Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.
Woe unto them! Jude is using this expression to vocalize his grief over these corrupt men. these men have followed the path of Cain, ran after selfish profit as Balaam, and perished as those who rebelled with Korah. Jude mentions three situations that help illustrate the true heart of a false teacher.
Cain – Genesis 4:1-15; Hebrews 11:4; 1 John 3:12
Balaam – Numbers 22-25; 2 Peter 2:15; Revelation 2:14
Korah – Numbers 16:1-35
We all know the story of Cain and Abel. These brothers bring sacrifices to present to God and God is pleased with Abel’s and not Cain’s sacrifice. Cain becomes angry and kills his brother in a rage of jealousy. Keep in mind these are the sons of Adam and Eve. When Adam and Eve sinned against God an animal was killed to cover their sins. Cain would have been informed on what God had done to cover their sins and what sacrifies pleased him. When they brought these sacrifices the expectations where clearly known. In verse 7 God states that if Cain would have been obedient he would have been accepted. Cain ignored God’s instruction and therefore his sacrifice was not pleasing to God.
Secondly we read about Balaam, a prophet we have all heard about due to his popularity in scripture. Balaam was called upon by Balak, the king of Moab, to curse the Israelites. God spoke to Balaam instructing him to only speak as he willed him. When Balaam left to go see the Israelites with the Moabites God became angry with him. As a result God allowed his donkey to talk to him and allowed him to see the angel blocking his path. As we see later in the narrative that after Balaam blesses Israel three times that the Israelites became sexually involved with the Moabites. According to Numbers 31:16 Moses makes it clear that Balaam told the Moabites how to seduce the Israelites to sin. If Balak couldn’t curse God’s people he would seek to unite them through sin and in turn distract Israel from clearing the land of their enemies. In 2 Peter 2:15-16 and Revelation 2:14 we see that God had rebuked Balaam because of his evil intentions and that he restrained “the madness of the prophet.”
Thirdly Jude mentions the rebellion of Korah in Numbers 16. Korah was a Levite who was in charge of the tabernacle. Korah and some of the other men rebelled against Moses’s leadership. God had placed Moses as the leader of the Israelites and Korah was challenging Gods order. Moses then allows these men to see who God wanted to lead the people by lighting torches. God wanted to kill everyone with Korah but Moses prayed that God would spare them so God strikes down Korah, Dathan, and Abiram with their family’s. These three men lead the rebellion and were the objects of God’s wrath. This was setup as an example that when God placed Moses in charge the Israelites needed to obey him.
These three examples Jude uses exemplifies false teachers rejection of Gods:
In each case those who reject God suffer separation and death. False teachers have a selfish intent to mislead and/or mistreat God’s people and plan. As Christians we need to face these people with truth and prayer. Approaching those rejecting God with his truth may soften their heart to the gospel or it will only push them closer to judgment. Know the word of God and present it to false teachers in a loving manner praying that God would have mercy on them.
With Great Love and Truth,