“Be Courageous and Very Strong”
“Be courageous and very strong . . . Jehovah your God is with you.”—JOSH. 1:7-9.
HOW WOULD YOU RESPOND?
In what ways did Enoch and Noah display courage?
How were certain women of ancient times exemplary in faith and courage?
What examples of youthful courage impress you?
1, 2. (a) What is sometimes needed to pursue an upright course in life? (b) What are we going to examine?
COURAGE is the opposite of fear, timidity, and cowardice. We may think of a courageous person as one who is strong, valiant, even bold. At times, however, quiet courage is needed in order to pursue an upright course in daily life.
2 Some people of Bible record were fearless under very trying conditions. Others displayed courage in circumstances common to Jehovah’s servants in general. What can we learn from Biblical examples of courage? How can we be courageous?
COURAGEOUS WITNESSES IN AN UNGODLY WORLD
3. Enoch foretold what for the ungodly?
3 It took courage to be a witness of Jehovah among wicked ones on earth before the Flood of Noah’s day. Yet, Enoch, “the seventh one in line from Adam,” boldly delivered this prophetic message: “Look! Jehovah came with his holy myriads, to execute judgment against all, and to convict all the ungodly concerning all their ungodly deeds that they did in an ungodly way, and concerning all the shocking things that ungodly sinners spoke against him.” (Jude 14, 15) Enoch spoke in the past tense because that prophecy was sure to be fulfilled. And ungodly humans did perish in a global deluge!
4. Despite what circumstances did Noah ‘walk with God’?
4 The Flood occurred in 2370 B.C.E., over 650 years after Enoch’s prophetic ministry. Meanwhile, Noah was born, raised a family, and with his sons built the ark. Wicked angels had materialized fleshly bodies, mated with good-looking women, and fathered the Nephilim. Moreover, man’s badness had become abundant, and the earth was filled with violence. (Gen. 6:1-5, 9, 11) Despite such conditions, “Noah walked with the true God” and witnessed boldly as “a preacher of righteousness.” (Read 2 Peter 2:4, 5.) We need similar courage in these last days.
THEY DISPLAYED FAITH AND COURAGE
5. How did Moses display faith and courage?
5 Moses had exemplary faith and courage. (Heb. 11:24-27) From 1513-1473 B.C.E., God used him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and direct them in the wilderness. Moses felt poorly equipped for this assignment, but he accepted it. (Ex. 6:12) He and his brother, Aaron, repeatedly appeared before tyrannical Pharaoh of Egypt and courageously announced the Ten Plagues by which Jehovah disgraced Egyptian gods and delivered His people. (Ex., chaps. 7-12) Moses displayed faith and courage because he had God’s unfailing support, even as we do.—Deut. 33:27.
6. If we are interrogated by secular authorities, how will we be able to bear witness with courage?
6 We need courage like that of Moses, for Jesus said: “You will be haled before governors and kings for my sake, for a witness to them and the nations. However, when they deliver you up, do not become anxious about how or what you are to speak; for what you are to speak will be given you in that hour; for the ones speaking are not just you, but it is the spirit of your Father that speaks by you.” (Matt. 10:18-20) If we are interrogated by secular authorities, Jehovah’s spirit will enable us to bear witness respectfully with faith and courage.—Read Luke 12:11, 12.
7. Why was Joshua courageous and successful?
7 Regular study of God’s Law built up the faith and courage of Moses’ successor, Joshua. In 1473 B.C.E., Israel was poised to enter the Promised Land. “Be courageous and very strong,” God commanded. By complying with the Law, Joshua would act wisely and would be successful. “Do not suffer shock or be terrified,” he was told, “for Jehovah your God is with you wherever you go.” (Josh. 1:7-9) How those words must have strengthened Joshua! And God certainly was with him, for the major conquest of the Promised Land was completed in only six years—by 1467 B.C.E.
VALIANT WOMEN WHO TOOK THEIR STAND
8. What example of faith and courage do we have in Rahab?
8 Through the centuries, many courageous women have taken their stand as valiant worshippers of Jehovah. For instance, the prostitute Rahab of Jericho exercised faith in God, courageously concealing two spies sent out by Joshua, and then misdirecting the henchmen of that city’s king. She and her household were preserved when the Israelites took Jericho. Rahab abandoned her sinful profession, worshipped Jehovah faithfully, and became an ancestress of the Messiah. (Josh. 2:1-6; 6:22, 23; Matt. 1:1, 5) How she was blessed for her faith and courage!
9. How did Deborah, Barak, and Jael show courage?
9 After Joshua’s death about 1450 B.C.E., judges administered justice in Israel. Canaanite King Jabin had oppressed the Israelites for 20 years when God had the prophetess Deborah motivate Judge Barak to take action. Barak assembled 10,000 men on Mount Tabor and was ready to engage in battle with Jabin’s military chief Sisera, who entered the torrent valley of Kishon with his army and its 900 war chariots. When the Israelites marched into the valley plain, God caused a flash flood that turned the battlefield into a quagmire and immobilized the Canaanite chariots. Barak’s men prevailed, and “all the camp of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword.” Sisera himself sought refuge in the tent of Jael, but she killed him while he slept. In line with Deborah’s prophetic words to Barak, “the beautifying thing” of this victory went to the woman Jael. Because Deborah, Barak, and Jael acted courageously, Israel “had no further disturbance for forty years.” (Judg. 4:1-9, 14-22; 5:20, 21, 31) Many godly men and women have displayed similar faith and courage.
OUR WORDS CAN INSPIRE COURAGE
10. Why can it be said that our words can inspire courage?
10 What we say can inspire courage in fellow worshippers of Jehovah. In the 11th century B.C.E., King David told his son Solomon: “Be courageous and strong and act. Do not be afraid nor be terrified, for Jehovah God, my God, is with you. He will not desert you or leave you until all the work of the service of Jehovah’s house is finished.” (1 Chron. 28:20) Solomon acted courageously and built the splendid temple of Jehovah in Jerusalem.
11. What effect did the courageous words of an Israelite girl have on one man’s life?
11 In the tenth century B.C.E., the courageous words of an Israelite girl proved to be a blessing for a leper. She had been captured by a marauding band and became a servant of the leprous Syrian army chief Naaman. Having learned about miracles that Jehovah performed through Elisha, she told Naaman’s wife that if her husband would go to Israel, God’s prophet would cure him. Naaman did go to Israel, was miraculously healed, and became a worshipper of Jehovah. (2 Ki. 5:1-3, 10-17) If you are a young person who loves God as that girl did, he can give you courage to witness to teachers, fellow students, and others.
12. How did the words of King Hezekiah affect his subjects?
12 Well-chosen words in times of peril can inspire courage. When the Assyrians marched against Jerusalem in the eighth century B.C.E., King Hezekiah told his subjects: “Be courageous and strong. Do not be afraid nor be terrified because of the king of Assyria and on account of all the crowd that is with him; for with us there are more than there are with him. With him there is an arm of flesh, but with us there is Jehovah our God to help us and to fight our battles.” How was that expression received? Why, “the people began to brace themselves upon the words of Hezekiah”! (2 Chron. 32:7, 8) Similar words may bolster our own courage and that of other Christians when we are being hounded by persecutors.
13. What example of courage do we have in King Ahab’s steward Obadiah?
13 Sometimes courage is shown by what we do not say. In the tenth century B.C.E., King Ahab’s steward Obadiah courageously hid a hundred prophets of Jehovah “by fifties in a cave” so that they would not be killed at the order of wicked Queen Jezebel. (1 Ki. 18:4) Like God-fearing Obadiah, many of Jehovah’s loyal present-day servants have courageously protected fellow believers by not giving persecutors information about them.
ESTHER—A COURAGEOUS QUEEN
14, 15. How did Queen Esther display faith and courage, and with what result?
14 Queen Esther displayed great faith and courage when a genocide plot hatched by wicked Haman imperiled the Jews throughout the Persian Empire in the fifth century B.C.E. No wonder they mourned and fasted and undoubtedly prayed with all their heart! (Esther 4:1-3) Queen Esther was greatly distressed. Her cousin Mordecai sent her a copy of the law authorizing the massacre and commanded her to appear before the king to implore favor for her fellow Jews. But anyone going in to the king when not summoned was put to death.—Esther 4:4-11.
15 Yet, Mordecai told Esther: ‘If you are silent, deliverance will come from another place. But who knows whether it is for a time like this that you attained royal dignity?’ Esther urged Mordecai to gather the Jews in Shushan and fast in her behalf. “I shall fast likewise,” she said, “and upon that I shall come in to the king, which is not according to the law; and in case I must perish, I must perish.” (Esther 4:12-17) Esther acted courageously, and the book bearing her name shows that God delivered his people. In our day, anointed Christians and their dedicated associates display similar courage under trial—and the “Hearer of prayer” is always on their side.—Read Psalm 65:2; 118:6.
16. What example do our youngsters have in Jesus?
16 On one occasion in the first century C.E., 12-year-old Jesus was found at the temple, “sitting in the midst of the teachers and listening to them and questioning them.” Moreover, “all those listening to him were in constant amazement at his understanding and his answers.” (Luke 2:41-50) Although he was young, Jesus had the faith and courage needed to question older teachers at the temple. Bearing in mind Jesus’ example will help youngsters in the Christian congregation to take full advantage of opportunities to ‘make a defense before everyone demanding a reason for their hope.’—1 Pet. 3:15.
17. Why did Jesus urge his disciples to “take courage,” and why do we need to act courageously?
17 Jesus urged others to “take courage.” (Matt. 9:2, 22) He told his disciples: “Look! The hour is coming, indeed, it has come, when you will be scattered each one to his own house and you will leave me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. I have said these things to you that by means of me you may have peace. In the world you are having tribulation, but take courage! I have conquered the world.” (John 16:32, 33) Like Jesus’ early followers, we face the world’s hatred, but let us not become like the world. Reflecting on the courageous course of God’s Son can give us courage to remain undefiled by this world. He triumphed over the world, and so can we.—John 17:16; Jas. 1:27.
“BE OF GOOD COURAGE!”
18, 19. The apostle Paul gave what evidence of faith and courage?
18 The apostle Paul endured many tests. On one occasion, Jews in Jerusalem would have torn him to pieces had Roman soldiers not rescued him. During the night, “the Lord stood by him and said: ‘Be of good courage! For as you have been giving a thorough witness on the things about me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness in Rome.’” (Acts 23:11) Paul did just that.
19 Paul fearlessly rebuked the “superfine apostles,” who sought to corrupt the congregation in Corinth. (2 Cor. 11:5; 12:11) Unlike them, he could point to proof of his apostleship—to imprisonment, beatings, perilous journeys, other dangers, hunger, thirst, and sleepless nights, as well as deep concern for fellow believers. (Read 2 Corinthians 11:23-28.) What a record of faith and courage—all of it proof of God-given strength!
20, 21. (a) Give an example showing that we must keep on mustering up courage. (b) Under what circumstances may we need to display courage, and of what can we be certain?
20 Not all Christians will experience severe persecution. Yet, all need to muster up boldness in order to meet the challenges of life. To illustrate: A young person in Brazil belonged to a gang. After studying the Bible, he saw the need to make changes, but usually anyone leaving the gang was killed. He prayed, and he used scriptures to show the leader why he could not stay in the gang. The young man was released without reprisals and became a Kingdom publisher.
21 Courage is required to preach the good news. Christian youths need this quality if they are to maintain integrity at school. It may take courage to request time off from secular work in order to attend all sessions of a convention. The list could go on and on. Regardless of the challenges we face, however, Jehovah will hear our ‘prayers of faith.’ (Jas. 5:15) And surely he can give us his holy spirit so that we can “be courageous and very strong”!
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Enoch preached courageously in an ungodly world
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Jael was courageous and strong