When Noah was born, it was said he would comfort us concerning our work and toil. (Genesis 5:29) While this can be interpreted literally, (One can imagine Lamech thinking, "This son of mine will grown up and help on the farm. I could use some comfort from the work and toil.") In this case, I think the comfort "concerning our work and toil" means much more. It is relief from the one thousand years that have passed since the fall of man. It is the "toil" resulting from the curse, the "old world." (2 Peter 2:5) Somehow, Noah is about to change all that.
To some people, the Biblical story of creation is loaded with traps and controversy. Was it a literal six-day creation? If Adam and Eve were the only two people, who did their sons marry? Why did God refuse Cain's sacrifice? Some of these questions used to bother me, but I've learned a powerful argument that answers all of these questions satisfactorily and even encourages me to read more carefully.
So what makes a Christian a Christian? If Jesus died for everyone's sins and sinning apparently has no influence on our standing in God's eyes, it should seem like I've defined "Christian" to be the current state of humanity, not a religion you can choose to be a part of. Is there anything you can actually do to become a Christian? This is the central focus in "Part 2" of this study.
As a Christian, I stand behind some hard-to-swallow beliefs. How can I believe in a God that would let someone go to hell? How can I believe in a God that lets bad things happen to good people? If God is all-powerful, what does that say about our free will? And perhaps the worst of all: how can I call myself a Christian when self-proclaiming Christians have been behind such acts of judgement, intolerance, and hate?
I began studying Judges 19 with the goal of better understanding the gospel, or rather, to find a way in which such an objectionable story could underscore the gospel, if that was even possible. I think the parallel act of both Judges 19 and Genesis 19 illustrates that while both Sodom and Benjamin exhibited the same act of immorality, in Sodom we saw the inoccent protected by the intervention of God and the guilty destroyed at the hands of God, while in Israel, the inoccent is given up and the guilty are spared.
I asked a few people to explain this passage. I only ever found an answer that was – to me – expected and too simple: "This story exists to provide evidence of the state of Israel during its darkest times and to point to its need for a Savior." I don't think this answer addresses the question. The question is really, why is this amount of detail is included. There are plenty of passages that have a similar effect but omit the specifics. For example, Judges 12:1-16 (same book, only seven chapters earlier) ends with a civil war in which 42,000 Ephraimites were killed. (You will want to remember that, because it comes up later.) The cause of the civil war was merely that the Ephraimites asked Jepththah why he fought the Ammonites without calling them. Slaying 42,000 Ephraimites seems like a disproportional response, don't you think? It seems like some detail, something political, perhaps, may have been left out. But in Judges 20, when 25,000 Benjamites were slayed, the battle was clearly spurred by the outrage incited by the twelve pieces of the concubine that had been sent across Israel. Ultimately, what my question boils down to is: what is it about this particular event that requires a level of detail that similar stories omit? If I take Luke 24 literally, then it must be that this story of rape somehow points to Christ in a way that is so significant, it cannot be omitted. I need only to figure out why.