Although you are fully aware of this, I want to remind you that after Jesus had delivered His people out of the land of Egypt, He destroyed those who did not believe.
I. THE NECESSITY OF REMINDING SAINTS OF FAMILIAR SCRIPTURE FACTS. "Now I desire to put you in remembrance, though ye know all things once for all, how that the Lord, having saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterwards destroyed them that believed not."
1. Every private Christian ought to be well acquainted with the Scriptures. Jude concedes that those he addressed were so. The Bible is a book for the people as well as for ministers. Knowledge is highly commendable in a Christian (Romans 15:14), as well as goodness.
2. The best of people need to have their pure minds stirred up by way of remembrance; for memory is too often "like the sieve which holds the bran and lets the flour go."
II. THE SAINTS REMINDED OF A FAMOUS DELIVERANCE. "I removed his shoulder from the burden, and his hands were delivered from the pots" (Psalm 81:6).
1. No difficulties could hinder Israel's deliverance from Egypt.
2. Israel went down to Egypt a family, and emerged out of it a nation.
3. This nation curried the destinies of the world in its bosom.
III. THE SAINTS REMINDED OF A GREAT DESTRUCTION. The Lord dealt first in mercy, then afterward in judgment.
1. Destruction overtook the Israelites from plague, fire, serpents, earthquake, sword. The wilderness was strewn besides with the carcasses of all except those of twenty years old and under, who alone were privileged to enter the land of Canaan.
2. This destruction was a disappointment of high hopes as well as a fall from a high position of privilege.
3. Yet it was but partial. The stock of Israel was spared. And the doom was long deferred, so as to give more than a generation of time for repentance.
4. The Lord's judgment in this case proves that punishment cannot be averted by privileges abused.
IV. THE SAINTS REMINDED OF THE CAUSE OF THIS DESTRUCTION. It was unbelief. "They could not enter in because of unbelief" (Hebrews 4:6).
1. Difficulties soon discover the untrustful heart.
2. Unbelievers forsake their own mercies, and are their own worst enemies.
3. There is no folly like unbelief. "Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."
4. The end of unbelief is utter and absolute destructions. - T.C.
I will therefore put you in remembrance.1. Great is the sin of those who despise repeated truths. A Christian must not have an itching, but a humble and obedient ear. Every truth, like a lease, brings in revenue the next year as well as this.
2. Christians must not only receive, but retain also the truths of God. Our memories must be heavenly storehouses and treasuries of precious truths; not like hour-glasses, which are no sooner full but they are running out. To help us in remembering heavenly truths, let us —(1) Be reverent and heedful in our attentions, as receiving a message from God.(2) Love every heavenly truth as our treasure; delight helps memory (Psalm 119:16), and what we love we keep.(3) Our memories should not be taken up with vanities. The memory which is filled only with earthly concerns, is like a golden cabinet filled with dung.(4) Let instruction be followed with meditation, prayer, conference, and holy conversation; by all these it is hid in the heart the deeper, and driven home more thoroughly (Deuteronomy 6:6, 7; Psalm 119:97).
3. There is a constant necessity of a conscientious ministry. People know and remember but in part, and till that which is imperfect be done away we cannot spare ministerial remembrances.
4. The forgetfulness of the people must not discourage the minister. A boat is not to be cast up and broken in pieces for every leak.
5. The work of ministers is not to contrive doctrines, but to recall them.
(W. Jenkyn, M. A.)
Afterward destroyed them that believed notPsalm 78:40): — Of the Church of God in the world, it is true, as of the world itself, that, with much that may be called variety, there is substantial sameness, in all ages, in its condition. In all ages believers have enjoyed the same privileges. Their trials and dangers have also been similar as to their effects; bearing, at one time, on the growth of their knowledge and their faith; and, at another, on the open profession of their attachment to Jesus. When we thus look on the condition of the Church, in one aspect, as being as unchanged by the lapse of time, and yet, in another, as partaking of all the mutability of man and of the world, we are prepared to find that, with circumstances of unfailing security in its condition, it is, nevertheless, not entirely beyond the reach of danger and loss. The Church, and every member of it, true to Christ the Head, is encompassed with God's favour as with a shield. But unbelief detaches the hold from the Rock of Ages — from an unchangeable Saviour and His unchanging word. In consequence, so far as unbelief prevails in individuals or in Churches, they are exposed to wander, they cannot but fall into sin, and ultimately into ruin.
I. Let us endeavour TO APPREHEND THE SPIRIT OF OUR TEXT, AND THE CONVICTIONS PRESENT TO THE APOSTLE'S MIND, WHEN HE OCCUPIED THE POINT OF STANDING FROM WHICH HE CONTEMPLATES THE VISIBLE CHURCH. Several things are presupposed in the language of our text. In the salvation of man, memory has its province as well as faith. Knowledge, like the light, must enter the soul, and remove its darkness. But if knowledge be of a vague and indefinite nature, it has no hold on the convictions and no power on the heart. And yet truth, once well known, may fade from the view, and become, although not entirely forgotten, yet practically inoperative in the life. Faded impressions, then, need to be revived, and forgotten truths recalled, so as to be ever present, as a light from heaven, shining on the soul and path of the man, and guiding him in all his purposes and acts, in a world of darkness and sin. The light of God's truth, pre-eminently so called, is the revelation, not of the purity of His law and nature, nor of the unity of His Godhead and the supremacy of His government, but of the reality and fulness of His grace. It is implied, however, in our text, that, notwithstanding all this manifold grace of God, one and another, and many, may ultimately perish, and "that we may receive the grace of God in vain." How many who profess to receive it obviously show that they have never intellectually apprehended its nature, nor felt its influence at all? A sense of grace received has never expanded their hearts in generous love, either to God or man. But our text not only implies the possibility of all this, but assumes it as a fact that grace may be abused to lasciviousness (ver. 4); so that those who have externally received grace, may become eminently more godless and wicked than if they had never known of its existence. But what Christian can say that he never needs the exhortation of the apostle, "to fear lest a promise being left him of entering into rest, he may come short of it through unbelief"?
II. LET US CONSIDER THE FACT TO WHICH THE APOSTLE SPECIALLY DIRECTS OUR ATTENTION, viewing the sin in the light of the description of it which the Psalmist gives. "How oft did they provoke Him in the wilderness and grieve Him in the desert! "And often did the Lord destroy some of them. But we shall confine our remarks to that one occasion on which the Lord sware that they should not enter into His rest (Numbers 14:12).
1. In order that we may receive the full benefit to be derived from this alarming example, let us notice the stage in their history when they so grievously sinned against God by unbelief. We find that, in a period of little more than a year, the Lord had brought them from out of the house of bondage in Egypt, through the perils of the wilderness, to the very confines of the land of promise. It would be easy to trace, at least, ten instances of provocation; but it is enough to remark, as displaying the grace and forbearance of God with his stiff-necked people, that in almost every march, or at every stage throughout their journey, they tempted God. God had visited them with marks of His anger, but He still carries them forward, continues to be their God and guide, and the promised land now stretches out to their view. His miracles, which they saw in Egypt and in the wilderness, afforded every confirmation that God was able to fulfil His word; and they had no cause to fear or to be discouraged whatever obstacles might arise. We, like them, are called by God to take possession of blessings guaranteed by the oath of God to Abraham's spiritual seed. The kingdom of Christ, with all its blessings, is brought near to us, affording a rest to the weary and heavy laden traveller of the world. Wherever the gospel comes, every man is called to go up and possess. But this kingdom and its subjects have enemies, — the devil, the world, and the flesh; those who go up to possess the kingdom of God, must engage in conflict with these enemies, and only expect perfect rest in the degree to which the destruction of these enemies is accomplished. The one unrecalled command standing from age to age is, Go into all the world and preach the gospel. Sinners! go up and possess; fear not, neither be discouraged; behold the Lord hath set the land before you.
2. Let us next consider how the people treated this command of God. Did they at once obey God's command? No. Did they positively refuse? Their disobedience did not manifest itself in that manner at first. Moses tells us that the people "came near to him and said, We will send men before us, and they shall search out the land by what way we must go up, and to what cities we shall come" (Deuteronomy 1:22). Some of you may say, Could anything be more reasonable? But you must observe the peculiar circumstances in which the children of Israel were placed. They had the unequivocal command of God to go up. This first hesitation, therefore, to go up, this prudent expedient, was in itself no small sin, and evinced the operation of the evil heart of unbelief. It formed part of the turning back and limiting of the Holy One of Israel of which the Psalmist speaks. But is this conduct of the children of Israel without its parallel among us, in our treatment of the call and the commands of the gospel? Are there no expedients to which we have recourse, by which to modify the authority and uncompromising severity of the Word of God; and by which we are actually, from fear and unbelief, regulating our steps by an ungodly prudence?
3. Let us observe how God deals with those who, by unbelief, had shrunk from the course to which He had called them. Did God instantly visit their transgression with judgment? So far from this, He bore with their abject timidity and dishonouring distrust. He permitted Moses to approve of the proposal of the people to send spies. Accordingly, the twelve "rulers" go forth to explore the land, and find that it surpasses their most sanguine expectations. "Nevertheless," said the spies, "the people be strong, the cities walled, and very great; moreover we saw the children of Anak there."The disheartening effect of this intelligence on the hearts of the people was such that, when commanded to go up, they refused to obey. Persisting in their unbelief of this oath-secured presence of God, the anger of the Lord burned against them. This sin crowned all the past, and was aggravated by every possible enhancement of guilt. It was a rejection of God's guidance, and a limitation of God's grace and power. He swears in His wrath that He would destroy "all from twenty years old and upward which have murmured against Me; and your little ones which ye said should be a prey, them I will bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised." Thus it was, that those whom God saved out of Egypt He destroyed in the wilderness. Hence we learn that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God — the Holy One of Israel. In all ages there are some who do not, and who cannot, enter in, because of unbelief. Are any of us of that class?
1. The first lesson which we learn from the admonition of our text is, that it is with the very same God who destroyed unbelieving Israel that we have to do. The greater or less fulness of revelation which God gives of Himself does not affect His nature any more than the obscurity or brightness of a day affects the brightness or nature of the sun.
2. Mark the grace of God as exhibited at the period when He destroyed them who believed not. He permitted the spies to be sent. He bore with the pusillanimity and unbelief of the people; and so He always does in no small degree. But God, although He thus graciously tolerate much unbelief, does not prosper His people in the expedients which they adopt under its influence.
3. You learn from the fact to which our attention has been turned, that faith is not of efficacy, by any arbitrary appointment of God. As the captain who would lead an army to victory must possess their confidence, and as every teacher, who shall be able to educate his disciples, must possess their respect for his ability to instruct — so must the God and Captain of our Salvation possess the unfeigned and unwavering faith of His people.
4. We learn also that unbelief is not a trivial but most heinous sin. It operates at the seat of spiritual life in the heart within — it is only suspicion, doubt, questioning, shrinking, and simple inaction. But as the word, the promise, and the command come from God, it treats the Holy One of Israel with as much contumely and distrust as God lays to the charge of Israel, when they turned back, tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.
5. But this passage of Jewish history admits of application to the conduct of communities as well as of individuals. There is ground for apprehension, that the doctrine of God's decrees, instead of forming a source of comfort and strength in arduous duties, is often abused as an apology for inaction, and operates as a sedative on the moral sensibilities and aspirations of the heart, Now, looking at this passage in the history of the Israelites, we find it was God's will, and could have been compatible with God's purposes, that they should have entered into possession of Canaan forty years before the time that the land became theirs.
6. Let sinners, therefore, see that they are, under the gospel, saved to the extent that the children of Israel were, when delivered out of Egypt, and brought to the verge of the promised land. Immanuel's kingdom stretches out before them, in the promises and privileges of the gospel, and God's command to them is, "Go up and possess the land." And if any have been so far awakened by God's Spirit as to understand, in some measure, the better things which God has provided, but are yet halting between two opinions, or turning away sorrowful, from the requirement to yield themselves unreservedly to Christ's revealed will and authority, let them know, that, in thus shrinking through unbelief, and returning to the world, they cannot engage in the pleasures and pursuits of the world as they did before, at least for a time. They will experience a misery which may fitly be represented by being driven into the wilderness to wander and drag out a dreary life, as if with God's oath sounding in their ears, that they shall not enter into His rest.
PeopleAdam, Balaam, Cain, Core, Enoch, James, Judas, Jude, Korah, Michael
PlacesEgypt, Ephesus, Gomorrah, Sodom
TopicsAfterward, Afterwards, Already, Although, Believe, Believed, Delivered, Desire, Destroy, Destroyed, Destruction, Didn't, Egypt, Faith, Familiar, Fully, Informed, Intend, Later, Matter, Mind, Purpose, Remembrance, Remind, Safely, Saved, Saving, Subsequently, Though
Outline1. He exhorts them to be constant in the profession of the faith.
4. false teachers crept in to seduce them, for whose evil doctrine a horrible punishment is prepared;
20. whereas the godly may persevere, grow in grace, and keep the faith.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesJude 1:5
6223 rebellion, of Israel
LibraryThe Holy Spirit and the one Church
Our text suggests to us three things: first, an inquiry--Have we the Spirit? secondly, a caution--if we have not the spirit we are sensual; thirdly, a suspicion--there are many persons that separate themselves. Our suspicion concerning them is, that notwithstanding their extra-superfine profession, they are sensual, not having the Spirit; for our text says, "These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit." I. First, then, our text suggests AN INQUIRY--Have we the Spirit? This …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 4: 1858
Persevering Grace. Jude 1:24,25.
The Manifestation of the Church with Christ.
The Twofold Bearing of this Fact.
The Redeemer's Return is Necessitated by the Present Exaltation of Satan.
Saved by Grace;
The Character of Its Teachings Evidences the Divine Authorship of the Bible
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