Wrestling With Scripture

In seminary, during the first year, we had to read the entirety of scripture. Beginning in Genesis 1 and finishing in Revelation, we read every book, every chapter, and every verse. And for a lot of it, we would also be assigned commentaries to read alongside of it. We didn’t necessarily go in any kind of discernable order, but we got through the whole thing in those two semesters.
And for the first time, I really had to wrestle with some parts of our scripture. Yes, there are verses of encouragement and hope and faithfulness and love, but there are also large sections focused on destruction, prophecy against God’s own people, heinous acts committed by people from foreign nations as well as God’s own people.
For example, the book of Judges chronicles a period of time in which Israel “did evil in the eyes of the Lord,” and “did what was right in their own eyes.” Throughout the book, it records the history through many judges who were called by God to bring the people back to God after falling into idolatry from the nations they didn’t wipe out as God commanded, a hard thing to understand by itself. And for a time during each judges’ reign, there were years of rest, but then they would descend further into disobedience each time.
By the end of the book, it tells the horrifying story of the Levite’s concubine. I won’t tell the story here, but it is recorded in Judges 19-21. Essentially the book ends with a murdered concubine, cut up into twelve pieces and being sent to the tribes of Israel to call together an army to go fight. It is a horrifying story that is recorded in our scriptures.
What do we do with that? Do we just ignore the hard things? Do we throw out the things that are inconsistent with the God we think we know? For me, the answer is no. There’s a reason they are contained in scripture, there is a reason why we are supposed to read them, and there is a reason we are supposed to struggle with them. I think it would be a disservice to us, to God, and to our faith to just discard them because they are hard to understand. But, this summer, as we dive into the minor prophets, I invite us to lean in and to let ourselves be uncomfortable so that we might listen for and hear the voice of God speaking through these prophets even today. It is going to be hard, there is going to be poetry that is hard to understand when translated from Hebrew to English, there are going to be depictions of God that might not sit well, but there is something there to be gleaned to increase our faith if we can just wrestle with God like Jacob.

- Hannah

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