12 These people are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. 13 They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever. ~ Jude 12-13
Today, we come back to our study of Jude which has as its main topic "apostasy." Now, apostasy is when someone knows the truth and they turn their back on it, deliberately. An apostate is a person who once claimed to be a Christian but has irreversibly abandoned and renounced biblical Christianity. It was John Owen who once said, "There is no broader way to apostasy than to reject God’s sovereignty in all things concerning the revelation of himself and our obedience."
In v.12 of today's passage we read, "These people are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead."
These false teachers were embedded within the church body, and they were like a cancer to the believers in Christ. Highlighted in this verse is the first of five reasons why apostates are so dangerous.
Jude wrote, "These people are blemishes at your love feasts." Jude is addressing the defiling nature of the apostate. When we get a spot on a piece of fabric like a white shirt, the shirt is seemingly ruined until we get it cleaned. Even though most of the fabric looks good, the one small blemish ruins the shirt.
Now, the love feasts were a common service back then that included time singing, time teaching the Word, and time observing the Lord's Supper. After all of that, the church would eat a potluck meal together. It was at that time the apostates would propagate their immoral teaching, their insubordination, and their irreverence.
These love feasts were meal times designed for conversing and sharing and talking over the matters of the faith. The love feasts were designed for people to care for each other. The leaders were to shepherd the folks during that time. If someone needed comfort, they were comforted. If someone needed instruction, they were instructed. But, these false teachers made this time about themselves, and their selfishness told on them.
In Jude's next sentence he wrote about the second description of these apostate teachers, "They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind." This analogy speaks of their false promises. They promised all kinds of things, but they didn't produce but for themselves. Clouds promise rain. When we see a cloud bank come in, it holds out the hope of rain which is good for the crops, and vegetation. False teachers are like big puffy clouds, all vapor, no water.
The third description of the apostate is they are "autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead."Jude likens apostates to worthless trees. "Autumn trees" have no fruit, they are fruitless. We can't get any more fruitless than an autumn tree. This speaks of their barren lives. And, notice that Jude describes them as not just being dead, but "twice dead." These false teachers are trees that are fruitless because they are trees that are rootless. They are not connected to the source of life. They don't produce fruit because of their dead root system. They have been pulled up by the roots and they do not know God. They are blemishes at the love feasts, they are clouds without rain, they are twice dead trees.
In v.13 of today's passage we read, "They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever."
Here, Jude highlights the fourth and fifth characteristics of apostate teachers. Jude wrote, "They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame."
When we spend any time on an ocean, at all, we learn to respect the ocean. Oh, we enjoy the sounds, the smells, the sights, but we must respect the ocean because of its power. Often, after a storm, the health department tells us to avoid the water for about two days because the storm churns up trash, like dangerous hypodermic needles. The idea is the apostate stirs up the mud. The apostate stirs up the filth. Formed waves are productive, but storm waves are destructive.
Apostates are blemishes at the love feasts, they are clouds without rain, they are twice dead trees, and they are wild destructive waves.
There's a fifth description in v.13, they are wandering stars. Jude wrote, "they are wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever."
The problem with this description of stars is stars don't wander. Stars are on a fixed orbit. So fixed are the orbits of stars that the ancients navigated their travels by them. We can look at a winter sky or a summer sky, and we know where the constellations can be discovered. And, as a result, we travel in different directions on land or sea based upon our reading of the stars.
But, Jude's description of the apostate makes sense when we consider the phenomenon of the shooting star. A shooting star is not actually a star as much as it's a piece of debris, or space dust, or even a meteor. And when it gets close to our atmosphere, it burns up and it shows up as a bright spot, it shows up as a streak across the sky. It does not last beyond that temporary flash. Once it shoots, it's gone because shooting stars are reserved for the blackness of darkness forever. The same is sadly true for the apostate.
You see, God, through Jude, is calling us to engage in this battle for the truth. He does so because the truth matters to people. Granted, there are those who no matter how much we speak to them about God's truth, they just will not hear us. But, for those who are humble enough to be embraced by the God of the Bible, the God of truth, we engage in this battle. And, in order to engage in this battle, we must be soaked in the word of God. The beauty of being soaked in the word is that it will enable us to be loving, observant, vigilant and discerning, which are musts if we are to keep God's truth from being compromised.