11 Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.
12 These people are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. 13 They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.
What is the way of Cain? There are traditions outside of the Bible that Jude is probably referring to. However, Cain, Balaam and Korah all were hung up on themselves. Cain was petulant because God did not look on his offering as equal with his brother’s. Abel offered the first-fruits to God. This does not only include what came first, but it includes what was first in quality. Cain seems to have given his offering with indifference and duty. He was not focused with lavishing love on another, but he wanted to look after himself. Balaam was hired to prophesy against Israel. His donkey tried to stop him and God warned him not to do something so foolish as to prophesy against those set apart by God. However, he persisted in trying to prophesy against Israel but was unable to. For profit he insighted the King of Moab to send his women to sexually lead the men of Israel astray. The end was disastrous for Israel and Moab who both suffered at the hands of God. Korah turned people against Moses but the motives are somewhat unclear. It seems that they wanted Moses to share his power with them, but he did not. In summary, then, false teachers are seeking glory, praise, wealth, and power. We have to gauge ourselves to see if that is our motive.
No wonder, then, that these leaders are ruining the church. They feed their own appetites by devouring the very flock that they claim to serve. Theough they should be bringing life to the churches and its congregants, they are sucking the life out of the church. Instead of being creative and bringing life, they are the anti-creation of the primordial seas of chaos. They destroy. We see, too, allusion to the spiritual nature behind the teachers’ physical presence. Like fallen angels, they will be consumed with darkness.
Listen to Wandering Stars and read the lyrics below the song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEQNAZGoZrw
I find it interesting that Jude writes that they have “been destroyed” in Korah’s Rebellion. I wonder what sort of significance this bears on the narrative of scripture. Perhaps Christ’s death and Resurrection has condemned the unrepentant false teachers in the same way that God consumed the Rebellious in the wilderness. What connections exist between the OT narrative and false teachers in the NT times and now.
Such “leaders” who feed off of the members of Christ are like parasites who live on the life of others. There is simply no room for this in the body of Christ. This is a somber warning for those who seek to infiltrate the church for their own good and a charge to be on the watch for such people, especially as a church leader.
This passage definitely emphasizes the seriousness of the problem about false teachers in the churches. The part that stands out the most to me is, “shepherds who feed only themselves” and it hurts to think about who this would apply to in the church today. Then I have to realize that everyone at Moody, including myself, needs to be aware and guard oneself from this evil path. When you said “false teachers are seeking glory, praise, wealth, and power. We have to gauge ourselves to see if that is our motive,” I automatically questioned myself and asked God to reveal any part of me that is going in this direction. May this would never be me, or any of us… by God’s grace.
This sure is a frightening passage. It is so similar to 2nd Peter 2; my ESV Study Bible says Jude may have been a source for 2nd Peter.
“Serving only themselves” leads to “darkness forever.” These evil men, false teachers who have sneaked in among God’s people, wolves in sheep’s clothing have been the “hot topic” from verse four and on in this short letter. God hates selfishness. It’s so contrary to His being. Our purpose in life is to conform to Him- not very flattering in a “be yourself, exalt yourself” world. God shows how serious He is about love when He punishes forever those who refused to love. He hates deceit. He hates greed. I got to say it is very humbling and amazing when one considers God’s blazing, holy hatred toward sin and then His great mercy because…I sometimes am quite greedy and do not love and am deceitful and in my heart desire “to be king.” God’s mercy and grace to us is immense. May we remember this on the worst of days.
One of the interesting comparisons which Jude makes is likening these false teachers to waterless clouds. Like clouds, they look right and promise to bring life. Fruit trees promise to bring forth fruit. They may look right but if they produce no fruit they are false. These men described here are barren of good works. They are wandering stars which do not direct people nor serve as any function normative to stars. I really like all of Jude’s analogies and historical examples–it helps bring out the idea. Looking at his use of history and nature and comparing what their usage tells us is also interesting. The self-glorifying nature of the examples results in no real fruit, a false promise, a false guide.