following God’s ways they suffered a 70 year exile, by being resettled in the Babylonian empire

Over and over again Satan turns people away from God and over and over again God sends warnings about what will happen. Jesus prophesied that he would be rejected, put to death and that Jerusalem would be destroyed. And 40 years after his crucifixion
The Romans destroyed it and the Jews went once again into exile this time for 70 generations

Some might say that punishment leads to belief by fear, but all punishment is as consequence of the actions we have taken, and shouldn’t become the purpose behind why we do or do not do things. We are taught by loving Jesus, we enter his family and are not punished as we are already forgiven for all the wrongs, the sins, the evil we do. Jesus forgives his followers everything, thus making us acceptable in Gods sight. Knowing we are forgiven and will not stand trail for our actions has turned some people into thinking that therefore we can do anything and this we will pick up later when we come onto the people Jude was writing to

Jude wrote his letter in a caldron of unrest, when Israel was in a physical, mental and spiritual mess around 65AD to 75AD and the church members would mostly have been converted Jews. So before we go into the detail of what Jude wrote we need to glimpse behind the curtain of history to see who he was and why he wrote it

We don’t know for certain which Jude wrote this letter, what gives us a clue is he says he is the brother of James. I was struck with the question, why should he put this as a heading to the letter? After all it’s to a group of Christians who knew him as a friends and who were part of the church.

So why start with Brother of James and then Dear friends? The answer may be in him having a popular name, as then, it has to be qualified. However writing to his friends, being servant to Jesus, the brother of James and having the name Jude would have narrowed it down to just one person.

I expect Jude wanted people to know he was writing with his brother’s James’ authority. He and James had been anointed by the Holy Spirit at the first Pentecost which makes this far more than just a personal letter to a group of friends. He saw that people in the church were not doing what Jesus had taught, people were trying to split the church, lead it in a different direction so Jude wrote that heading to give himself greater authority than the people he was about to opposed.

The date it was written doesn’t really matter, because what is written is more important than who wrote it or when it was written. Jude is stating in this letter the truth, the ways and thoughts of God. He was writing to those who had come to know God and had made Jesus their Lord, people who had had the Holy Spirit working within them eager to know, understand and put into practice the words and teachings of Jesus.

As background we should note that around this time Israel was in a physical, mental and spiritual mess, and in many respects so was this young and growing Christian Church. We can’t be certain but if tradition is right Jesus’ disciples had been decimated. Peter had been exiled and was in Rome, James had been beheaded by Herod, Andrew crucified in Asia Minor with James Son of Alphaeus his brother, in Egypt, Philip died a martyr at Hierapolis, Thomas in Madras and Matthew in Ethiopia, Nathaniel beaten to death in Armenia, and Judas hanged himself if Jerusalem. The only disciple still alive was John and he was either in prison, working the salt mines in Patmos or living in Ephesus. Paul missions had ended he had been taken to Rome.

So there was real leadership crisis in the Church and this was made worst by what was happening in the society all around them. The Jewish leadership were hostile towards those following Jesus’ teaching and after Nero made Christians an escape-goat for burning Rome the authorities started to arrest and persecuted them. The members were fleeing to various part of the empire. Some of the new converts wanted to assimilate their interpretations to this new faith taking the Church and the teaching in a different direction which meant the church leadership and the teachings were constantly being challenged.

The church had first to meet in people’s homes or hire out meeting halls, it wasn’t until 313 when it became official, that churches were allowed to be built. Jews persecute the Christians because they hated the idea of this Jewish offshoot that offered their special relationship with God to the gentiles. Made worst because Christians didn’t meet on the Jewish Sabbath but a day later on the Sunday, the day celebrating the day of the Resurrection. Their services were rather like today’s, Sang hymns, said prayers and taught Jesus’ teachings. As an aside up until about 800AD Christians stood to pray holding up their hands Just as we did earlier then studied the scripture and shared the memoirs of the apostles.

Let’s move on to the politics of the time for things were getting extremely bad. Israel was racked by internal strife, leadership had crumbled, Due also in part to the Romans it had become corrupt and evil and the people became so inflamed it culminated in the final Jewish revolt.

The two Roman Governors Albinus and Florus from 62 to 66 AD along with Pilate before them saw themselves as being above the law, increased Taxes, took bribes, looted treasuries and served only themselves. It was so bad Jews felt that independence from Rome was essential. At that time droughts and famines were causing major economic problem and once Herod’s Temple was completed there was massive unemployment. The ordinary Jew came to hate the Romans, Greeks, rich, politicians and priests. We know from Jesus’ life priests for example were taking the peoples offering for themselves so the people hoped God would intervene and make everything, as it should be.
Most Jews came to see the only way forward was war to create an free Jewish state. The trigger for the revolt was a Greek building that blocked in a synagogue in Caesarea and when Nero judged in favour of the Gentiles, Jewish tensions boiled over and the fighting started. Then Florus, the Roman governor attempted to take the Temple treasury the city mocked him and his soldiers tried in vain to break up the protest so he with many of the soldiers left for Caesarea.

This was the final impetus, no Roman leadership and limited troops in Jerusalem. It was then the uprising took place and the Rebellion succeeded in Jerusalem. From there it then swept across Judea, Galilee & Samaria, the Zealots burned the palace and perhaps more importantly the city archives where the debt, land and tax records were kept. Their intention was to eliminate all debts and so end the economic imbalance allowing land and wealth to be distributed fairly according to the Torah.

Agrippa’s army was defeated followed by the army led by Syria’s governor Gallus. Nero then sent Vespasian and over the next two years the revolt lost ground. In 69AD Nero died, Vespasian was made the Emperor he left his son Titus to complete the victory and in August 70AD Jerusalem fell and the Temple and the city were destroyed. The Jews had lost their homeland and if not killed they had to find somewhere else to live.

The Christians who went to Asia Minor now known as Turkey and Greece where Greek and Babylonian culture mixed they came across intellectuals who saw in Jesus the purity of God but didn’t accept that one so good could be human. These were Gnostics, they wanted to God to be absolutely pure and this meant that God could not be flesh as flesh was meant to be evil and knowing that all humans could not be pure like God they purported that as Jesus was the Son of God then he could not be really human.

In other words Jesus was a Powerful Spirit and he could fool people into thinking that he was flesh and blood. Their belief was, ‘the body was evil and had no connection with the soul’ it could do anything and would not be judged as it could not influence the Spirit, therefore it didn’t matter what the body did, just let it wallow in evil.

Gnosticism also incorporated secret knowledge and rites offering salvation only a few, all of which is very different from the open beliefs that Jesus taught. This was totally rejected by the Christian leaders and both Peter and Jude wrote very similar messages refuting their teaching. Jesus lived as a person and he still lives and it does matter what we do, since Jesus judges everyone.

Jude had to be true to God and to Jesus so he was prepared to speak out against sins and lies we all need to speak as we find, not turn a blind eye because it would upset people. Being popular with God often means being unpopular with the world.

Jude part 2 of 2 Talk

We’ve heard in the first part the reality of what leadership, power can do to people, the good news is in this second part which we will continue with. People have tried to change and re-interpret the words of Jesus but in having Jesus’ teaching written down the Lord has given us the opportunity to always know and understand God’s Word.

If your church were given a million pounds, told to use it wisely for good and for God and it then squandered the money, would not the giver have every right to be angry. It is the same with the gifts and skills we as humans have been given by God, we should not abuse them nor use them for doing evil, else God becomes angry and one simple definition of evil is, not doing what God wants.

The Jews had made the law more important than the spirit whereas the Gnostics, that we met in part one, purported that by restricting the knowledge of God to a few then only those who did know the ways of God could be chosen and so they made themselves into a secret society. They next step was getting people to ignore their own spirit, and deny therefore God and that is still very much about today, with so many being fooled by the me, myself and I culture all we have to do is listen to the so called humanist intellectuals

Jude wrote a simple message, ‘God’s ways are right, obeying them brings satisfaction and gives a purpose to living. Like Jude we need to speak out against going against God’s ways for the most worthwhile way of living is to live within the boundaries God has given us.

Our society is now full of those who mock God and his followers, they want others to follow their ungodly desires, mostly for their own profit but also maybe to decrease the guilt they feel. After all the more who agree then the more correct it must be. The letter of Jude was written to people who needed to be told right from wrong. When we’re not sure what to do then we can ask our leaders for help so we must make sure our leaders are fit to lead. Of course we still can ask Jesus what he would want us to do and listen for God’s Spirit to guides us.

Jude tells us people desiring influence over others saw as the church grew, a vehicle for greed and we see this as Kings and leaders became Christian for this led many corrupt people entering the church who had no real love of Jesus and did it for their own evil ends.

Some of the worst examples of this were seen from the Roman Catholic leaders for they taught that only they knew the truth that was found in the Bible, only they could understand and interpreted it, see again the pattern, a secret society, which means that when anyone wanted to read or study the Bible for themselves or question the teaching of the church, they were excommunicated or killed. Hence the inquisition, forcing people on pain of torture and death to believe what the church decides and in part that concept still goes on now with many other churches following the same pattern believe only what we say as we know best.

It seemed that those in authority want to keep the Status Quo, as it keeps them in power but living is not like that humans need to think, to challenge, to find they own way forward, able to change, to advance, it’s designed in our nature. We are to test the limits and to try different ways, and we can see this in how our children rebel. A loving parent will try to guides giving good advice trying to protect and help their offspring but also allow the freedom for them to become full free thinking adults. But all too often the next generation reject standards and want to do things in their own way, make their own mistakes, have different opinions, make they own successes.

Having seen my own children grow into adults I am convinced the advice I was given by the visiting nurse the day after my first-born came home was right. Children are adults on loan; they need to be given encouragement and help to take the responsibility in living, upon themselves. Parents, teachers and leaders may guide for a little, give them choices but each has to let go giving them the freedom God has designed everyone to have and we should all value freewill so highly we wouldn’t want it any other way

Today there are so many things to tempt us all, child and adult alike, in physical terms, living has never been easier but now young people have more to contend with than ever before and what makes it worst is our society tore up God’s book of morals. Why, well it’s because it allows evil to spread without being rebuked. Drinking and eating the wrong things to excess, smoking, drugs, gambling so many thing are bad for us but these things make profits for the few and greed is one of the roots of evil. Now everything goes providing the individual is either doing no harm to others or they have so much power they don’t have to care.

We have a situation where belief in the Spiritual or having a deep Christian faith has been reduced to a minority of religious diehards. Belief is tolerated, it being seen as rather old fashioned and quite unnecessary, and from what I understand when Charles becomes the next King of England and also the Protector of the Protestant faith, he will be saying there is no one true faith therefore Christianity has no real relevance in his country for to him it doesn’t matter what people believe, as all faiths are valid and therefor invalid.

The question we all have to face is, why do we do what we do? Without a static principled background then nothing is wrong so it is vital that God who provides that moral background supports our society. We know what happened when Israel’s leadership became corrupt for they were first crushed by various kings then the Babylonians and finally by the Roman Empire. That was prophesied by Jesus because they were about to rejected him and again ignore God’s ways. We know that it was God’s judgement on an evil society and evil societies will have to suffer eventually the consequences of going against God’s ways.

As a society develops it seems incapable of holding its leaders in check, power elevating them to a position where God and the ways of God are forgotten. Honesty, care, justice & freedom are replaced with tyranny, greed & abuse. We can even look back and see the power the church had was mis-used, so-much-so that it made people turn their backs on the church and what it stands for.

On a smaller scale the abuse of power can apply to everyone who wants they own way, none of us should over play the authority card. We shouldn’t isolate those who don’t do, want we think they should. Freedom and the ability to live and love together
has to override personal and often petty differences.

What Jude writes seems to go against what Moses writes in Leviticus for the Torah wants to exclude, punish and kill those who do evil. Jude wants to correct, forgive and welcome them back into the church even those who had brought in they own thinking, manipulating Jesus’ teaching, divided the membership by following their own natural instincts.

Jude acts with the authority of having been at Pentecost and lived with Jesus, he teaches that we must stay within the boundaries God sets, to build ourselves in faith, pray in the Holy Spirit, keep ourselves in God’s love, be merciful to those who doubt. Hate the sin but love and try to save the sinner. When Jude says, ‘show mercy mixed with fear’ He is saying, forgive and be wary how easy it is to fall into Satan’s traps of evil.
We don’t need to exclude anyone, but rather try to include all people
Simply lay out the standards given by God, NOT our own self made ones.
We know there are many who will reject God and his ways,
But within God’s family we need to join together helping one another
And that means speaking out when we see God’s ways not being carried out
Especially by our leaders and more so when it is our Christian Leaders
Jude tells us to not allow evil deeds to be carried out by those who have influence over us

Children like adults need to grow, develop, to use their skills and gifts.
Our Christian community needs to be surrounded by God Love
With elders who can use their authority and wisdom to settle any internal disputes.
Jude writes the same as John, Love one another, include, not exclude
Agree at times to differ, But agree at all times to love one another just as Jesus taught

Our Christian forefather may have left England with some wonderful legacies
Education for all, no slavery, homes, democracy, law and an acceptance of order,
But they are now so many traps within our society
And we need to measure them against God’s teaching, traps such as:
Loving ourselves more than we love God or our neighbours.
Not caring for the balance that is in nature, plundering the earths resources
Not looking after our own bodies, Smoking, drinking, over reliance on drugs.
Break up of family, acceptance of the sexual practices we were not designed for
Exorbitant profits and wages for business leaders
Whilst giving the minimum to their workers
Plus of course denying the existence of Satan and of evil.

Under the veneer of our Christian country lies a cancerous evil,
That unless we do something about it will destroy us all.
To convert people we need to show ourselves to be a loving Christian community,
Based upon caring for all, praying earnestly for the world & its people
Then we may not be the Noah or Lot escaping from God’s judgement in this society

God loves us and we need to return that love, making God proud of us
At the heart of love is caring, and as every parent and teacher knows
Punishment has to be used to show the boundaries of acceptable behaviour
We all need to be corrected from time to time
Helping us be active members of God’s kingdom, and making God proud of us

Acknowledging God, living under his ways, Standing up to the world
Telling people of the Spiritual relationship they can have with God
Bringing a purpose for living and a Freedom from the influences of the world
To live lives so that it pleases our creator, that why we need a good shepherd to follow
To worship and praise, to sing, and talk, listen I other words to be in God’s flock