In preparation for my upcoming Guatemala blogging trip next month, I’ve been reading the wonderful book Geography of Grace by Kris Rocke and Joel Van Dyke. It opens by talking about the horrific story of Judges 19, where a nameless woman who is no more than a sex-slave, is given to a gang of men who gang rape her all night. She is then dismembered while still alive and the parts of her body are mailed to the twelve tribes of Israel. I found these lines so beautiful and redemptive in the just of such darkness.
When reading Judges 19 with a sanctified imagination, it is as if we become the disciples of Jesus on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24. This passage tells of the disciples’ long walk with the stranger who is suddenly revealed as Jesus when he reenacts that meal on the night that he was betrayed. Just as the stranger is revealed to be Jesus in the breaking of the bread, so too is the unnamed woman revealed to be Jesus in the breaking of her body.
“Just as you have done it to the least of these . . . ”
lf we reflect long enough on the heart of the unnamed Woman [of Judges 19], We will come to know not only her heart, but her name as well. We will dare to give her the dignity of a name that she has been denied for more than three thousand years. We will even dare to name her the name above all others.
As grace flows downhill and pools up in Judges 19, We are confronted with what looks like a cesspool. It is offensive and scandalous beyond words, but if we can hold our gaze long enough and reflect on the Woman, she teaches us a hard but liberating truth-that she was not alone in her abandonment. She was not alone when she was handed over to the mob. She was not alone when she was gang-raped and beaten that night. She alone was not cut into twelve pieces and handed out to Israel. God was with her that night. God too was abused, beaten, raped, and dismembered. Where is God? God is with us, particularly among the least. Immanuel.