Thursday, September 08, 2022

Don’t Forget What You Never Knew

“Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day — just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.”

Ummm …

What do you mean, “remind”?

If I Recall Correctly ...

I wasn’t on the Exodus march from Egypt. I certainly wasn’t around to see the condemnation of the angels. And I was living nowhere near — and no time near — when Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed.

In fact, nobody to whom Jude himself was writing knew anything firsthand about these events. The Exodus was approximately 1,500 years earlier, and Sodom and Gomorrah went up in smoke roughly a half-millennium before that. As for the binding of the fallen angels, nobody even has a speculative date for that one.

So what does Jude mean, “remind”? We weren’t at any of those events — and neither were any of Jude’s audience.

Well, Jude is one of those late additions to the canon of scripture, so ... maybe he’s a little off on this?

The End of the Ages

Except that it’s a repeated doctrine of scripture. Take a look at 1 Corinthians 10:11. There we see that the whole history of the nation of Israel is instructive for Christians, and in particular, those “upon whom the end of the ages has come”. And if you don’t like that one, consider how often Old Testament prophecies are the signal reason that we know what we are to take seriously in the New Testament age.

It seems that God expects us to be reminded of a whole lot of stuff we never experienced firsthand. And he tells us that there will be serious consequences for us if we aren’t. We can fall into errors we could have avoided if we knew a little history. We can make mistakes for which others have had to be severely judged. And if nothing else, we could miss helpful information to which God has already granted us open access.

The big message: take Old Testament history seriously. God gave it to us for our instruction.

Read it. Learn it. Know it. Refer to it. Soak it up. Understand it. Trust it. Apply it.

The Unified Counsel of God

The Old Testament is not some kind of second-rate compendium of obsolete information. It’s not a compilation of irrelevant theory or pseudo-history. It’s not wisdom for Jews but useless for Gentiles. It’s not just “replaced”, by the New Testament; rather it’s an integral part of the unified counsel of God, relevant now and for all time. We cannot do without it.

And we forget that at our peril.

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