The book of Jude highlights the sin and doom of godless men. Verses 3-16 have stories about “godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only sovereign and Lord” (v. 4 NIV). Verse 11 is central as it references the legacies of Cain, Balaam and Korah. These men are the focus of this article.
Jude 11 reads: “Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.”
Cain, Balaam and Korah are mentioned because they represent three specific kinds of sins found in the false teachers that had infiltrated the group to whom Jude was writing.
These three figures from redemptive history serve as reminders to all believers that sin can bring doom to anyone’s life. The same sinful attitudes that Cain, Balaam and Korah possessed can be found in the church today. What kind of legacy did they leave?
Cain: Cain represents a type of evil that comes from a careless attitude. Cain was the first child born of Adam and Eve. Cain was the first child born from a womb on Earth. Cain had a younger brother named Abel. Abel was righteous; Cain was unrighteous. Abel brought God an acceptable gift; Cain brought God an unacceptable gift. Cain became jealous of Abel and killed his brother.
This was the first murder on Earth. God said to Cain, “But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door” (Gen. 4:7). Cain was careless toward God and did not bring his best to worship; therefore, his gift was not accepted.
Cain was guilty of an unacceptable gift, a jealous spirit, premeditated murder, and bringing on his own separation from God.
Balaam: Balaam represents a type of evil that comes from a greedy attitude. The pursuit of wealth brought on his doom. Balak, King of Midian, hired Balaam the soothsayer to curse Israel.
Three times Balaam tried to curse Israel, but God would not allow it. Numbers 23:8 reads: “How can I curse those whom God has not cursed?” Those whom God blesses cannot be cursed.
The love of money all too often ensnares would-be Christians in the cares of this world. The cares of this world will choke the Word of God right out of a Christian (Matt. 13:22).
Korah: Korah represents a type of evil that comes from a rebellious attitude. Korah was a Levite, assigned to help Aaron and his sons who were priests. Levites are servants to the priests; they “do the work at the Lord’s tabernacle and stand before the community and minister to them” (Num. 16:9).
Korah, Dathan and Abiram, with 250 Israelite men rose up against Moses and Aaron. They rebelled against God’s authority.
Cain, Balaam and Korah doomed themselves to destruction. What kind of legacy will you leave?
Dr. Melvin Woodard is pastor of New Salem Missionary Baptist Church.