One of my best friends in the whole wide world (who happens to be an atheist/agnostic - we even debate the appropriate tag for him) asked me late last week about the relevance of Judges 19. He suggested that it adds nothing of any significance to the scripture, historical record, or served no sociological/ethical purpose or lesson that needed to be learned. I quickly reread Judges 19 while he paced in my office, and I then began explaining the symbolism of the coming dispersion as the result of Israel playing the harlot, yada, yada, yada. I was fairly sure I was correct in my on-the-fly interpretation, but I asked for time to study it out more.
Later that evening, I came across a reference to Hosea 9:9, "They have sunk deep into corruption as in the days of Gibeah." So, I skimmed Hosea and was confident it was key understanding Judges 19. I texted him back, "You need to read Hosea to fully understand Judges 19."
The next morning, during a phone call about other business, he mentioned to me that he had read Hosea, but that he was less interested in understanding a perceived internal explanation, and, rather, more interested in understanding its cultural and/or sociological significance and cross-cultural applications.
I explained the significance is in the repeating of history, from the individual account, to how it is replayed in the history of Israel, and, ultimately, to how it will play out spiritually in the Church at large.
This is obviously an abbreviated version of what has transpired over several days, but it has been a while since my friend and I have discussed anything Biblical so I'm excited. At the very least, he's reading the Bible, and I firmly believe:
...the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Heb 4:12)
I'm also convinced that the book of Habbakuk is important to the discussion, although I haven't quite put my finger on the exact connection yet. I know Judges 19 is tough, and I have not been completely satisfied with any other teachings I have come across on the subject. Do any of you have any thoughts on the matter?