“[They are] raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame.” (Jude 1:13)
Jude connects together a string of 21 illustrations to describe the character of ungodly men who are attacking “the faith once delivered to the saints” (v. 3). This very poignant letter literally sizzles with scathing imagery for those who dare to stir up dissention and disobedience among God’s people.
The particular image in verse 13 is of roiling billows surging ashore after a storm, spitting out “shame” from amidst the foam. The physical picture is disgusting enough. As the energy of the storm increases the waves’ height and frequency, the detritus in and on the ocean is picked up and carried along. As the waves rise up toward the shore, they break and the foam begins to collect and then spew out the “shame” previously covered by the depths.
Isaiah’s comparison is most apt: “But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt” (Isaiah 57:20). The shame cast up by these raging waves is not just filthy but also damaging to those among whom the shame is dumped.
Paul warned the Corinthian church about those who dealt with “hidden things of dishonesty,” were “walking in craftiness,” or were “handling the word of God deceitfully.” In vivid contrast, Paul and his co-laborers openly displayed “the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 4:2). Like Jude, Paul forecasts only destruction for these kinds of people. They brag “in their shame” and have their mind set on “earthly things” (Philippians 3:19).
“Foaming” at the mouth is frequently connected with demonic oppression in Scripture (Mark 9:17-18; Luke 9:39; etc.). Medically, the symptom is seldom positive. Perhaps Jude is offering a glimpse of the devilish source of such “raging” and raising a further alarm. HMM III