God is with (us) always. His will prevails.
This is the overture, the repeating refrain and undercurrent of the readings. Judges: God gives land and victory to Judah. Victory was given before they even started, but there was still a fight.
1 After the death of Joshua, the Israelites asked the Lord, “Which tribe should go first to attack the Canaanites?”
2 The Lord answered, “Judah, for I have given them victory over the land.” Judges 1:1-2 NLT
(Israel, however, fails to conquer other lands.)
Jeremiah, the land is parched and cracked from drought, and a people suffer. False prophets paint a brighter picture and the Lord responds.
13 Then I said, “O Sovereign Lord, their prophets are telling them, ‘All is well—no war or famine will come. The Lord will surely send you peace.’”
14 Then the Lord said, “These prophets are telling lies in my name. I did not send them or tell them to speak. I did not give them any messages. They prophesy of visions and revelations they have never seen or heard. They speak foolishness made up in their own lying hearts. 15 Therefore, this is what the Lord says: I will punish these lying prophets, for they have spoken in my name even though I never sent them. They say that no war or famine will come, but they themselves will die by war and famine.” Jeremiah 14:14-15 NLT.
The apostles are imprisoned for speaking of Jesus. God makes a way for their escape, and the religious leaders find them back in the temple courts.
29 But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than any human authority. 30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead after you killed him by hanging him on a cross. 31 Then God put him in the place of honor at his right hand as Prince and Savior. He did this so the people of Israel would repent of their sins and be forgiven. 32 We are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit, who is given by God to those who obey him.”
33 When they heard this, the high council was furious and decided to kill them. 34 But one member, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, who was an expert in religious law and respected by all the people, stood up and ordered that the men be sent outside the council chamber for a while. 35 Then he said to his colleagues, “Men of Israel, take care what you are planning to do to these men! 36 Some time ago there was that fellow Theudas, who pretended to be someone great. About 400 others joined him, but he was killed, and all his followers went their various ways. The whole movement came to nothing. 37 After him, at the time of the census, there was Judas of Galilee. He got people to follow him, but he was killed, too, and all his followers were scattered.
38 “So my advice is, leave these men alone. Let them go. If they are planning and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God!”
40 The others accepted his advice. They called in the apostles and had them flogged. Then they ordered them never again to speak in the name of Jesus, and they let them go.
41 The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus. 42 And every day, in the Temple and from house to house, they continued to teach and preach this message: “Jesus is the Messiah.”
In Matthew, Jesus breathes the Great Commission.
18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 NLT.
And this is what I take away: There is victory in life, and fight–Judah fought; the apostles persevered through hardship. But if it is from God, He will make a way. His truth will prevail.
Lord, irritations pick at me lately. I find myself wanting to retreat–my heart tells me that’s the way to peace, and it sounds much like the empty visions of false prophets. But you tell us all to go and make, teach and obey–let my steps and my life proclaim in word and deed that you are the Messiah.