(New American Standard Bible)
Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.
(New Living Translation)
What sorrow awaits them! For they follow in the footsteps of Cain, who killed his brother. Like Balaam, they deceive people for money. And like Korah, they perish in their rebellion.
Jude references three different people in the Old Testament in this one little verse...and it's not good news to be like them. Let's dig in and find what Jude is telling us.
- Woe to them! - is an exclamation of grief or denunciation. Jude is warning us. He even uses an exclamation point to drive home the importance of the next line.
- the way of Cain - Cain was the firstborn son of Adam and Eve. His life story is told in the book of Genesis, chapter four. If you're not familiar with it, you can read it here. Jude is reminding us of Cain's unbelief, his grain offering to God that was not given in faith, and his hatred of his righteous brother, Abel. The way of Cain is empty and filled with anger. You cannot gain the blessings of God when you choose this path.
- the error of Balaam - Balaam was a prophet (read more about him and a talking donkey! in Numbers 22.) who got caught up in greed. He was warned by God to turn away from the wealth offered to him, but Balaam followed his desire to please himself instead of God. In Balaam's zest for riches, he compromised not only his own heart, but even caused others to sin. His path of idolatry is an error we don't want to follow.
- the rebellion of Korah - Korah was a man who was filled with jealousy (his life story is found in Number 16.) over Moses' and his brother Aaron's positions of leadership in God's Temple. He incited other leaders, causing them to be jealous, too; and boldly challenged Moses' authority. Our LORD God settled the matter, by choosing exactly whom He wanted to lead His chosen people, Israel. Korah, along with the men who followed him, were swallowed up by the earth. Korah's refusing God's authority led him down the path of ultimate destruction: death.
Each man, a farmer, a prophet, and a leader, chose to feed their desires. The farmer, Cain, chose to hate. The prophet, Balaam, chose to worship greed. The leader, Korah, chose to deny God's authority. They, in essence, renounced God. Jude offers these examples as apostasy in action. He warns us to remind us Who is in control, and Whose path we should follow.
Rely on Him and follow His path for you today.
What stood out most to you in this verse?