Respect for the Devil

Jude - Eighth in a series

Jude's statement in verse 8 (see previous post) that the ungodly men speak evil of dignities is elaborated in Jude 9 and 10: Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.

The apostates are experts in their knowledge of man's lower nature but lack spiritual discernment and so they underestimate the real power and strategy of Satan to ruin man and the church.

Had they godly wisdom, they would emulate the archangel who would not personally exhort Satan but stood behind the power of the name of the Lord, which is what we all should do when contending with the devil and his minions.

Because this story about Michael disputing with Satan about the body of Moses is not found in Scripture, commentators have despaired over Jude, as explained by Albert Barnes, a 19th century American Presbyterian minister:

This verse has given more perplexity to expositors than any other part of the Epistle; and in fact the difficulties in regard to it have been so great that some have been led to regard the Epistle as spurious… It has been supposed that the apostle quotes an apocryphal book existing in his time, containing this account, and that he means to admit that the account is true. Origen mentions such a book, called The Assumption of Moses, extant in his time, containing this very account of the contest between Michael and the devil about the body of Moses. That was a Jewish Greek book, and Origen supposed that this was the source of the account here. … Jude here refers to a prevalent “tradition” among the Jews… he has adopted it as containing an important truth, and one which bore on the subject under discussion. In support of this, it may be observed… there were many traditions of this nature among the Jews. (Mat 15:2) Though many of these traditions were puerile and false, yet there is no reason to doubt that some of them might have been founded in truth… an inspired writer might select those which were true… Thus Paul refers to the tradition about Jannes and Jambres as true history. (2 Tim 3:8).

According to Daniel, Michael was one of the chief princes (Dan 10:13), who helped the angel fighting against the princes of Persia and Grecia (Dan 10:20, 21). That nameless angel came to support Daniel in answer to his prayers, and revealed a store of prophecy to him. (Dan 10:14) Thus, we know that angels may be privy to God's mind, and it is no wonder that men at times desire to look to angels for special vision and support. Yet God has clearly stated that we should pray only to Him for guidance and help. If he should send an angel in response to our cries, that is his purview.

We do know that Michael was Israel's protector (Dan 12:1) and that he wrestled against Satan.

And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him... Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short! (Rev 12:7-12)

How much longer will Satan be permitted to execute wrath on earth? Did Jude ever read John's Revelation? Is there an angel watching over you right now?

We can't know every mystery or even every fact, but we must know the important things and on these we will stand. We need to understand the deadliest threats to the faith and the church which Jude reveals.

The varieties of courage

Eleventh in the COURAGE series

As Christians, we know it is right to be courageous, but we do not have a strict categorization of what courage is at any given time.

We know we are to follow Christ, putting Him ahead of family and friends (Mat 10:37; Luke 14:26). We confess the Lord no matter what it costs us (2 Tim 2:12). We are to consider others better than ourselves (Phil 2:3), so in defending life, others come first. As we read God's Word, we gain many insights and if we pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17), guidance will be granted, yet each situation is unique.

In the Bible there were some who stood down when they should have stood up. Elijah had shown great courage over the time of the drought, but he became depressed and could not shake off the fears and doubts, so he was replaced by Elisha, for God had instructed him and he would not rise up. (1 Ki 19)

Earlier in this series we saw that Josiah showed courage in going out to battle against the Egyptians, but it was not his fight so his death was untimely. Nevertheless he remains as an example of obedience and courage as does Elijah; we all fail in some trials.

The key to any situation is to know the right course of action. Should we boldly rise up against evil or be silent and wait on the Lord? Obedience could fall either way.

To practice obedience, we must be close to God, and only when we are very weak can we rely wholly on his strength. My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. (2 Cor 12:9)

Yes, weakness for the Christian can assist in courage, which we will need no matter whether we rise up or stand down. And it could take as much courage to resist passively as actively.

As we look around our nation and see the demise of the ideals and culture that once encircled us with protection, we may cry for times gone by. Yet we confidently know God does not change and He is with us to the end (Mat 28:20). The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me? (Ps 118:6)

In distressing days, Christians have opportunities to show courage, and if we are affected by economic weakness in our households, let it be an incentive to prayer and spiritual renewal. How will we cling to Christ until we have great need?

The Scripture encourages us: For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. (Heb 12:4)

Of course it is possible that in time we, too, will be called to resist unto blood, but in that day, the most courageous man in the world will be with us. To him we will lift our eyes in the next post of this series.

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. -Mat 5:14

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