Part 12 – Cain, Balaam, and Korah – A Trifecta of Trouble
In the one verse we looked at on Sunday – Jude 1:11 – we saw how Jude simply mentioned three Old Testament characters as examples to help illustrate the heretical teachings of the false teachers that were messing with the Christians that Jude was writing to, as well as describe, once again, the eternal punishment these false teachers – and all unbelievers would one day experience. The verse said: Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.
Jude mentions Cain, Balaam and Korah, but says nothing more about their sin or the circumstances of their stories because he assumes that his readers already know and understand the connections. In case you don’t, here they are:
The way of Cain: Cain murdered his younger brother Abel because he was jealous, envious and angry that his sacrifice of an animal was accepted by the Lord, while Cain’s was rejected. The way of Cain can certainly involve the jealousy, envy and anger that was inappropriate towards his innocent brother, and Jude is not necessarily implying that the false teachers were actual murderers, but the way of Cain more than likely refers to Cain’s attitude of worship. Cain felt that he could worship the Lord on his own terms, thus he felt that it was perfectly fine for him to bring the first fruits of the land that he harvested rather than bringing a blood sacrifice.
This speaks of the false teachers, and all unbelievers who believe that they can come to the Lord on their own terms – by works, earning it, heritage, or any other means other than the grace of God that purchased the salvation of sinners by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and by His sacrifice alone.
The error of Balaam: Balaam’s story is long and convoluted, but the essence of the pagan prophet’s ‘error’ is that he used his ability that was temporarily given to him by God (since he was really a magician and a false prophet) for financial gain rather than simply being obedient to the Lord and the specific message the Lord gave him to tell Balak, the king of Moab. The false teachers of Jude’s time, as well as of today, are often greedy, money-loving, and ultimately uncaring charlatans who are only in “it” for whatever they can get out of it. This message is for all of us – not just in regards to greed within the ministry – but all greed. Greed is selfish and indicates a dependence on self and on material things rather than a dependence of the Lord God to provide all of our needs.
They are destroyed in Korah’s rebellion: During the exodus, Korah – a Levite – was displeased that Moses and Aaron were the ‘front and center guys in charge’. Korah felt that he and others were just as capable and as important, so Korah rallied together 250 other leaders and confronted Moses with his complaints. Moses responded by telling Korah that they would let the Lord decide. The next day everyone gathered together – Moses looked to Heaven and basically said, “Lord, show us who You have chosen to lead your people”. The ground shook, then it opened up under Korah and his family and co-rebels, swallowed them alive, and then closed back up on them. The people then were pretty convinced who was called to lead the Israelites.
The lesson here concerning the false teachers – and all of us for that matter – is that the Lord has established the governing authorities over us for His good purposes, so we are to submit to them as unto the Lord. They may not be good or godly leaders or bosses, but the Lord put them there to humble us, teach us, rebuke us, encourage us, gets us to pray – there are a multitude of reasons the Lord does what He does. All He asks you and I to do is to trust and obey.
Remember, this coming Sunday, I will be sharing a special message on the saving grace of God. This will be an important message….round up everyone you know that needs to hear the Gospel presented clearly!