Beware

As we continue our examination of the people, Jude has placed in his crosshairs, the false teachers. Examine Their Content (12-13) False teachers and preachers are spots in our charity says Jude 12~These are hidden reefs (σπιλάς spilas) at your love feasts…(ESV). The word (σπιλάς spilas) spots is a nautical term for hidden reefs, rocks that on the tidal change can catch us and puncture our ships of life. Jude says that these false propagators of the gospel are like the reefs of rock in the sea. Hidden, only peeking over the surface to puncture and sink unsuspected sailors. Their hope is for shipwrecks so they may plunder the lives of others. Jude 12~These are…waterless clouds, swept along by winds…(ESV).

False teachers are also like clouds, without water. The Smithsonian says the water that makes up clouds is in liquid or ice form. Even the air around us is partially made up of invisible water vapor, called humidity. It’s only when that water vapor cools and condenses into liquid water droplets or solid ice crystals that visible clouds form. Thus, Jude is saying that they do not have what they are promising. Clouds bring the promise of rain and are always a wonderful sight in dry climates like the Holy Land. However, false teachers are like clouds without rain; they profess to bring answers and hope, but in reality, they are empty with nothing to offer. 

They are charlatans, not because they live north of here. Listen to how they are described in Proverbs 25:14~Like clouds and wind without rain is one who boasts of gifts never given. (NIV) Jude also describes false teachers as being like trees Jude 12~These are…fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; (ESV) Trees usually produce their fruit in the fall. False teachers are like fruit trees, they bloomed, they have wonderful foliage, but produce no fruit. False teachers are twice dead because not only are they fruitless, but like fruitless trees, they will be uprooted and burned.

False teachers are also like raging waves Jude 13~wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever. (ESV). Have you ever seen polluted water and the scum it leaves on the shore? False teachers produce the scum of their shame. In studying this, Jude might have gotten his illustration from Isaiah 57:20~“But those who still reject me are like the restless sea, which is never still but continually churns up mud and dirt. (NLT) False teachers are always foaming out their own shame, stirring up the bottom, in the form of selfishness, greed, deceit, and immorality. 

They are also described as wandering stars. Jude 13~…wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever. (ESV) In Jude’s day, fixed stars were used for navigation, both on land and sea. False teachers are like wandering or shooting, stars that offer no guidance or helpful directions. Putting trust in something that moves as a reference for guiding our journey will put us off course. Where we will typically wind up on the rocks of life. Jude is reminding us that our true direction comes from the unmoving, unchanging, unwavering God of heaven. And our anchor is held by our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. He alone is the one who can save us. Those for are false teachers have a reservation that we do not want. Jude 13~…wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever. (ESV) Prophets for profit have reservations for the worst places in hell forever. Today would be a good day to pray for those who spitefully use us. Ask God to turn their hearts towards Him.



Don’t be fooled

Today, we consider two more examples that Jude shares with us as a means of helping fellow believers avoid deception by unmasking two types of prophets for profit. Example #2: Balaam. False teachers and preachers run greedily after the error of Balaam for reward. Jude 11~Woe to them! For they walked …and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error…(ESV) Now Balaam is the only person in the Bible whom God rebukes through a donkey in Numbers 22:21-31. The story reveals how Balaam was a spiritual mercenary hired by a pagan king, Balak. Who hired him to curse the Israelites. Listen to how his sin is described in Revelation 2:14~Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. (NIV) There are still many today who act as spiritual mercenaries who, because they love money, lead people into idolatry—teaching them to worship the idols of wealth and health. 

Example #3: Korah’s rebellion. Korah led a revolt against Ole Mo and Aaron’s authority as recorded in Numbers 16. By rebelling against God’s divinely appointed leaders, Korah and his 250 followers were actually rebelling against God. Therefore, Ole Mo tells the Israelites God will give a sign that Korah and his followers have provoked the LORD. Numbers 16:30~But if the Lord creates something new, and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into Sheol, then you shall know that these men have despised the Lord. (ESV) As soon as Ole Mo stops speaking, Numbers 16:31b-32~…the ground under them split apart. And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the people who belonged to Korah and all their goods. (ESV) 

Like Korah, false teachers set themselves up against spiritual leaders who faithfully proclamate the Bible and condemn false teachers. These three examples describe false teachers of all generations. Like Cain, they are without love. Like Balaam, they are greedy for money. Like Korah, they belittle and attack those who truly preach the Gospel. That is why we take time to learn. So that we will not be Deceived by individuals who seek their own rather than the Lord. Why not take time to pray for our nation, it’s leaders and those who can make a difference in our communities.



Deceived

Authentic, it has been our goal from the outset of becoming a believer in Jesus Christ. Authentic—Bonafide, genuine, the real McCoy. As we continue in our passage, Jude continues to warn us about false teachers. If we desire to be Authentic in our faith, then we’re going to be required to know how to unmask prophets for profit. Growing up , there was a large consortium of yentas, who loved to tell people the Lord’s will for their lives. I believe they were well-meaning, yet, they caused a lot of fuss as they often would stir-up discord by involving themselves. Perhaps you had a yenta or three in your adolescence.

Yenta, by definition, is a gossip or busybody, and when we mix in one who says the Lord said we arrive at an individual with the potential to become a false prophet. In our pericope, Jude gives us four ways to help do this. So today, we put on our white lab coats, our inspector’s hats, and protective eyewear and begin rounds looking at Deceived—Unmasking Prophets for Profit. We begin by examining.

Examine Their Company (Jude 11). In 1545, William Turner published his papist satire The Rescuing of Romish Fox. Humor, irony, and exaggeration abound as Turner jabs at the papacy. We would be well reminded that the Church of England is a mere eleven years old and there is much jousting in the fledgling faith pushing its place. Into this hotbed of written expression in Turner’s day rises words on winged flight. A proverb propelled forward from the mid 16th century, into our modern vernacular. “Byrdes of on kynde and color flok and flye allwayes together.” ~William Turner~ There is a lot of truth in the old saying: Birds of a feather flock together. Jude, in kind, uses three Old Testament characters to identify false teachers. 

Example #1: Cain. Jude 11~Woe (οὐαί ouai) to them! For they walked in the way of Cain (ESV). The word (οὐαί ouai) woe is an exclamation of denunciation and impending doom In modern Yiddish it is Oy Vey an exclamation of grief. Isaiah 5:8-9~Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field till no space is left and you live alone in the land. The LORD Almighty has declared in my hearing: Surely the great houses will become desolate, the fine mansions left without occupants (NIV). As believers and faith practitioners, we are to be the heralds of Christ. Our great commission is to go, make, share, and baptize believers. Listen as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 9:16~For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! (NIV) Are you compelled to share? Does the word of God rise up within you and just bubble out from deep within?  In Matthew 23, our Lord shares a sermon on the seven Woes as He blisters the Pharisees, calling them hypocrites and blind guides. Jude applies Oy Vey, (οὐαί ouai) Woe to Cain. Understand that Cain, the firstborn child of Adam and Eve, is the first person in the Bible who chooses to reject God’s way of worship. As a result of rejecting God’s way, jealousy ensues, as Cain will murder the innocent, his own brother Abel. 

1 John 3:12~Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. (NIV) If we are not God’s, then we belong to Satan. Choose life in Jesus, for it is the way of eternity, love, righteousness and it is there for the knocking, asking for our sins to be expunged, and our receiving every good thing in Christ. Grasp that Cain was religious, he came to God with a sacrifice, but his desire was to practice faith on his own terms. He wanted to worship God in his own way. Just as Cain murdered his brother, Jude is sharing that false teachers murder people’s souls with their deceit. False teachers don’t care about their followers; they just want to worship God their own way—and often times to get money.