Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. – Jude 5-7
Many years ago I read a very enlightening article about the dangerous impact of television. This was written just as cable TV was beginning to become an option for more people. I thought the writer would focus on the dangers of inviting R-rated content into our living rooms through HBO or other providers. He didn’t. Although he mentioned that danger, the main focus of the article was the danger in the unspoken assumptions that TV writers and programming brought into our minds. Ideas that ranged from a godless universe to the ability to solve even the worst problems in 60 minutes. Assumptions are a powerful thing.
Jude has two very powerful assumptions under which he works: Jesus is God in the flesh and was active throughout the history of God’s people – from earlier than 1500 years before his incarnation through the ages to come. Jude assumes it. He speaks about how Jesus(!) brought God’s people out of Egypt, and how he meeted out judgment on those who had been saved from Pharaoh but did not remain faithful. Assumption: Jesus has the authority to save and to judge.
Jude’s second assumption (Jesus’ authority) brings with it a comfort and a warning for us. Just as the people of Moses’ day, the people of Jude’s day would be protected from even those who troubled them (mentioned in the preceding verses to these quoted above). We can be confident of Jesus’ protective care for us. He will save and protect us who believe in him.
The warning should be self-evident: we dare not turn away from the salvation Jesus has won for us, for fear of his judgment. This warning all too often falls on deaf ears of those who need to heed it, and shakes the hearts of Jesus’ true followers. Those who need to hear it – those who presume upon Jesus’ grace, assuming that they have a right to it – will often ignore this warning. Those who recognize their utter need for God’s grace and mercy (cf. Jude 2) too easily fear a loss of salvation and the blessings of mercy, peace, and love which is Jesus’ gift to all who believe.
To that we say, keep the faith!