What is the shape of blasphemy? Jude gives us a vivid yet dark picture of those who pervert grace into sensuality:
These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever. (Jude 12-13)
What depths of emptiness here. Jude piles on the metaphors, not too afraid to mix them in order to make it abundantly clear that false teaching smuggles death into a church. In his commentary on the book (TNTC), Michael Green summarizes, “They are as dangerous as sunken rocks, as selfish as perverted shepherds, as useless as rainless clouds, as dead as barren trees, as dirty as the foaming sea, and as certain of doom as the fallen angels.”
John Piper has given the illustration of the inverted mirror to help us see the ramifications of the fall. Made in God’s image to reflect his glory, we were created as mirrors at 45-degree angles, meant to receive the unhindered radiance of God’s glory and reflect it back up and out. In disobedience, we turn around to face the ground, however, and when you turn a mirror upside down, it does not reflect a light but casts a shadow on the ground. So in all idolatry we are worshiping the shadow cast by God’s glory rather than God himself.
Jude 12-13 shows us the blackest of shadows. But even this shadow tells us something about the light. As in the parable of the prodigal son, the antithesis is conspicuous by its absence! In our back-turning to God’s radiance, we have put our noses to the ground, chasing like sniffing dogs after scents and wisps of promise that don’t deliver (Jude 10). If in repentance we would turn our mirrors back to the source of the great light, what would we see?
In stark contrast to this darkness at each of its points stands Christ, the radiance of God’s glory (Hebrews 1:3) in the brightness of his eternal excellence:
We see the visible rock of refuge, the rock higher than ourselves, the stone carved from the mountain that smashes kingdoms (Daniel 2), the strong tower and safe refuge, the rock upon which if we are shipwrecked it is for our good and security.
We see the Good Shepherd who cares for the sheep at all times, who feeds the sheep of his own flesh!
We see the glory of God not in some thin vaporous mist, but in the pillar of cloud leading the sons of God through the wilderness, the cloud full and brimming with living water.
We see the commander of the winds, the sender and the stopper of them.
We see the true vine in whom there is life abundant, who was once dead, now up-risen in glory and vindication.
We see who walks upon the waves and calms the storms.
We see the bright morning star, the blazing sun of righteousness for whom the brightness of brightest glory has been reserved forever.
How great the light that casts the shadow!