Author: Ron Graham
Images of Doom and Danger
Another study in Jude’s short epistle, looking at verses 12 and 13 in which Jude condemns the false men who are diverting God’s people from the apostolic faith once for all delivered.
¶“12These are hidden reefs in your feasts of love. They feast with you without fear. They are shepherds feeding themselves. They are waterless clouds, swept along by winds. They are fruitless autumn trees, uprooted and twice dead. 13They are waves of the wild sea, casting up the foam of their own shame. They are wandering stars, for whom is reserved the blackness of endless darkness” (Jude 1:12-13).
Jude here describes the false men by using a string of epithets in the form of word pictures.
1 Hidden Reefs
“These are hidden reefs in your feasts of love” —making shipwreck of the faith’ (Jude 1:12).
The feasts of love that Jude refers to could be the Lord’s Supper or perhaps a shared meal. In both cases there is loving fellowship. But someone could come into that fellowship with evil motives hidden in their hearts, and be a great danger —a hidden reef.
Paul urged Timothy to ¶“hold to the faith and a good conscience which some have cast away and made a shipwreck of their faith —among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to speak evil.” (1Timothy 1:19).
2 Fearless Feasters
“They feast with you without fear” —blind to their offences and their doom (Jude 1:12). Note: Judas Iscariot ate with Jesus the very night he betrayed him (Matthew 26:20-25)
It is a characteristic of evil men that “there is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:18). In other words they are blind to the offence they are giving to God. They do not feast with you in the spirit of the first passover in Egypt.
The passover meal was to be eaten “with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste —it is the LORD’s passover; for I will pass through the land of Egypt that night and strike all the firstborn” (Exodus 12:11-12).
3 Selfish Shepherds
“They are shepherds feeding themselves” —leaving the unfed sheep to stray (Jude 1:12).
As Jude pictures the evil speakers partaking in the love feasts, he likens them to the shepherds of Israel who at times were self-seeking leaders who neglected God’s flock. For example Ezekiel writes...
¶“As I live, declares the Lord GOD, surely [ I am against the shepherds] because my flock has become a prey. For lack of a shepherd my flock has even become food for all the beasts of the field. And my shepherds did not search for my flock. Instead the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed my flock” (Ezekiel 34:8).
4 Waterless Clouds
“They are waterless clouds, swept along by winds” —and we should discern the “sky” of our times (Jude 1:12).
Here in Australia, farmers may suffer long and severe droughts. They know what it is to see clouds in the sky that are blown away by the wind and drop no rain. Meanwhile the pastures dry up and the sheep or cattle die.
Just as a farmer needs to know the sky and be discerning about the weather, so we need to know the faith and be discerning about those who teach us in these times. Are they waterless clouds or do they bring the refreshing rain of truth?
“You see a cloud rising in the west; immediately you say, 'It's going to rain,' and it does. The south wind blows; you say, 'It's going to be hot,' and it is. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. Why don't you know how to interpret this present time?” (Luke 12:54-56).
5 Twice-Dead Trees
“They are fruitless autumn trees, uprooted and twice dead” (Jude 1:12) —whereas Jesus said, “every good tree bears good fruit” (Luke 7:17).
In cold places, a deciduous fruit tree appears to die in autumn. But if it's blown over by a winter storm, it is twice and truly dead. The evil men that Jude warns us about have stopped bearing good fruit, and have uprooted themselves from the true faith.
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked... but his delight is in the law of the LORD... He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither...” (Psalm 1:1-3).
6 Raging Waves
“They are waves of the wild sea, casting up the foam of their own shame” —and a danger especially to those young in the faith (Jude 1:13).
The ocean waves can be fun. Children enjoy them. But waves can also be dangerous, and we keep well away from them when a severe storm is blowing. The evil men are waves that toss those who are weak and immature in the faith.
Paul warns us not to be “children tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14, NASB).
7 Wandering Stars
“They are wandering stars, for whom is reserved the blackness of endless darkness” —not keeping to the course set by the apostolic faith (Jude 1:13).
Stars and planets normally keep to a course and we appreciate the “order” of the universe given it by our Lord. However there are aberrant heavenly bodies that wander and cause destruction. The faith once for all delivered is the ancient order from which none should wander.