Warnings from the Past
6 And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day;
7 as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. (NKJ)
This is one of the most controversial passages in all of the New Testament. Remember that Jude has been writing against these false teachers who have wormed their way into the church.
He has already given us the warning concerning those who were saved out of Egyptian bondage only to be destroyed in the wilderness because of their unbelief. He now moves on to two other examples. Examples of apostasy. each of these fell away from their position and sinned against and rebelled against the light that they had been given.
Apostasy and Judgment are the Common Points
It is true that each one stands in a little different situation and their sins are also varied to some degree. But they all apostatized and all were punished. The people both that came up out of Egypt and those of Sodom were destroyed. It seems from scriptures that spirits are never destroyed, that is annihilated. They are however imprisoned or punished.
Rebellion does not go unpunished
Therefore the main thing that Jude wants his readers to understand is that God will not allow rebels against His plans and will to go unpunished. The inference then is that these false teachers, the apostates who make the grace of God a ground for all types of sinful sexual perversions, will also face the day of God's wrath.
Let us now consider the passage
And the angels
We must not forget who these are that we refer to.
These are the spirit beings that God created before the material creation was undertaken.
They are referred to as sons of God in various passages in the Old Testament.
Job 1:6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. (NKJ)
Ps 89:6 For who in the heavens can be compared to the LORD? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened to the LORD? (NKJ)
Dan 3:25 "Look!" he answered, "I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God."
They are a part of a group that is referred to as innumerable and are also described as very powerful.
who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode,
This is the part that scholars do not agree on.
Some think that this refers to something that we know nothing else about from the Scripture that we have.
That either Jude had access to other information that we do not or by inspiration he was speaking of something that his readers were not familiar.
Others believe that this passage refers back to Genesis 6 where it is said that the sons of God took for themselves the daughters of men. Now some think that this refers to the descendant of Seth marrying the descendant of Cain.
NEW TO YOU VIEW
I think this view is the least likely for the three. If Jude was trying to remind them of things that they already knew, then how could he introduce a subject they knew nothing about. If he was referring to some knowledge that we are not aware, there is no evidence of it.
As a matter of fact the evidence supports the view that the Sons of God in Genesis 6 were truly angels. This was the interpretation of Genesis during the first century and also by the early church for at least the first three centuries. In the LXX version of the Old Testament, they had translated Genesis 6 as "angels of God" rather than simply sons of God.
MAN & WIFE VIEW
The second view that is very popular today, especially among the more liberal scholars is that this is but the marriage of the descendant of Seth with those of Cain.
Now it is true that at the very beginning we have the two great forces of good and evil identified in Cain and Seth. Cain had killed his brother and as a result was placed under a curse. Also many of his descendant, although quite inventive were also morally corrupt. Seth, as you remember was quite different. He was given to replace righteous Abel. So it is possible that the mixing of these two families was not in accord with God's plan. We find that later on in history when the Israelites are brought into the promised land, they were commanded not to take any of the natives of the land to be their wives nor to give their daughters to be married to the sons of the native Canaanite.
But even though this all sounds quite possible, there are a few things not considered in this. One is that Seth and Cain were not the only children of Adam and Eve. Seth and Cain had to of married either their sisters or their nieces. It is said that Adam and Eve had other children. Adam lived 800 years after Seth was born and Gen. 5:4 says that he had other sons and daughters. Adam and Eve could have had quite a number of children in 800 years. Remember they seemed to wear better than we do today and were probably also able to have more children. So then there were no two races, the 'Sethites and the Cainites but many families upon the earth before the flood.
Secondly, this does not explain the birth of giants as a result of these marriages. Have you ever wondered if there is any basis of Greek mythology that the gods came down and took wives and bore some "mighty men which were of old, men of renown."
The only other reference to these giants was those who settled in the land of Canaan after the flood. The spies described themselves as grasshoppers in the presence of these giants. Num 13:33 "There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight." (NKJ)
Later when Amos gives a description of the destruction of these people, he refers to them as being as tall as a tree. Amos 2:9 "Yet it was I who destroyed the Amorite before them, whose height was like the height of the cedars, and he was as strong as the oaks; yet I destroyed his fruit above and his roots beneath. (NKJ)
And in one particular case, the bed of one of these was described as being 13 feet long. Deut 3:11 "For only Og king of Bashan remained of the remnant of the giants. Indeed his bedstead was an iron bedstead. (Is it not in Rabbah of the people of Ammon?) Nine cubits is its length and four cubits its width, according to the standard cubit. (NKJ) There is also the case presented by Kent Hovind of a human skeleton eleven feet long having been found in a coal bed.
ANGELS WHO LEFT THEIR FIRST DOMAIN
Just the language indicates that the angels here in question took on another form or in some way left the condition in which they were created. We cannot be dogmatic about this and it affects not great doctrines. But I assume with many others that this refers to what it sounds like. When taken along with other passages already mentioned this is saying that there was a group of angels took on the form of men or possessed men living before the flood. They thus left their assigned domain of the spirit and took on flesh.
Now some will doubt this is possible, but most of the situations where angels are seen in the Old Testament, they take on the form of men and appear to be men. A very good example of this is in Genesis 18 where two angels and Jehovah, a pre-incarnate revelation of Jesus Christ, come walking into Abraham's camp where he offers them water to wash their feet and then kills the fatted calf so they can all eat together. It would appear from the context that this is just what happened. Later as the two angels appear in Sodom, they are mistaken for men. If angels can take on such physical form at the bidding of God, I do not think it unreasonable that they might do so on their own accord if they would leave "their own habitation" and fulfill the role of father to children by the daughters of men.
Now I know that to many of you this might sound like the x-files. But I would suggest that you study the passages and then make up your mind.
There is another reason why I think that this is talking about angels and women. It is because this is compared to what he speaks of later concerning Sodom. He says, "as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh." Notice the phrase strange flesh. The idea is that which is not normal. In other words, the angels went after strange flesh, abnormal desires, even as the people of Sodom went after strange flesh, abnormal desires. This could only be true if this verse is referring to angels and women. If it refers to men and women, it could be a spiritual sin in that they were marrying the wrong families, but it could hardly be called strange flesh.
He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day;
What ever these angels were guilty of their punishment was swift and determinative and final. He refers to them as being chained until the final day of judgment when they will be allowed free only to face the final judgment for their apostasy. In Rev. 20:10 the devil is cast into the lake of fire and appears to remain their forever. "The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever." (NKJ)
As a matter of fact, the lake of fire, hell, was prepared for the devil and his angels, Jesus said. Matt 25:41 "Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: (NKJ)
Peter also refers to this same event in 2 Pet 2:4 For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; (NKJ) Here the word for hell is unique, being found only here in the New Testament.
Bringing this all together, it appears that the judgment on these angels was quite severe. Jude is trying to warn these early Christians that these apostate leaders are not innocuous, but rather deserve and will receive the judgment of God.
as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them
Jude next moves on to the other illustration. Here he chooses one of the best known examples of God's judgment in the Bible. Sodom and Gomorrah lay on the southern edge of the Dead Sea. Which at that time was no doubt much different from today. In Genesis 13:10 it is described as being like the garden of God, which referred to the Garden of Eden no doubt. It was also a commercial city as can be seen by the number of cities that lay in the immediate vicinity. But that same chapter of Genesis also says that the men of Sodom were very wicked.
The wickedness of Sodom has been brought into question since society no longer goes along with God's view that homosexuality is a sin. Today the modern commentators says that the sin of Sodom was not homosexuality but of being inhospitable. Walter Wink in his little paper, "Homosexuality and the Bible says, "Some passages that have been advanced as pertinent to the issue of homosexuality are, in fact, irrelevant. One is the attempted gang rape in Sodom (Gen 19:1-29)." Wink says that the passage in Sodom has nothing to do with homosexuality, but Jude seems to think otherwise. Now I am glad to say the Wink is not a Baptist but I am sorry to say that he was the featured speaker at the National Ministries luncheon in Des Moines Iowa last year. His real problem is seen later in the article where he says, "Where the bible mentions homosexual behavior at all, it clearly condemns it. I freely grant all that. The issues is precisely whether that Biblical judgment is correct." The question as Wink sees it, is not a matter of if the Bible condemns homosexual practices but it is a matter of whether or not the Bible is correct.
in a similar manner to these,
What Jude is saying is that in the same manner as the angels abandoned what God had designed for them and took on another domain and sought strange flesh, these of Sodom also left "the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due." Rom 1:27 (NKJ)
The whole idea is that they knew what was right and chose to do that which was wrong. With the angels there can be little doubt about this. they were created holy, but still they abandoned God's plan for them and went after strange flesh.
But these also were not ignorant of God's predetermined domain He had set up for man. Remember Paul tells us that God has not left Himself without a witness. Even these had a witness. Do you realize that the time of this event was only about 450 years after the flood and that according to the dating given in the Bible Shem, the chosen seed of Noah was still alive and may have lived within a day's journey of Sodom as many think that he was the king priest of Salem, i.e. Jerusalem. Noah had been alive only 100 years before. The point is that these knew that they were in the wrong. They knew better. But they had fallen from those earlier truths.
having given themselves over to sexual immorality
The fall of any generation can be detected in the manner in which they conduct themselves morally. Sexual immorality is the sign of a declining empire. The perversion that we find here was not unknown at the fall of the Greek empire as well as the Roman. The cities were well to do and had given themselves over to sensual desires. Many today think sex is the end of everything and that is the most basic of instincts. I was listening to a program the other day where a well known evolutionary psychologist was claiming that men raping women was a natural evolutionary development. Well murder seems to be so to, of the first two brothers, Cain and Abel, Cain murdered his brother. We can find almost endless excuses for sin. That way we can avoid calling it sin. What ever the world wants to believe about morality, there is but one ideal pattern in the Bible. God intended one man to either remain faithful to one woman all his life or to be celibate. Jesus said that from the beginning God created them male and female. H quoted from Genesis that says a man shall leave his father and mother and must remain faithful to his wife as long as she is faithful to him. And what goes for the men goes for the women as well.
and gone after strange flesh,
The idea of strange flesh is that of what is against nature. They wanted to have relations with the angels who they thought were men. They had no interest in the daughters of Lot. They were so incensed in their desires that they did not stop pursuing their shameless ways even when they were stuck with a supernatural blindness.
The Bible is plain about homosexuality. It is always condemned wherever it is mentioned. We can use the best arguments to try to justify the immorality of our day but it will not change God's holiness in the slightest.
are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
We notice finally that they are set for as an example of God's judgment. Now I do not think it is our job to judge or condemn these people or any others. God is quite capable of defending His own righteousness if we will but proclaim what the Word ways.
Jude is trying to send us a clear message. Remember Sodom. Sodom with all its inhabitants which was one day as the garden of Eden and the next morning as the fires of hell.
God is longsuffering, full of grace and mercy. but on that fateful day, God's longsuffering ran out. Even Lot, was not saved altogether. He lost his daughters who had married the men of Sodom. He lost his wife for she could not help looking longingly back on the pleasures of Sodom.
But the day that fire fell from heaven and consumed the cities of the plains are not to be compared with the everlasting destruction of the vengeance of the almighty God.
Do not wait in Sodom as did Lot and his family. Do not look longingly on the corruptions of this world. Do not settle down among the immorality of this world and loose your testimony as Lot did. Sodom may have pleasures galore but it also has a future filled with judgment.
There is one other lesson I think that we should learn from Sodom. That is the example of Abraham. When Abraham found out that God's patience was about to give way to judgment, Abraham went to praying, praying for Sodom. What if there are fifty righteous there, will you destroy the righteous with the wicked. Abraham understood the justice and holiness of God. He also knew of His mercifulness. He pleads for Sodom. That terribly wicked and immoral city was now the focus of Abraham's prayers. Abraham no doubt knew some of the people of Sodom and he didn't hold out much hope for it, else he would not have bargained with God down to "ten righteous." He knew that Lot was there and oh how he wanted Lot to be safe. So he prays to the only one who can make a difference. He prays until he almost embarrassed himself by continual asking.
Well in one way God answered the prayer of Abraham, for Lot did escape although the city did not.
Let us pray for those who are going astray and even for those who are leading the pack. Let us not imagine that we need not be aware of the wiles of Satan, but at the same time let us pursue those who are going astray.
19 Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back,
20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins. (NKJ)
The question is all this is apostasy. Have you fallen away from God. It might be that it was into some sexual sin, or maybe just a leaving of God's fellowship. Maybe it is envy, or hatred that you have allowed into your heart.
God is still waiting for you to repent. But never forget Sodom and realize that God has placed limits on His longsuffering.
This message was preached at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at http://toulonbaptist.com