Hey Jude, don’t make it bad
Take a sad song and make it better
(Lennon – McCartney)
I’m sure the writers of this well-known Beatles classic did not receive their inspiration from the book of Jude in the Bible. It is interesting and often beneficial however, for us to glean from the secular, things which point our attention to the scriptures.
I recently was studying the book of Jude and of course the song, Hey Jude, became firmly lodged in my brain for the rest of the day. I went online to find the lyrics of the song and, as is often the case with Beatles songs (especially in their drug-induced, eastern religion days), just about the time you think you may know what they’re saying, you realize you actually don’t have a clue. This becomes apparent as you find yourself singing along with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band. You’re in Strawberry Fields Forever proclaiming I Am The Walrus!
All together now… “I’d like to be under the sea in an octopus’s garden in the shade.” I rest my case!
It occurs to me that there may be some reading this letter who are not familiar with the Beatles or their music. Before you send in your “Please cancel my subscription” notice, allow me to continue…
In reading the book of Jude, I was struck with how pointedly the author exposes false teachers. Historically, God revisits His judgment on those who willfully depart from His instruction, citing those who fell into disbelief after God’s deliverance of His people from Egypt. Jude 1:5 says: “the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe.”
He goes on to reference the plight of rebellious angels. “And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day.” (Jude 1:6 )
Jude goes on to point out Sodom and Gomorrah and the other cities who indulged in gross immorality and incurred the punishment of eternal fire. In each case, the inference is that the aforementioned had all at one time heard the Word of the Lord and known the truth, but willfully departed from that very truth. It is assumed that there were some who led the rebellion against God and truth and others simply followed. However, in the end they all received the same judgment and punishment.
Most scholars believe Jude was one of Jesus’s brothers. It must have been quite a journey to have grown up with the Son of God as your brother. Prior to Christ’s resurrection, Jude apparently did not believe (see John 7:1-9). Ironically, Jude probably grew up thinking his brother was some kind of false teacher, when in fact, He was not just a dispenser of truth, He was The Truth!
After the resurrection and surrounding events, Jude becomes a believer (see Acts 1:14) and I believe this is one of the reasons he offers such an indictment against false teachers. Now, knowing The Truth in a unique and full context, he is most compelled to expose liars!
Jude goes on to list characteristics of false teachers. They’re dreamers, they defile the flesh (immoral), they reject authority and flippantly revile angelic majesties (referring possibly to heavenly angels, but certainly to Satan’s hoards).
He makes this clear as he writes, “But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him (Satan) a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” (Jude 1:9) But these men (false teachers) revile the things which they do not understand…like unreasoning animals” (Jude 1:10).
Now, you may be thinking, “where is he going with this?”
I believe false teachers abound today in far greater numbers and with much greater potential to influence millions than was ever the case at the time of Jude’s letter. I see them on Christian TV programs, I see them holding conferences drawing thousands, and I hear them preaching their perverted persuasions from pulpits in churches large and small all across our great land!
The lyrics to An Octopus’s Garden, quite frankly, make for more sense than much of the false teaching coming from the present crop of false teachers. In fact, I would submit that strange lyrics from a drug-induced state are far less concerning or offensive than false teaching calculatingly mined from the very Word of God.
Remember, God’s judgment and punishment will fall not only on those who lead the rebellion against the truth, but on those who follow as well.
Friends, it’s a serious state of affairs! How will we detect a lie if we don’t first know the truth? How can we spot a false teacher if we’re not well and intimately acquainted with The Great Teacher and the Word of God?
At the risk of sounding presumptuous, let me join in spirit along with Jude as he writes, “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain persons have crept in, unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Jude 1:3-4)
I anticipate there may be some who will write me and say, in so many words, “Hey Dallas, ease off… don’t make it bad, take a sad song and make it better.” In other words, “Sure there are some problems, but let’s just put a positive spin on it and make it better.”
Maybe the Beatles’ Jude just needed a pat on the back but the Bible’s Jude says we must contend or as Webster’s Dictionary defines, “struggle in opposition, strive in rivalry, and dispute earnestly,” for the faith!
As I wrote in a song some years ago:
It’s time to turn back the darkness
Time to believe what we’ve been told
That the earth is the Lord’s and its fullness
So be strong, be brave, be bold
(It’s Time – Dallas Holm
Going Holm Music)
P.S. Next Praiseletter we’ll look at ways to identify false teachers, the future judgment of false teachers and the defense against them. Until then, our prayers are with you and our desire is for God’s greatest purposes for your lives to be realized.