They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.
Part of America seems to idolize the defiant.
Raised fists; loud voices and sneering faces show up on news clips and Facebook pages. Some claim this is part of America’s heritage. After all, did not our nation come into being by defying the rule of Britain? Are we not heirs of a rebellion?
We are. But not just because we are Americans. We can trace the roots of our rebellious spirit back to our first parents, who lived near the original Tigris and Euphrates.
We were born rebellious and defiant. It is part of our nature.
Should we not, at times, rebel against some expectations and defy certain threats?
Absolutely! We sing the words, “Death, I now defy thee. Fear, I bid thee cease.”
We mean that. The death and resurrection of the Son of God give us the freedom to overcome the powers of sin, of death, and of the devil. These enemies of peace and joy have been conquered. We claim victory over them in the name of Jesus. We defy them.
We do not, however, challenge the rule of our Creator and Savior God. The Holy One of Israel warns us against those who do.
The Book of Jude contains only one chapter. Jude identifies himself as “a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James.” This James is not John’s brother, the fisherman, but the writer of the Epistle of James. He is identified as a physical half-brother of Jesus. Thus, so is Jude.
By inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Jude writes to warn early Christians against men who had slipped in among them, claiming to speak for Jesus, but they did not. Jude wrote, “They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.”
He reminds his readers of angels who rebelled and were sentenced to hell. He points to the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah, who defied the Sixth Commandment the Lord had decreed. Defying God leads to a horrible end.
Such false leaders are to be condemned. They are called shepherds who only feed themselves instead of their flocks. They are like clouds without rain and trees that bear no fruit—and then are uprooted, thus twice dead.
We begin to get the picture that they can offer the Christian nothing of value despite their claims or popularity. They should not be listened to. They should not be followed.
Then, the Holy Spirit pictures their deadly defiance by comparing them to wild waves and wandering stars. This strange comparison packs a punch when we stop to think about it.
Nature is controlled by its Creator. The Lord tells of his rule over oceans when he sets boundaries by telling the waves “This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt” (Job 38:11).
We remember Jesus giving commands to wind and waves on the Sea of Galilee. And then, there was the flood in Noah’s day and the command of God to the waters to rise and then recede.
He labels defiant waves as wild waves. He says they foam up to their shame.
He declares that the stars are to shine (Jeremiah 31:33), determines their number, and calls them out by name (Psalm 147:4).
A wandering star is one that goes off track from the path that God has laid down.
For such, the warning is issued: “blackest darkness has been reserved forever.”
We probably never thought of that; we never expected the Lord God to take such action. But he did, and he will.
The Lord is serious about anyone or anything defying his commands.
So, why would we ever listen to someone who tells us to go against him?
We are on the alert for those who would defy the Almighty.
Our souls know he paid the price of our rescue. We bow our heads in respect, appreciation, and obedience.
Death and the devils we defy.
The Lord of life we serve—gladly.
Lord Jesus, who died that we may live, grant unto us the clear realization that serving you is no loss of freedom, and defying you is loss of everything good. Keep us on the narrow path. Deliver us from all evil. Amen.
Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.