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. Jude 11

John MacArthur explains:

Korah rebelled against the Word of God.

  • Whereas Cain ignored the God’s command,
  • and Balaam sought to circumvent it,
  • Korah blatantly rebelled against it.

Korah, a cousin of Moses, resented his exclusion from being a priest and envied Moses as God’s mediator. In effect, Korah said, “Forget it. We don’t need priests, and we don’t need Moses.” Abiram, Dathan, and two hundred and fifty others agreed with Korah and joined in his rebellion. According to Numbers 16:3, they believed that the entire congregation was holy and could there enter into God’s presence without having a mediating priesthood. As a result of that rebellion, God opened the ground so that the three leaders with all that belonged to them were swallowed up. He consumed their two hundred and fifty followers with fire.

b. The Application

You say, “That’s pretty serious.” Yes, it is. Korah was a classic example of somebody who doesn’t think that sinful man needs a Savior to serve as a Mediator between himself and a holy God. Such a person propagates the “fatherhood of God”: He claims that all men are the sons of God and have access to Him apart from Christ. That false view asserts that Jesus didn’t have to open the way of access, because God accepts everybody. They think that He is too “loving” to send anyone to hell. If there is such a thing as sin, they are sure that God is only too glad to overlook it.

But God clearly showed that He is greatly displeased with those ideas. Paul said, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man, Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5). Jesus said, “…no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me” (Jn. 14:6). Although God had established the priesthood and Moses as His mediator, Korah claimed that he didn’t need a priest or any other mediator. He thought everybody in the congregation was holy enough to approach God. In effect, he was blaspheming the holy character of God by assuming that a mortal man could enter the presence of God without a mediator. But that is ridiculous. Apostates who claim that they need no Savior may not be judged as immediately as Korah was, but God’s judgment will certainly catch up with them. Their verdict is stated by Jude in verse 11: “Woe unto them!…”

Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate. O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.” —Daniel 9:17-19 ESV

Daniel is interceding in prayer for his people, the people of Israel, who are called by God’s name. He knows that God is committed to holding up the honor of His name. So Daniel pleads for God to act for the sake of His name. He pleads for mercy and is confident that God will respond to uphold His reputation, His glory.

Yesterday we read the first few verses of Jude, which was addressed to

To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:
    May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. —Jude 1:1-2 ESV

Daniel is praying, “we are called by your name and we live by your name. You name gets the glory.  Please give us mercy.” This sounds similar to what David prayed:

    Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory,
        for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
    Why should the nations say,
        “Where is their God?” —Psalm 115:1-2 ESV

“I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He.” John 13:19

John Piper, in a sermon, “The Sovereign Sacrifice: Foreknown, Foretold, for Faith”

In other words, Jesus is saying, “If you are struggling to believe that I am the promised Messiah, that I am the one who was in the beginning with God and was God (John 1:1), that I am the divine Son of God, who can forgive all your sins and give you eternal life and guide you on the path to heaven, then I want to help you believe. And one of the ways I am going to help you have well-grounded faith (you see it here in John 13:19!) is by telling you what is going to happen to me before it happens, so that when it happens, you will have good reason to believe in me.” (See the same structure of thought in John 14:29 and 16:4.)

Now there’s the principle. One way that God helps us believe in Jesus – foreknowing things that are going to happen to Jesus and foretelling things that are going to happen to Jesus – is for the purpose of awakening faith in Jesus for who he really is as the divine Son of God who can forgive you and take care of you forever.

“How then will you comfort me with empty nothings?
There is nothing left of your answers but falsehood.”
Job 21:34

John Piper in a transcript from the radio program, “Ask Pastor John:”

The big picture of Job is that there was a man who was, in one sense, blameless in God’s sight. He was leading a basically upright life. And there is a reality called Satan who challenges God that his man is not as good as he thinks he is. God gives Satan permission to attack Job, and he does so first through his family and possessions, and then through sickness.

Then there is Job’s long illness, and his three friends come. At first they are quiet and offer some counsel, but then they begin to launch into an attack on Job that takes a true theology and distorts it all out of proportion.

Job has about about 29 chapters of misapplied theology in the middle. It’s very hard to navigate your way through those chapters and determine what is true and what is not, because these guys are mixing up truth and falsehood all over the place. I think you’re supposed to get the big picture that God was not happy with these three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar.

And when Elihu shows up, he, I believe, begins to set it right. Finally God speaks and he sets it completely right.

Then there is the last chapter that puts the closure on the whole thing. There it says that God brought all of this upon Job; and Job proves in the end to be a better man than these other men, even though Job himself sinned and had to repent in dust and ashes.

The lesson from the big book of Job is

1) that God is sovereign over all our suffering;

2) he permits Satan to come into our lives and do horrible things to us;

3) he means to prove our faith and purify our lives through it;

4) in the end he will make it good, either in this life or in the life to come; and

5) Satan does not have the last word in the lives of God’s people.

November 24 

Jude 8-16 (ESV)

8 Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. 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. 12 These are hidden reefs [1] at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding 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 forever.

14 It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, 15 to execute judgment 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 favoritism to gain advantage.

November 24 

John 13:18-30 (ESV)

18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, [1] ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

One of You Will Betray Me

21 After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. 23 One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table close to Jesus, [2] 24 so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus [3] of whom he was speaking. 25 So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” 28 Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. 29 Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. 30 So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.

November 24 

Job 21:22-34 (ESV)

22 Will any teach God knowledge,
seeing that he judges those who are on high?
23 One dies in his full vigor,
being wholly at ease and secure,
24 his pails [1] full of milk
and the marrow of his bones moist.
25 Another dies in bitterness of soul,
never having tasted of prosperity.
26 They lie down alike in the dust,
and the worms cover them.

27 “Behold, I know your thoughts
and your schemes to wrong me.
28 For you say, ‘Where is the house of the prince?
Where is the tent in which the wicked lived?’
29 Have you not asked those who travel the roads,
and do you not accept their testimony
30 that the evil man is spared in the day of calamity,
that he is rescued in the day of wrath?
31 Who declares his way to his face,
and who repays him for what he has done?
32 When he is carried to the grave,
watch is kept over his tomb.
33 The clods of the valley are sweet to him;
all mankind follows after him,
and those who go before him are innumerable.
34 How then will you comfort me with empty nothings?
There is nothing left of your answers but falsehood.”

November 24 

Daniel 9 (ESV)

Daniel’s Prayer for His People

9:1 In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, by descent a Mede, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans— 2 in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.

3 Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. 4 I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 5 we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. 7 To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame, as at this day, to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you. 8 To us, O Lord, belongs open shame, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you. 9 To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him 10 and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God by walking in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets. 11 All Israel has transgressed your law and turned aside, refusing to obey your voice. And the curse and oath that are written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out upon us, because we have sinned against him. 12 He has confirmed his words, which he spoke against us and against our rulers who ruled us, [1] by bringing upon us a great calamity. For under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what has been done against Jerusalem. 13 As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us; yet we have not entreated the favor of the Lord our God, turning from our iniquities and gaining insight by your truth. 14 Therefore the Lord has kept ready the calamity and has brought it upon us, for the Lord our God is righteous in all the works that he has done, and we have not obeyed his voice. 15 And now, O Lord our God, who brought your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and have made a name for yourself, as at this day, we have sinned, we have done wickedly.

16 “O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy hill, because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become a byword among all who are around us. 17 Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, [2] make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate. 18 O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. 19 O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.”

Gabriel Brings an Answer

20 While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my plea before the Lord my God for the holy hill of my God, 21 while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. 22 He made me understand, speaking with me and saying, “O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding. 23 At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved. Therefore consider the word and understand the vision.

The Seventy Weeks

24 “Seventy weeks [3] are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place. [4] 25 Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time. 26 And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its [5] end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. 27 And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, [6] and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.”

Whether you’ve been reading through the Bible all year, or have just joined us, what a blessing to come to this little letter of Jude!

To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: (Jude 1)

John MacArthur says:

Spurgeon, a famous English preacher of the 19th century, said,

“The general call of the gospel is like the sheet lightning we sometimes see on a summer’s evening–beautiful, grand–but whoever heard of anybody being struck by it? But the special call is the forked flash from heaven; it strikes somewhere. It is the arrow shot between the joints of the harness.”

When a person hears a general presentation of the gospel, he can accept it or reject it. But when the Spirit of God moves in and transforms a life, the person responds to that efficacious call and becomes one of “the called.” Galatians 5:13 says, “…ye have been called unto liberty….” The shackles of sin are broken; a person is set free when he receives the effectual call of God. It is an eternal call, and God promises that everybody who is called is justified and also glorified– nothing can break down that process.

J.C. Ryle on John 13:17  If you  know these things, blessed are you if you do them…

We are taught, for another thing, in these verses, the uselessness of religious knowledge if not accompanied by practice. We read, “If you know these things, happy are you if you do them.” It sounds as if our Lord would warn His disciples that they would never be really happy in His service if they were content with a barren head-knowledge of duty, and did not live according to their knowledge.

The lesson is one which deserves the continual remembrance of all professing Christians. Nothing is more common than to hear people saying of doctrine or duty–“We know it, we know it;” while they sit still in unbelief or disobedience. They actually seem to flatter themselves that there is something creditable and redeeming in knowledge, even when it bears no fruit in heart, character, or life. Yet the truth is precisely the other way. To know what we ought to be, believe, and do, and yet to be unaffected by our knowledge, only adds to our guilt in the sight of God.

To know that Christians should be humble and loving, while we continue proud and selfish, will only sink us deeper in the pit, unless we awake and repent.

Practice, in short, is the very life of religion. “To him that knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17.)