Trees, Waves and Stars

I. Jude continues to describe the ungodly men as “trees whose fruit withers.”

A. This analogy has a strong parallel in the Old Testament.

1. It is used to warn disobedient Israel (Ezekiel. 17:1-10)

a. The great eagle is Nebuchadnezzar (vs. 3, 12-14).
b. The lesser eagle is Egypt (vs. 7, 17).
c. The vine of low stature is Zedekiah (vs. 4-6, 14-16).
1) He had been placed on his brother’s throne by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24:17) and required to “swear by God” to uphold Babylon (2 Chronicles 36:13).
2) He had broken this oath and allied with Egypt although God had warned him not to (Jeremiah 37:1-10).
3) He incurred the wrath of God for “breaking the covenant” (Ezekiel 17:18-19).
d. The contrasting parable (Ezekiel 17:22-24) shows the “godly cedar” planted by the Lord Himself.

2. It is contrasted most vividly by Psalm One (Psalm 1:1-4).

a. The strength of the righteous is contrasted with the weakness of the ungodly (compare Jeremiah 17:5-6).
b. The success and stability of the righteous is contrasted with the ungodly.

B. This analogy is amplified in detail by Scripture.

1. The term “withers” (phthinoporinos) is unusual.

a. It is only used this one time.
b. It means “to wane,” as a day wanes (grows late).

2. The parallel “withered-tree” examples use another term (xeraino).

a. Christ cursed a fruitless fig tree (Matthew 21:19; Mark 11:20-21).
b. Seeds sprout, then wither because they have no root (Matthew 13:6) or no moisture (Luke 8:6).
c. Branches of the Vine wither when, because of no fruit, they are pruned from the Vine (John 15:6).

3. The concept of “fruitlessness” is often discussed in Scripture.

a. It is a result of a “choked” word (Matthew 13:22; Mark 4:19).
b. It is a result of the “works of darkness” (Ephesians 5:11).
c. It is a result of not maintaining “good works” (Titus 3:14).
d. It is a result of Christian stagnation (2 Peter 1:8).

4. The picture of “twice dead” people is clarified by Scripture.

a. The “first” death is our sinful condition (Ephesians 2:1).
b. The “second” death is eternity in the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8; 20:6). 
c. Note: It is possible that Jude could be referring through hyperbole to the total sinful condition of these ungodly people.

5. The end of these “trees” is to be “plucked up by the roots.”

a. They are not “planted” by the Father (Matthew 15:13).
b. They are to be “rooted out” at Christ’s return (Matthew 13:24-30).

II. Jude further describes the ungodly men as “raging waves” and “wandering stars.”

A. The first analogy focuses in on their potential for evil.

1. The symbol of “wild waves” is always connected to uncontrollable, potentially harmful activity (Mark 4:37; Acts 27:41).

2. The “sea” symbol is most often used to designate the nations (Isaiah 5:26, 30; Isaiah 57:20; Daniel 7:2-3, 17).

3. The idea of “foaming” is parallel to demon activity (Mark 9:18-20).

4. The “shame” that pours out of these “wild waves” is destructive.

a. It is couched in secretive evil acts (Ephesians 5:12).
b. It is motivated by their base instincts (Philippians 3:19).
c. It is self-deceptive (Revelation 3:17-18).

B. The second analogy suggests that these ungodly men sometimes play a leadership role among God’s people.

1. The “star” terminology, when used of people, seems to refer to the teachers/leaders of God’s people (Revelation 1:16, 20; 3:1).

2. The “wandering” aspect is connected to false teaching.

a. Such activity is called “seducing” spirits (1 Timothy 4:1).
b. Such activity is called a “deceiver” and an antichrist (2 John 7).

 C. The end of these ungodly men is “the blackness of darkness forever.”

1. There is contrast in the judgment of the godly versus the ungodly.

a. We are “reserved” blameless (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
b. We are “reserved” an incorruptible, undefiled inheritance (1 Peter 1:4).
c. They are “reserved” to chains and darkness (2 Peter 2:4).
d. They are “reserved” to the day of judgment (2 Peter 2:9).
e. They are “reserved” for the mists of darkness (2 Peter 2:17).

2. There is an awesome “darkness” in store for the ungodly.

a. It is “outer darkness” (Matthew 8:12).
b. It produces “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 22:13; 25:30).
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