Herod Agrippa, grandson of Herod the Great of Jesus’ birth narrative, is the leader of the Roman Empire in Judah. And as a political animal, he tests the waters about these followers of “The Way” by taking one of their leaders, James the “Son of Thunder” and one of the 12 apostles, and killing him. Since the people seem to like that, he arrests an even bigger fish, Peter, with plans to do the same to him.
When we say “the people seem to like that,” we have to remember that this is Judah, a Jewish territory. And though Rome rules it, it is populated by Jews. In other words, it is the Jews who like the execution of James the Christian, and who inspire Herod to arrest and ultimately execute Peter.
But God has other plans for Peter. Herod has Peter arrested and guarded by 16 guards, a significant case of overkill. But God says, “Nope” and Peter is set free. Herod plans to kill the apostles but God says, “Nope” and no more are killed by Herod… ever. Herod claims the title of “god” from his people, but God says, “Nope” and rather than being worshiped, Herod is killed.
In other words, the moral of this story is that God cannot be opposed. Just try to go against God’s will, and He will foil your plans, leave you out of His, or worst of all, leave you to your own plans which, without Him, will lead to death. God cannot be opposed.
This is a hard truth. When we see so much evil, so much anti-God in this world, we can only suppose God has lost control. When death reigns and violence is worshiped, when children are separated by hundreds of miles from their parents for a misdemeanor, and the innocent suffer, what can we think but that God has lost it.
As a Spiritual Director, I am taught to observe rather than control, to trust the Holy Spirit to reign, but even with that it is very hard to trust that “God’s got this”. However, nobody said faith was easy. Nobody said faith would make things go my way or bring justice. Faith is hard, faith is illogical, but faith is mandatory for a relationship with God.