Shabbat, September 9, 2017
The Lord is coming, soon, with myriads of kedoshim—and you want to be among them!—for He
is coming to execute judgment upon all. Therefore, now is the time to hold fast to the faith
and the Word, and to have mercy on those who are wavering, and snatch some from the fire.
V’eemru? (And let us say?)
You may want to turn in your Bibles to the letter of Jude—it’s near the end, right before Revelation. Today I will be finishing a study of Jude that I begin in July and continued in August. I’m reading from the Tree of Life Version, which calls him Judah instead of Jude.
In the Greek, it’s Ioudas. That’s why the disciple who betrayed Yeshua is known as Judas—because in Greek he’s Ioudas.
To avoid confusion with the infamous Judas, translators came up with Jude for the good apostle.
Beats me why the other translators didn’t use Judah. Probably Judah is too Jewish? Oy…
Verse 3: “Loved ones, though very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I felt it necessary to write to you urging you to continue to contend for the faith that was once for all handed down to the kedoshim [saints].”
Judah urges his readers (including us) to “contend for the faith”—the core truths that the apostles have handed down to us—because certain ungodly people were spreading false ideas about God & reality.
However esoteric and seductive such false teachings may seem, the apostolic faith reveals far deeper insights into spiritual realities. V’eemru? (And let us say?)
If Judah and the apostles believed that the faith was being distorted and perverted in their day, how much more so in ours? If they needed to contend for the true faith that Yeshua and the Holy Spirit revealed to them, how much more so should we, in our days of ever-increasing information (and misinformation) on the Web? V’eemru?
The Greek word for ‘contend’ means to exert oneself, to struggle. The lion roaring at us is relentless in his scheming to steal, kill & destroy. Together, we must earnestly contend, fight for the faith.
As the apostles did, we must persevere in the faith, and be strengthened in the faith.
Though we can be confident of our ultimate victory in Messiah Yeshua, in this world and in this life, we must fight the good fight for the faith. V’eemru?
Judah doesn’t spell out what he means by the faith—don’t you know?—but gives a hint in verse 4:
“For certain people have secretly slipped in—those who from long ago have been marked out for this judgment. Ungodly people, they pervert the grace of our God into indecent sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Yeshua the Messiah.”
In the 1st century, upholders of the faith had to contend with theologies based on Greek philosophy— such as Epicureanism (pleasure as the highest good) & Gnosticism (pursuit of secret knowledge).
Pursuit of pleasure led people into “indecent sensuality”—violating Biblical standards of morality.
Pursuit of esoteric knowledge led people into false ideas about Yeshua & supernatural realities.
Some things haven’t changed in 2000 years….
In the 21st century, moreover, upholders of the faith must also contend with secularism and postmodernism—ways of thinking that deny the Word means what it says, or that Biblical standards are relevant, or that what the Bible teaches about supernatural reality is true. So we must contend for the faith in Biblical truth and in “our only Master and Lord, Yeshua the Messiah.” V’eemru?
In August, I covered the middle of Judah’s letter, which deals with supernatural beings. If Gnostics claimed esoteric knowledge, in verse 6, Judah responds with knowledge of angels who rebelled against the Most High, lost their position of authority and wound up in shackles! So there!
In v. 9, he’s got Michael the archangel disputing the devil. Rather than rendering a judgment for slander him, he said, “The Lord rebuke you!” Diabolos means slanderer, and Mikha-el means “Who is like G-D?”
Then in v. 8, Judah says, “these people, by their dreaming, defile the flesh, reject the Lord’s authority, and defame glorious beings.” These dreamers are out of touch with true spiritual reality. Pursuing their Epicurean pleasures, they defile the flesh; seeking esoteric knowledge (gnosis), they reject the Lord’s authority. For Jude, authority is ultimately supernatural, since all authority is from Adonai and the Lord Yeshua—who is seated on the throne in glory. V’eemru?
In their ignorance, these worldly dreamers even defame glorious beings—who are they? Michael Heiser, in The Unseen Realm, explains that this term refers to divine beings [angels] of the divine council close to God’s glorious presence. The glorious ones appear in 2 Enoch 22:7:
“Let Enoch stand before my face into eternity, and the glorious ones bowed down to the Lord.”
If these glorious beings appear in the heavenly council, how dare dreamers defame them? (Nowadays, dreamers deny they even exist. Yet there is more to reality than people dream of…)
Genesis 5:24 says, “Enoch continually walked with God—then he was not, for God took him.”
This mysterious, holy figure is a subject of 2nd Temple writings. Though it’s not inspired Scripture, Judah does quote 1st Enoch in vv. 14-15:
“It was also about these people that Enoch, the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with myriads of His kedoshim, to execute judgment against all. He will convict all the ungodly for all their ungodly deeds that they have done in an ungodly way, and for all of the harsh things ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”
1 Enoch says that Enoch saw a “vision of the Holy One in the heavens, which the angels showed me, and from them I heard everything.” In this vision, “the Holy Great One will come forth from His dwelling, and the eternal God will tread upon the earth,” shaking the mountains. Judgment will be upon all men, so that all will fear. Yet His mercy will be upon the righteous—who belong to God.
Jude and the apostles recognized this image of the coming Holy One coming in judgment as a glimpse of none other than Messiah Yeshua as the glorious returning King—and Judge of all men.
This image of the Holy One coming with judgment or mercy is apropos the season, is it not?
For soon it will be Yom Teruah, the Day of blowing shofars, heralding the coming of the King and Judge who will determine who will be written in the Book of Life, and who will not.
As it is written in Joel 2:1, “Blow the shofar in Zion, for the Day of the Lord is near!
It is an awesome day, the beginning of the 10 days of awe, culminating in Yom Kippur—when
the Holy One will determine who has will be sealed in the Book of Life.
Who will be sealed in the Lamb’s book of life? Those who trust in the Lamb’s atoning blood.
V’eemru? During these days of awe, isn’t it time to let others know, snatching some from the fire?
Verse 19: “’In the last time there will be scoffers, following after their own ungodly desires.’ These are the ones who cause divisions—worldly-minded, not having the Ruach.”
Are any of you aware of scoffers and mockers of God, or His word, or those who in trust in Him? Well, Yeshua and His apostles have forewarned us. What would a worldly-minded person think about this? What do you think?
Verse 20 tells us what to do in these last days. “But you, loved ones, continue building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Ruach ha-Kodesh.” The “most holy faith” that the apostles handed down to us is not subjective feeling, but objective truth revealed in the Scriptures that the prophets & apostles received & passed down to us. So, to build yourselves up in your most holy faith, you must study & meditate on His word.
Yet for those who read the Bible with a worldly mind, it is death and condemnation—for as 2 Corinthians 3:6 says, “The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”
That’s why Judah also says, “Keep praying in the Spirit.” Before reading, humbly pray that the Ruach will cause His word to come alive in your heart, prompting you to notice what He is saying.
I’d like to suggest practical ways to build yourselves up in the faith that I teach disciples. One is called SOAP, which is an acronym to help you remember four steps of Scripture study.
S is for Scripture. Start by praying that God would show you a specific verse to meditate on. Then start reading the Bible, maybe a chapter or two, expecting the Ruach to point out a verse—one that draws your attention or makes you wonder. Write that verse down. Even as you write it down, you are meditating a bit more on that verse.
I give an example of one I wrote down from Jeremiah 50.
O is for Observation. Observe what the verse means in context. Look 3 verses up & 3 verses down. What did that verse mean to the author who wrote it and to the audience who first heard it? Sometimes context is further than 3 verses—check out footnotes for cross-references. Write down your observations. Writing things down can help you hear God’s Spirit more clearly.
Looking at context, I observed that the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed Jerusalem, yet the prophet holds the shepherds (the worldly leaders) of Israel responsible for the calamity—for they didn’t tell the people to heed the prophetic warnings.
A is for Application. How can you apply what the verse means in your own life, today? The Ruach gave me conviction about my double responsibility as a teacher of the Word.
P is for Prayer. Pray out what you have observed and have resolved to apply from the verse. Write out the prayer. Finally, give your meditation a title, something to remember it by, later.
The SOAP method can take 15-20 minutes and can produce much fruit. How many of you will try it?
Another way to pray in the Spirit is to pray in tongues. As 1 Corinthians 14, “one in speaks in a tongue builds himself up,” spiritually. By praying in tongues, I yield my body and my mind to God’s Spirit. So I find it helpful in order to activate other gifts of the Spirit such as healing and prophecy. How many of you agree? If any of you desire the gift of tongues or other spiritual gifts, you can ask the healing ministry, which meets immediately in the back immediately service, to pray for you.
Jude 21. “Keep yourselves in the love of God, eagerly waiting for the mercy of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah that leads to eternal life.” The faith of Judah and the other apostles teaches us to wait for our Lord Yeshua, eagerly. Yet sometimes we wonder, Lord, how long will we wait for you? How many of you can relate? Especially when you’ve been waiting a while for the Lord to answer a prayer that you’re sure He has put in our heart. Yet Judah says something important about waiting for Yeshua… we’re waiting for His mercy… not His judgment. Hallelujah! And you know… His mercy has already come… and His mercy endures forever. V’eemru?
Jude 22. “Have mercy on those who are wavering…”
While we are waiting for the mercy of the Lord Yeshua, let us have mercy on others, who may be wavering, or even doubting. V’eemru? Our attitude towards others should be like Yeshua Himself, who has been waiting for 2,000 years for the Father to tell Him: It’s time! You can go back now….
Yet all the while, Yeshua is showing mercy to all who call upon His Name. For it is His desire that none should perish, but all come to repentance… before it is too late. V’eemru?
Jude 22-23. “Have mercy on those who are wavering— save them by snatching them out of the fire…” What a powerful image, “snatching them out of the fire”! Yet it’s not just a metaphor, is it? Yeshua warned, over and over again: after judgment, there is a fire.
The image is found twice in the Tanakh, once in Amos 4:11, “I overthrew some of you as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. You became like a firebrand snatched from a blaze—yet you have not returned to Me,” declares Adonai. Though HaShem would have snatched them like a brand from of fire, Israel refused to return from their idolatry, so HaShem overthrew them—just as He had overthrown Sodom and Gomorrah when they refused to repent, right up to their downfall.
The 2nd reference is Zechariah 3:1-2, “Then he showed me Joshua the kohen gadol standing before the angel of Adonai and the satan, standing at his right hand to accuse him. Adonai said to the satan, Adonai rebukes you, satan. Indeed Adonai, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebukes you. Is not this man a brand plucked out of the fire?’” The Hebrew satan, like Greek diabolos, means accuser, slanderer.
Because the High Priest was wearing a filthy robe, representing the filth of the sins of Israel, hasatan (the accuser) figured he could tear him down. That’s what hasatan does to many people, slam them with all kinds of accusations—it may sound like the accusations are coming from other people or even from within your own thoughts, but accusations are a specialty of hasatan.
In just such a moment, people need to hear about God’s love and receive Yeshua’s mercy. So the angel of the LORD rebukes hasatan. Thus HaShem demonstrates His unilateral mercy, to save this man, snatching him like a brank out the fire. This time, the man—Joshua—does return to HaShem, receiving a new priestly robe and turban,
so that he can resume his priestly ministry. Now that’s more like it!
Returning to Jude 23, the merciful One wants us to show mercy and snatch others from the fire. Though you and I cannot save anyone from the fires of hell—only Yeshua can do that—we can offer a hand, and we can share a word of mercy. V’eemru?
So will we do it? When JB Bernstein was here, many of us came forward and said, “Hineni! Send me.” This week, the elders all agreed that Yeshua still wants to send us. So we resolved to invite you all to join us, as each of us will offer a time when we can pray & go out. Nydia is excited and wants to go out! Because some of you would rather go out during the day, I will be going out on Monday at 11am. If you can join us, come to my house, 3131 W Chew St. I plan to go out on Monday every other week. The other elders will announce their times soon….
Finally, we reach the end of Judah’s letter, which is a doxology—a liturgical hymn of praise to God.
As you may have noticed, Jewish prayer often involves liturgical hymns. So it should be no surprise that Judah and the other apostles (all Jews) would offer up these ancient hymns, which scholars believe were hymns of the 1st century Messianic Jewish movement. In a moment, we’ll close our service with a New Covenant Aleinu that Dan Juster and I put together. When Judah’s hymn begins with “the One who is able to keep you from stumbling,” that should be especially reassuring—at the end of a letter warning us about the danger of deception and doubting.
In the end, HaShem Himself will keep you from stumbling and Messiah Yeshua will present you before the Father in glory. Hallelujah! Because of His great mercy, we can look forward to the blast of the shofar and the coming of the King & Judge, not with great hope and great joy. V’eemru?
This sermon and questions may not to be reprinted in whole or in part without the express written consent of Messianic Rabbi Glenn D. Blank of Beit Simcha. Your generous support for our ministry and building project is appreciated!
Scripture references are mostly from The Tree of Life Version (TLV) though occasionally other versions. Verse citations provide Jewish numbering, with Christian numbering in parentheses.