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Weekly Lift

#91. Thankful for judgement - Jude

Bruce Stanley

February 28, 2022

Jude: Thankful for judgement

Welcome to the weekly lift number 91, Tuesday 1st March 2022. We're almost at the end of our walk through the New Testament looking at thankfulness. Today we turn to the letter of Jude: "Thankful for judgement".

As we watched the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces this past week, we are yet again reminded of the sinful nature of humanity. We are reminded of the need for prayer against evil and oppression. And we are reminded of the need for justice. But for justice to occur, there first needs to be judgement. Someone has to determine who has done wrong, and what punishment they deserve. This is at the heart of justice. This is why we can be thankful that we have a God who brings judgement - because this is the road to justice in a sinful world.

Jude is a brother of Jesus, like James. We don't know much about him and this very short letter is... well... short! But he is appealing to the church to watch out for false teachers. This is not uncommon in the New Testament letters. Their sins are outlined in verse 4:

Jude 1:4

4For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

They were claiming to have God-inspired dreams to justify their ungodly behaviour (see verse 8). Jude characterises them harshly in verse 12:

Jude 1:12

12These 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.

Trees without fruit. Uprooted. Twice dead. Wow. These do not sound like great people to be in leadership in a church! It seems a terrible situation, yet Jude appeals to us to remember the God of salvation history - the God who is just and right and acts upon evil. He speaks of the God who has dealt with evil again and again:

Jude 1:5-7

5Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord at one time delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. 6And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. 7In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

What is striking about God's judgement is that it is not only fair and just. It is also final and eternal. This is a type of justice we do not experience fully in this world. We pray for a swift end to this war in Ukraine. But what justice can ever be given to those who have lost families, loved ones, friends... what justice could ever make things seem fair?

This is why Jude writes. To warn the church of evil people, and to warn us to keep watch. But also to remind us that God will deal with evil people. God knows and God will deal. God will bring justice through judgement. We have a God whose desire is that every person might be saved. As Paul writes to Timothy:

1 Timothy 2:3-4

3This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

God "desires" all people to be saved. But he will judge and he will condemn, and he will bring justice on his earth. Although it is a great sadness for us and for God that people would choose to ignore his offer of salvation, it is also a great comfort to us that God is fair. Just. Right. And he will act eternally. His judgment will bring justice. Therefore, we preach a message of repentance - a need for all people to turn to God and be saved.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, we pray for Ukraine. We pray for Russia. We pray for all involved in this war. We pray for peace. We pray for protection, especially of the vulnerable. But we also thank you for your justice and your judgement which you promise will come one day. May we be reminded daily that in our struggles against evil, and against sin, you are our God who faithfully rescues us but also restores us, as we patiently wait for that day when you will bring everlasting peace and justice to our broken world. Amen.

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