When God's Word is Really Hard to Read

I really love reading the Bible but sometimes I come across passages of scripture that I struggle to read and struggle to know what to do with.

Recently, I was reading one such passage in Judges 19 and I was once again confronted and quite frankly sickened by what I was reading. You might know the story that I am referring to... it is a well-known story that many people hostile towards Christianity like to highlight in arguing that God is not loving, just and good at all. I am referring to the story of Simeon the Levite and his concubine (you can read the full story in Judges 19).

Here's the long and the short of the story: a Levite is travelling with his concubine when he stops in a town called Gibeah and plans to spend the night in the town square before he is invited to stay the night at the home of an older man. When in the older man's home, a pack of 'wicked men' come and bang on the door of the older man's house, desiring to have sex with the Levite. The older man tries to reason with the men but they don't listen, and the Levite spares himself by sending out his concubine to the men, who rape the woman, who tragically dies because of the horrific ordeal she endures during the night.

The Levite wakes up the next day, opens the door, discovers the body of his concubine on the doorstep, and then places her body on his donkey before travelling home. When home, he cuts the body of his concubine up into twelve pieces and sends the twelve pieces to each of the twelve tribes of Israel.

I'm sure you are with me when I say that this is one of the most horrific, brutal, and evil stories that I have ever come across!

You might - like me - read something like this and think to yourself... why did God want this story to be included in His divine Word? For that matter... why did God choose to include the majority of the stories that are outlined in the book of Judges? Judges is a book full of evil act after evil act! Why include stories like those found in Judges?

As the Bible Project team suggest in their introductory video to the book of Judges, the entire book of Judges is pointing to and illustrating (in very graphic and bloody ways!) what happens to mankind when they reject God and His ways and choose to live life without God as their King.

This is why God divinely inspired the writers of scripture to include stories such as this in the Bible... they are included not as prescriptive examples for us to follow and do in following God, but descriptive stories that serve to warn us about the dangers associated with living our lives without Jesus as our King.

So, when you come across terrible stories like the one from Judges 19 in God's Word, resist the urge to quickly flip the page in disgust, and instead choose to take a purposeful step back and try to discern the 'big picture' lesson that God is trying to impart to you.

Even the most terrible stories that are found in God's Word can be powerful tools that God can use to shape and refine us as His followers!


Ps Joel Hawting

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