Shock and Awe

Lessons in the Book of Jude

by Bob Burridge ©2013, 2016
“… exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith
which was once for all delivered to the saints.”
(watch the video)

Lesson 2: Shock and Awe Jude 5-7

Most of the world became aware of the expression “Shock and Awe” during the early stages of the war in Iraq. It was the kind of colorful phrase the media loved and repeated until it was worn out.

Most people imagined that it meant there would be a huge display of power for the TV cameras. Some almost seemed disappointed that there wasn’t a cataclysmic series of apocalyptic explosions that ended the war immediately. No one in the media seemed to know what was coming. It even befuddled the retired military people who became experts for a moment as network analysts.

The truth is, the strategy was published back in 1996 by Harlan K. Ullman and James P. Wade. The title of their book was “Shock and Awe: Achieving Rapid Dominance“. I’ve read it, and it’s fascinating military theory.

What we saw in Iraq was almost a perfect execution of the strategy of Ullman and Wade. The early concerns and criticisms of the media pundits and the alleged experts made one thing very clear, they had not read the book. The details in almost every phase of the operation, from the weeks leading up to it, the early hours of the war, and all the way to the fall of the Sadaam Regime, were taken right out of the book.

There is even one whole section in chapter 2 about the theory of regime decapitation. It’s a form of Shock and Awe based upon an old Chinese military theory by the warrior-philosopher Sun Tzu.

The introduction summarizes the basic theory in this paragraph, “The aim of Rapid Dominance is to affect the will, perception, and understanding of the adversary to fit or respond to our strategic policy ends through imposing a regime of Shock and Awe. Clearly, the traditional military aim of destroying, defeating, or neutralizing the adversary’s military capability is a fundamental and necessary component of Rapid Dominance. Our intent, however, is to field a range of capabilities to induce sufficient Shock and Awe to render the adversary impotent. This means that physical and psychological effects must be obtained”

With the Republican Guard at first making confused and futile attempts to resist they were soon fleeing and surrendering. The whole attack phase ended in record time with very few civilian casualties or collateral damage. The result: those few who were causing all the trouble were rendered impotent and ineffective. They had no choice but to give up and accept the inevitability of their downfall.

Those terror stricken defenders of that evil regime were stunned into defeat. But that was nothing compared with the awesome power of God when he pours out his judgments.

Jude began his epistle with a warning. In every era dangerous people have entered in among God’s people without being recognized for what they are. It is truly an infiltration, a covert operation.

Jude then offered several reminders about what God had already made known. We need to be told again and again about things we know well. Not just because we forget the eternal truths God has made known to us, but to keep them at the surface of our thoughts and awareness.

Jude cites some examples from Scripture to illustrate what God does to the wicked.

First he reminded them of what happened to Israel
after her liberation from Egypt.

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 was a particular pattern in the way this example is reported. God first saved a whole people. After that he destroyed some of them.

The first part, the Exodus, reminded them of the amazing events that set Israel free. In a sense, God’s method of liberating Israel is a form of Shock and Awe. When negotiations between Moses and Pharaoh broke down, a series of awesome judgments began. The overwhelming impact of the very selective and extensive death of the first born, broke the will of Pharaoh to resist any further. So he let God’s people go. But he relented after he thought the threat had passed and pursued Israel to the Red Sea.

It was then that the last judgment of the Exodus took place. Imagine the shock and awe experienced by that proud Egyptian army, as they chased Israel through that dried path across the red sea, when they saw the waters crashing in toward them with no hope of escape.

You would think that all of Israel safe on the other side would have never defied God after that. But it’s not that simple. The fallen human soul does not always do what is most rational. Though all saw the wrath of God poured out on Egypt in the 10 plagues and at the Red Sea, not all continued to honor the Lord who led them out.

The second part of Jude’s example reminds them about those in Israel who did not believe. There were several times when rebellion broke out and judgment came. There were 3,000 stricken dead when they made the Golden Calf at Mt. Sinai. However, the rejection of God’s promise of the Land of Canaan is probably what Jude had in mind here. It was not a sudden destruction. It was a sudden realization of a long in-commutable sentence.

Some did not believe the report of the Spies sent in to scope out the land. Joshua, Caleb and the younger generation trusted that God would give them victory as they reclaimed the promised land. God promised to bless those who believed. They would re-enter the territory he had given to them. But the whole generation of those who did not believe in God’s power and promise died in the wilderness after a 40 year delay. It was a very selective judgment. It was not over in dramatic moments, but the announcement of that judgment itself must have shocked and awed them all.

God knows who are his, even though some stealthily infiltrate among his people. Those who were Jews by race and ritual only defied the orders of the one who Created them. Only those among them who didn’t believe, the infiltrators, were destroyed. This is the way judgment will fall upon apostate church members when God’s judgments fall and the false members are revealed. Hebrews 4:1-2, “Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.”

Sobering words for all who are infiltrators of the church today!

Next, Jude told about God’s dealing with the rebellious angels.

Jude 6, “And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day;”

This is a different kind of example. Angels were not delivered as a group as Israel had been. They at first enjoyed the presence of God without any need for a deliverance. But there were infiltrators even among the Angels. This was eternally known to God of course. But it became evident at some time who they were. Eventually, we don’t know when, they abandoned the boundaries God had set for them. It is very hard to know exactly what Jude was referring to in this isolated reference. The details are evidently unimportant to the point Jude was making.

2 Peter 2:4 clarifies by saying, “God did not spare angels who sinned”. So whatever it was, these spirit beings in some sense violated what is morally right in God’s eyes. Putting these two texts together, and eliminating guess work and fanciful theories, we see that there were some among these Angels who rebelled against the boundaries God had set for them. They did not keep their proper domain, their God-assigned area of duty and responsibility. Instead of serving in the station or place where God put them, they aspired to something God had not given to them, something forbidden to them. God’s word does not tell us the details about the rebellion of the angels.

There is a Jewish myth from the fictional Book of Enoch. But it has no credibility. Yet it’s still repeated by many who should know better today. It said that in the time before the flood, angels came to earth and co-habited with human women and had children by them. These children were half-human, half-devils, monsters of a different nature than men. This theory is based upon a narrow interpretation of Genesis 6:4 The King James reads, “There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.”

There are serious problems with this strange interpretation:
1. Angels have no bodies except the appearances of bodies God gave them at times. They sometimes appeared as humans to communicate God’s message to us. Their nature is pure spirit except in these special God assigned missions.

2. The information we have indicates that angels neither get married nor have offspring. For example: Jesus said in Matthew 22:30 (and also in Mark 12:25) that humans, in the resurrection neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

3. The terms “giants in the earth” and “mighty men of old, men of renown” does not mean they were monsters or super-humans of great size and physical power. It is a term that means they were influential and had become powerful in the land. The NASB keeps the Hebrew word to avoid that misinterpretation. It translates Genesis 6:4, “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.” Some rebellious sons of God’s covenant people took the daugters of these evil tyrants as their wives, and their children were raised in a power structure that came to have great civil authority.

Satanic religions have often promoted the idea of an incarnation of Satan or of his spirit followers to live among us and attack the church with false teachings. There is no biblical support for that.

The point Jude and Peter are making is that these angels did not get away with their rebellion. The result is their certain and impending doom. They are kept in eternal bonds under darkness until the great day of Judgment.

2 Peter 2:4 continues to tell us how God deals with these angels. He “… cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment;”

In that great judgment day, at the return of Christ, God’s wrath and justice will be poured out on them. That judgment has already been pronounced, and will come with awesome shock. The judgment will be devastating, horrible, and eternal.

Finally Jude reminds them
of the classic destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Jude 7, “as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”

We all know the story about God’s judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them. The five cities in that ancient region were called the Pentopolis. They were Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboim, and Zoar (Deuteronomy 29:23, Hosea 11:8). Only Zoar was spared from God’s judgment. (Genesis 19:21-25)

The sin in this case was sexual immorality, primarily homosexuality. Instead of finding sexual satisfaction in marriage with a person of the opposite sex, the inhabitants of this region went after “strange flesh”, forbidden sexual relationships. Unlike the attitude of today’s world where sexual orientation is considered a civil liberty, God’s word presents this as a gross immorality.

More detail is given in 2 Peter 2:6-11,”and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds) — then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries, whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord.”

The same basic principle lies at the root of all sin. Rebellion against God’s moral principles is pure evil. But the issue Jude is dealing with isn’t so much the similarity of sin in these three examples. It is the certainty of Judgment. Those who had infiltrated the church in the time of Jude faced inescapable horrors.

Sodom and Gomorrah give one of the most graphic illustrations of the nature of Judgment. It was often administered that way in Scripture. Notice these other warnings:

Deuteronomy 29:23, “The whole land is brimstone, salt, and burning; it is not sown, nor does it bear, nor does any grass grow there, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, which the LORD overthrew in His anger and His wrath.”

Isaiah 1:9, “Unless the LORD of hosts Had left to us a very small remnant, We would have become like Sodom, We would have been made like Gomorrah.”

Jeremiah 49:17-18, ” ‘Edom also shall be an astonishment; Everyone who goes by it will be astonished And will hiss at all its plagues. As in the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah And their neighbors,’ says the LORD, ‘No one shall remain there, Nor shall a son of man dwell in it.’ ”

Romans 9:29, “And as Isaiah said before: ‘Unless the LORD of Sabaoth had left us a seed, We would have become like Sodom, And we would have been made like Gomorrah.’ ”

God’s judgment is certain, inescapable, and devastating.

These three examples of God’s judgment are only a hint at the eternal fire the ungodly will face. Even after the sudden pouring out of God’s wrath in the Great Day of Judgment, those not sincerely resting in the hope that is ours in Christ alone will endure unrelenting terrors with no hope of deliverance.

2 Peter 3 gives us a glimpse at a day which is yet to come in verses 10-13, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”

This will be a time of unprecedented Shock and Awe. The most bold and arrogant will be humbled by a power they have refused to acknowledge. But in that final cascade of judgment, all will be forced to admit God’s Sovereign Glory. Before him, every knee shall bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is in fact, Lord. This does not mean they will repent and honor God. They will admit truths they will eternally hate. They will have to admit that to which they will never submit. It will be too late to escape for those who have remained in their rebellion, for those who had infiltrated the church to move it away from God’s standards.

It will be a humbling reminder of what we who are redeemed deserve but will not suffer. It will be a day of praise and humble thanksgiving beyond our comprehension.

Be assured, the enemies of Christ’s kingdom will not prevail. Their seeming victory is an illusion. Their claims and beliefs are based upon misinformation. They are given over to believe the lie. Christ’s church will continue victoriously, even though false ideas and deceivers try to run her into ruin. They cannot succeed. They will not get away with it.

(Bible quotations are from the New King James Version of the Bible unless otherwise noted.)

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