DIG: What role does the LORD play in the believer’s security and sense of joy? How does He guard and keep us safe from apostasy? How do you explain this picture of ADONAI keeping us safe, with the contrasting one in Jude 5-7? How are believers to be presented to God the Father? What is the Shechinah glory?
REFLECT: In light of the warnings in Jude, what hope do you find in this verse? How do you feel, knowing that you are in Christ (Ephesians 1:1-14)? How do you feel, knowing that the Savior is the One who is able to keep you from stumbling? How does that help as you struggle with evil in the world?
To the One who is able to keep you from stumbling and set you without defect and full of joy in the presence of His Shechinah glory (24 CJB).
Jude ends his letter the way it began, with words of assurance for ADONAI’s people living in dark days. Will you be able to keep yourself in the love of God? Can you avoid contamination in your contacts with the ungodly? Is it possible for you to continue to be one of the called, loved and kept (Jude 1)? The answer is made crystal clear in the Fourteenth triad. You can do so, because the One who loves you and gave Himself for you is also able to keep you from stumbling.
First, to the One who is able to keep you from stumbling (24a CJB). Not only is He willing to keep us, He is able (Romans 16:25; Ephesians 3:20; John 17:20-23). It is true that Jude told his original audience to keep themselves in the love of God (Jude 21), but he uses a different word for keep here. There, tereo is used, which simply means to watch out for. Here, plulasso is a military word and means to be kept under guard for safe custody. There is a difference. We must watch that we stay close to the Lord, but only He can guard us so that we do not stumble. God is at His post, standing guard over us to ensure our safety (Psalm 12:7; Proverbs 3:26; First Corinthians 1:8-9) during any assault from the enemy (First John 5:18). He is the One who keeps us from stumbling into apostasy. As Yeshua, the Good Shepherd told His listeners: My sheep hear My voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one (John 10:27-29).
From stumbling is aptaiseos, from the root ptaio, meaning to stand firm, not stumbling. This word is used both to describe a horse that is sure footed, and a person who does not fall into error. He will not let your foot slip – He who watches over you will not slumber (Psalm 121:3). To walk with ADONAI is to walk in safety even on the most dangerous and the most slippery path. In mountaineering, climbers are roped together so that, even if the inexperienced climber should slip, the skilled mountaineer can take the weight and save the other person. In the same way, when we bind ourselves to the LORD, He keeps us safe.127 Despite all the dangers and pitfalls, against apostate teachers and all the deceptions that the devil has for us. He holds us in the palm of His hand, safe and secure, never failing to guard us from stumbling.
Humanly speaking, the path to heaven has always been dangerous (Acts 14:22; Second Corinthians 6:4-10, 11:23-30; Hebrews 11:32-40; Revelation 12:10-11), full of dangers from the Adversary and his apostate servants (Luke 22:31; Ephesians 6:11-17; First Thessalonians 2:18, 3:5; First Peter 5:8-9). But from the LORD’s perspective, the path to heaven is absolutely safe, not because we are able to preserve ourselves, but because ADONAI is able to keep us.128 Victory over apostasy is found in Jesus Christ! Our faithfulness until the end will not be due to our own nobility or inner strength. It is the grace of God that keeps us from stumbling. He grants us the ability to stand before Him blameless and joyful on the last day.
Second, And to present you without defect and full of joy (24b CJB). The Greek word to present you translates the verb histemi, which can mean, to stand, to confirm or to establish. At this time we stand in grace (Romans 5:1-4), but in the future we will also stand in our new glorified bodies (Colossians 3:4 and First Peter 5:10). However, for people in their natural bodies to stand in the presence of the LORD produces sheer terror. Isaiah pronounced a curse on himself (Isaiah 6:5), Ezekiel fell over like he was dead (Ezekiel 1:28). Peter, James and John experienced overwhelming fear on the Mountain of Transfiguration. The apostle John fainted as if he were dead when he saw the vision of the risen and glorious Messiah (Revelation 1:17). Having come face-to-face with ADONAI, each of these men instantly felt the full weight of their own sinfulness. When Simon Peter saw [the large number of fish in their nets], he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the number of fish they had taken (Luke 5:8-9). Each fell to the ground, overwhelmed by the sense of unworthiness.129
To be presented to God the Father, we must be without defect (amomos). This word is used of sacrificial animals that bore no spot or blemish and were therefore fit to be offered to ADONAI (Exodus 29:1, 38; Leviticus 1:3, 10, 3:1, 6, 4:3; Numbers 6:14; Ezekiel 43:22-23, 25). The word is frequently used in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the TANAKH), and is often found in the writings of the Church Fathers with relation to God. Peter uses amomou to indicate the absolute sinlessness of Christ, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (First Peter 1:18-19).
A characteristic of genuine saving faith is that it endures. Whoever stands firm to the end will be saved (Matthew 24:13). Yeshua Messiah will present you to His Father without defect and full of joy – both for Himself and for you (Hebrews 12:2 and First Peter 1:8). When the blemish of sin is gone we will rejoice in our sinless state before ADONAI with great joy (agalliasei). This is the word used by an angel who announced to Zacharias: Your wife will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a delight (agalliasis) to you (Luke 1:13b-14a). The word occurs again in Acts 2:46 to describe how believers broke bread and ate together in their homes with great joy (agalliasei). We see the verb form in First Peter 1:8, where Kefa describes our reaction when the Lord returns. We will be filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy. Therefore, God the Son will be able to present you to God the Father without defect and full of joy at the Rapture when we are taken up to heaven (see my commentary on Revelation By – The Rapture of the Church).
Because the apostates deny Jesus Christ our only Master and Lord (Jude 4), and scoff at His return (see Aw – Remember What Our Lord Jesus Christ Foretold: There Will Be Scoffers Who Follow Ungodly Desires), they shut themselves out from all joy and unwittingly seal their ultimate doom as they appear before Him at the Great White Throne Judgment. While believers are safely in heaven in His presence, the Tribulation apostates will call out to the mountains and the rocks: Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of our wrath has come (see my commentary on Revelation Cq – The Sixth Seal: The Sun Turned Black Like Sackcloth).
Third, In the presence of His Shechinah glory (24c CJB). And we shall rejoice because no fault will be found in us. We are in Christ (Ephesians 1:1-14), and therefore found to be without defect (amomos). We are a part of the Blameless One, a Lamb without blemish or defect (1 Peter 1:19). What an amazing thing that in Messiah we can be amomos, and be a perfectly acceptable offering to ADONAI. God is able to make us stand in the presence of His Shechinah glory (see Isaiah Ju – The Glory of the LORD Rises Upon You), though in ourselves we should shrink away from His presence. He has no charge against those who are accepted in His spotless Son, and if God is for us, who can be against us (Romans 8:31b)? This is indeed great cause for great joy (agalliasei).130
Jude probably had his faithful readers in mind when he wrote this blessing. After all the pressure of contending for the faith in the wicked age to come, they can be seen standing before ADONAI like perfect sacrifices in His heavenly Temple. As if with one voice, they sing in the presence of His Shechinah glory: Then John confirmed: I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like the sound of peals of thunder, shouting:
Hallelujah! For ADONAI, God of heaven’s armies (CJB), has begun His reign!
Let us rejoice and be glad (agalliomen)
and give Him glory;
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and His bride has made herself ready (Revelation 19:6-7).