Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.
Have you ever heard a person say to you that they believe there is a difference in “the God of the Old Testament” and “the God of the New Testament?” Or, have you ever heard people try to distinguish between the judging God of Old Testament times and the loving ways of Jesus? This is a tempting way to think at times, but it is also a completely false dichotomy.
Jude, writing to the church about the love and the judgment of God, has something very interesting to say in verse 5 of his little one-chapter-book. Jude is clear that it was Jesus who rescued the nation of Israel from Egypt. Remember, of course, that Jesus has always been. God the Son has been a part of the Holy Trinity for eternity. And it was apparently the work of the Son to bring God’s people up out of Egypt.
“Yes,” you say, “but that proves to us that Jesus is loving and maybe the Father is the judge.” But no, look at the end of verse 5. Jesus is also the One who, after rescuing the nation, “ from Egypt, “destroyed those who did not believe.” Jesus showed us the same pattern of both mercy and judgment that we have come to understand is part of the character of God.
What are we to conclude? Jesus is God. And there is no division among the persons of the Godhead. God the Father is loving and just. God the Holy Spirit is loving and just. Jesus, God the Son, is loving and just. When you see the judgment of God on people in the Old Testament, know that this is the action of a completely unified God. When you see the mercy of Jesus in the New Testament, see that this is the action of a completely unified God. When you see Revelation picture the return of Jesus in power and judgment, know that this is the same God as we see in the Old Testament declaring himself to be the gracious and compassionate One who will not let the guilty go unpunished. God is God, perfect in his mercy and never failing in his righteous judgment.
Lord, as I see your work described here in Jude, I worship you. Jesus, you were active in rescuing Israel from Egypt. This reminds me that you are God, worthy of my praise and my life. You showed your mercy, and I am grateful. At the same time, Jesus, you judged those who tried to receive your benefits, but who had not truly trusted you. I see your justice, and I praise you for it. Help me to have a genuine trust in you so that I might always be under your mercy.