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Why does Michael say, “The Lord rebuke you” (Jude 1:9)?

the Lord rebuke you

In the short and often overlooked epistle of Jude, the archangel, Michael, says to the devil, “The Lord rebuke you” (Jude 1:9). The context of Michael’s rebuke of the devil was a dispute about the body of Moses. Jude does not provide further details about this dispute, but there are still things that we can learn from it.

To comprehend the weight of the Lord’s rebuke, we must examine the nature of the dispute between Michael and the devil. Jude simply states that Michael contended with the devil about the body of Moses. To complicate matters, this incident is not mentioned anywhere else in Scripture, leaving readers to speculate about the exact circumstances surrounding this spiritual contest.

A possible explanation lies in the importance of Moses, one of the most prominent prophets in the Old Testament. He is best remembered for leading the Israelites out of Egypt to the Promised Land. Additionally, he is credited with writing the first five books of the Bible (also known as the Pentateuch). Because of Moses’ prominence in God’s redemptive plan, the devil might have desired to defile or misuse the body of Moses. Michael, the archangel charged with defending God’s people (Daniel 12:1), guarded Moses’ body against Satan’s malevolent plans.

Michael’s response, “The Lord rebuke you” (Jude 1:9), reveals a profound theological truth about divine authority. Unlike human conflicts, spiritual battles are not fought with fists and swords. In 2 Corinthians 10:4, the apostle Paul makes this exact point: “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” The we applies just as much to angels as it does to humans. In other words, even Michael, a mighty angelic being, must submit to the divine power and authority of God to rebuke the devil.

Michael’s humility acknowledges that the power to confront and rebuke the devil comes from God alone. This echoes the biblical principle that all authority belongs to God (cf. Matthew 28:18), and even the most powerful angels do not operate outside of His sovereignty.

Michael’s words to the devil (Jude 1:9) resemble an encounter in the Old Testament. In the book of Zechariah, the high priest, Joshua, stands before the angel of the Lord while Satan accuses Joshua (Zechariah 3:1). In response, the Lord rebukes Satan with these words: “The Lord rebuke you, Satan!” (Zechariah 3:2). This parallel reinforces the scriptural teaching that believers should rely on God’s power and authority in the face of demonic opposition. It is the Lord alone who has authority over Satan.

The contention between Michael and the devil underscores the reality of spiritual warfare. Although the spiritual world is unseen, there is nevertheless an ensuing battle between cosmic forces who contend for our souls. To withstand the schemes of the devil, we must put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:11) and submit to God (James 4:7).

Jude uses the confrontation between Michael and Satan to underscore the need for humility in spiritual warfare. False teachers were infiltrating the church, and part of their deception involved speaking words against spiritual entities as if they had the authority to do so: “On the strength of their dreams these ungodly people pollute their own bodies, reject authority and heap abuse on celestial beings. But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’ Yet these people slander whatever they do not understand, and the very things they do understand by instinct—as irrational animals do—will destroy them” (Jude 1:8–10). Jude’s warning is against speaking contemptuously of spiritual powers that no one knows much about. The pride of false teachers leads them to such foolishness.

The Lord’s rebuke is not only a rebuff against the devil but is also a declaration of God’s supreme authority. Hence, Michael’s deference to the Lord’s authority models a posture that all believers should emulate in the face of spiritual warfare. As we contend with evil spiritual forces, may we never forget that victory comes not through our own strength, but in the strength of the Lord: “The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him” (Psalm 28:7, ESV).

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Why does Michael say, “The Lord rebuke you” (Jude 1:9)?
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This page last updated: April 11, 2024