“Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”
Jude dips back into the Old Testament once again to illustrate the principle of respect for authority. Although apostates disrespected all forms of authority (v. 8), yet Jude shows that Michael respected the authority even of Satan.
Michael the archangel,
God sent Michael the archangel (Da 10:13, 21; 12:1) to bury Moses’ body but the devil disputed with him over the body. The Bible never uses the plural “archangels” but only the singular “archangel.” There was only one archangel, one chief angel. In the New Testament, we find the word archangel only here and in 1 Thessalonians 4:16. The Bible arranges angels in systematic orders.
in contending with the devil,
Lucifer was the highest-ranking creation God made, but he turned devil. There is no story in the Old Testament where Michael fought with the devil over the body of Moses. There is a story in the pseudepigraphal book Assumption of Moses. The citation of this book caused some to question the inspiration of the book of Jude.
when he disputed about the body of Moses,
Israel buried Moses’ body in the valley of Moab.
dared not bring against him a reviling accusation,
Michael did not bring a “reviling accusation” against the devil. This stands in stark contrast to apostate pride. Michael respected the authority of Satan. Satan means slanderer, accuser. This is his role in the book of Revelation (Re 12:9,10).
but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”
Michael appealed to God’s authority rather than his own authority in dealing with the devil. All authority ultimately resides in God. The phrase “The Lord rebuke you” is a quote from Zechariah 3:2, where the Lord speaks these words to Satan’s accusation against Joshua the priest (Ze 3:1-10). Michael did not have the authority in himself to challenge Satan. He remembered the high estate of Lucifer’s original creation.
In contending with supernatural forces, we need to defer to God’s authority to deal with them.
Christians often try to fight spiritual battles in their own strength. There is a time when we need to put our spiritual struggle in the hands of the Lord. If the mighty Michael the archangel had to do this, so should we.
And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Re 12:7-9