Sunday, April 22, 2007

As it is Now and Ever Shall Be, (But for the Grace of God Now.)

Jude 14-16

14 • It was also about these that Enoch,
the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying,
"Behold, the Lord came with ten thousands of his holy ones,
15 to execute judgement on all
and to convict all the ungodly
of all their deeds of ungodliness
that they have committed in such an ungodly way,
and of all the harsh things
that ungodly sinners have spoken against him."

16 • These are grumblers, malcontents,
following their own sinful desires;

• they are loud-mouthed boasters,
showing favouritism to gain advantage.

The thing is that in a lost eternity all this ungodliness will be answered with as much a distance from God as could ever have been desired with no satisfaction in the result since the driving force is not the desire to be unlike God but rather the desire that there should be no God.

With all reason in hell to be malcontent grumblers, the lack of contentment and teeth gnashing will be in proportion to the discontented hedonism indulged in here.

In a place where the lost really will be able to say, 'I did it my way' the fearful scramble to toady any slight advantage whatsoever will be eternally frustrated to disappointment.

The Gloom of Utter Darkness Forever

Jude 12-13

12 • These are blemishes on your love feasts,
as they feast with you without fear,
looking after themselves;

• waterless clouds,
swept along by winds;

• fruitless trees in late autumn,
twice dead, uprooted;
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

Hell will doubly be a second death for those who make use of all the trappings of faith and the visible privileges of sonship in order to cavort heedlessly under the cover of a pretend faith.

The worst features of a fallen nature, as far from garden of Eden fruitfulness and order as chaos can swallow will be incorporated into hell as eternity swallows up wasted time itself along with all hypocrisy.

Standing Between the Dead and the Living

Jude 9-11

9 • But when the archangel Michael,
contending with the devil,
was disputing about the body of Moses,
he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment,
but said, "The Lord rebuke you."

10 • But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand,
and they are destroyed by all
that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively.

11 • Woe to them!
For they walked in the way of Cain
and abandoned themselves
for the sake of gain to Balaam's error
and perished in Korah's rebellion.

Moses had witnessed contention against him get to the pitch that after Korah's rebellion, which you can read all about in Numbers 16, Aaron had to run through the camp of Israel with a censer full of fire from the altar to 'head off' God's anger and prevent it from resulting in the deaths of all Israel. Now this happened the day after the ground had opened up and swallowed whole the followers of Korah with their families, their contention going down with them to the world of the dead, to Sheol. You would have thought that we would learn the lesson not to contend with God in this way but if, the very day after rebellion was swallowed up by the ground, the people could be complaining that the rebellion was the fault of Moses (and therefore of God) how can we expect that mankind will ever cease to shake his fist in God's face.

Certainly, Moses could see a history of such behaviour going right back to the beginning of time. At the time of Korah's rebellion they had yet to face the effects of the non-Israelite prophet Balaam's attempt to get round his inability to curse Israel by introducing an anti-God fertility cult to the heart of the Israelite camp in order to destroy them all — You can read about that and how Phinehas, Aaron's grandson stopped it in Numbers 25 — but Moses could have pointed back to Cain's murder of Abel and how the rebellion and the words spoken in it were expressions of nothing less than unbelief in the very face of God's provision of life and reconciliation.

Lest we should think that the message from the story told by Jude about Michael the archangel contending for the body of Moses is given to show that angels know better we had better note who it is that Michael was contending with. The rebellion of unbelief that shakes its fist in the face of God's grace and is swallowed up whole into hell itself has been Satan's from the very beginning. Michael's care in not giving as bad as he got is because Lucifer's fall could have been his.

Let us be exceedingly careful as we handle things that we don't understand because there is a principle in mankind while still at enmity to God that has us blaspheming God simply because we will not seek understanding nor put our trust in him while at the same time those leads which we instinctively follow lead us, as it were, to be still contending with God as the ground opens up and swallows us.