Michael, Satan and the body of Moses

The book of Jude was written to warn believers about false teachers. Jude is pronounced “Yehudah” in Hebrew and it is where the word “Jew” (Yehudi) comes from. That is significant to understand. The book contrasts what happens to those who disbelieve the Word of God, and that includes the Torah, called the books of Moses, or just Moses in the New Testament given to the Jews (Yehudim) at Mt Sinai. 

Jude wants people to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. The Torah, Prophets and the Writings, called the “old” testament” is the only “Bible” that Jude had. He wanted people to be Torah observant, and faith is action and confidence in what the Lord has said. You don’t gain righteousness by observing the commandments, you never did, but it was the way in which the Lord wants believers to walk. A picture of this is seen in the Exodus. Istsel was drlivered and redeemrd first, then they went to Sinai to receive the Torah.

The first century believers were Torah observant and it has always been a part of God’s plan. Jude talks about what happened to the angels who rebelled against the Word of God and how they are in darkness (the power of their sin and not understanding the truth) and they will be judged in the future. Sodom and Gomorrah is another example he uses. Starting in v 8 he says that people still rebel and revile the Lord, even after all this evidence. How does that apply today? By saying that the Law has been “done away with” and that “the Sabbath has been changed to Sunday” for instance.

False doctrine today is no different than false doctrine in the first century. Nobody sees their false doctrine as false. Nobody sees their teachers as false teachers. It was no different in Jude’s day and that is his point. The false teachers in Jude’s day were no different than the false teachers 2000 years before in Sodom, and no different than the angels who fell 2000 years before that. They may have committed a different sin, but it doesn’t matter. They didn’t believe what the Lord had said.

People who believe that the Law has been done away with, that the Church has replaced Israel and follow replacement theology, don’t believe the Lord, it’s just that simple. Even the Messiah they believe in doesn’t resemble the one revealed in the Scriptures, in that he was Torah observant and told others to be as well.

Many so-called believers will tell you that their Messiah believes that the Law has been done away with, even though he said he did not come to do away with the Torah or the Prophets. Jude says that these false teachers, by dreaming, defile the flesh and reject authority. The story in Jude about Michael the Archangel disputing with Satan over the body of Moses is not taught anywhere else in Scripture. It was around in some form during the first century but because that it is not mentioned is not unusual. Paul mentions Jannes and Jambres in 1 Tim 3.8, but they are not mentioned anywhere else. So what is going on in Jude?

This may be a figurative story, a parable, to illustrate what he has been saying up to this point. This technique is not unusual in Jewish writings. God’s ways will always be opposed by false teachers. The Torah is also known as “Moses” in the New Testament (Acts 21.21).  Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses to their own destruction and Gen 3.15 says that the serpent and the seed of the woman will have a struggle with each other, a dispute.

Satan wants to sit on the “mount of assembly (what Armageddon means) and that is where Satan wants to gather those who follow him (Isa 14.13; Rev 16.16). So, Michael (meaning “who is like God”) is symbolic of Yeshua, the seed of the woman. The “body of Moses” is the body of the Torah that the devil disputes over. He contested it in the Garden and has ever since. Jude introduces the story to illustrate that false teachers will “dispute” over Moses (Torah).

They do it today by saying the Sabbath has been done away with or that you are “free from the Law” and so on. The rest of the book of Jude goes on to describe false teachers and why they do it.  This story is used as an illustration, a parable, to show that false teachers (Satan) will dispute with Yeshua (Michael) about keeping the Torah (the body of Moses) and we should avoid this by remembering what happened to those in the past that did the same thing.

Posted in Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Understanding the New Testament

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