When Jude wrote a letter to first-century Christians, his intention was clear. He wrote in order to exhort them “to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Jude warned the saints about ungodly, fleshly men who were corrupting the church. He wanted Jesus’ followers to be forearmed against their devious devices and dangerous doctrines.
In a just fashion, using His own approaches, and on His own time schedule, God will deal with those who corrupt the truth or live corruptly themselves. In connection with the overall thrust of the book of Jude, as a means of getting the attention of the brothers and sisters to whom he wrote, Jude appealed to God’s past dealings with certain people. Hear the message of Jude 5: “But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.” There are some great lessons for Christians of every generation to observe from those words in Jude 5.
The great value of reminding/repetition – “But I want to remind you . . .” Jude acknowledged that the saints to whom he was writing were familiar with God’s dealings with Israel. Still, he wanted to remind them about it. Jesus was a master at using repetition and referring to Old Testament incidents and teachings as reminders. Peter basically told the members of the church to whom he wrote an epistle that as long as he still was alive, they should count on him to remind them of God’s truth and their responsibilities (2 Peter 1:12-15). Yes, we need to hear the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27), but there is a place, an extremely important place, for reminding folks about the basics. Humans are prone to forget or get distracted and fail to see the significance of certain matters. Bible class teachers and gospel preachers, do not be hesitant and negligent to remind. Believe me, people need reminders.
The knowledge of the brethren to whom Jude penned this letter – “. . . you once knew this . . .” In a nutshell: I know that you know this, but I am telling you anyway. Did you notice that Jude referred to Old Testament matters without giving any type of explanation? What does that show us? First of all, God expected those Christians (and us) to be familiar with the history of the Old Testament. Jude’s message about “the people” being delivered out of Egypt should have been one which they knew well from their studies of the book of Exodus. Second, the Lord expected these Christians not only to know the facts, but to learn from those matters. Third, God expected them to make the proper application of what they knew/learned.
The Lord is at the center of the content of Jude 5. Jude’s message about the Lord serves as a strong reminder, a reminder that causes His right- thinking children to stand in awe of Him. In that verse we see Jehovah portrayed as:
The great Demonstrator of power – Our God engaged in a “head-to-head” battle with Pharaoh, and God’s power reigned supreme. The monarch of ancient Egypt, who caused mere mortals to tremble before him and his iron fist, wanted Israel to stay put in Egypt. In contrast, God’s view was, “They are coming out.” We know whose will prevailed!
The great Deliverer – God saved the people,
His people, “out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 4:20). And how did He accomplish such? He did so “by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm” (Deuteronomy 5:15).
The great Destroyer – Please do not ignore this aspect of the Lord’s character. Jude says that He destroyed those who did not believe. Our God is gracious and kind, yet those attributes neither negate nor minimize His wrath. God calls on us to recognize both His goodness and His severity (Romans 11:22).
It is possible for God’s people, that is, those whom He has delivered, to become unbelievers. Think again about the wording of Jude 5: first the Lord saved His people out of Egypt, then afterward destroyed the unbelievers among them. That gets my attention! Yes, it is possible for God’s people to depart from Him through unbelief (Hebrews 3:12). Yes, it is possible for believers to become unbelievers.
Focus on a few contrasting statements from Psalm 106. When God carried Israel out of Egypt and across the Red Sea, “Then they believed His words” (106:12). They went from believers to forgetters: “They forgot God their Savior, Who had done great things in Egypt” (106:21). Then they went from being forgetters to being unbelievers: “. . . They did not believe His word” (106:24). No sophistry or tampering with the text of the Bible can remove this reality: those children of God who choose not to trust in Him and His salvation will face the music!
The message of Jude 5 is rich. Let us learn to appreciate it and apply it properly.
— Roger D. Campbell