“Be courageous and strong. . . . Jehovah your God is with you.”
1, 2. (a) What qualities will help us to endure trials successfully? (b) What is faith? Give an example.
JEHOVAH’S service brings us joy. But we still have problems like everyone else. And we may suffer for doing what is right. (1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 Peter 3:14; 5:8, 9) To endure these trials successfully, we need faith and courage.
2 What is faith? The apostle Paul wrote: “Faith is the assured expectation of things hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities though not beheld.” (Hebrews 11:1) Another translation reads: “Faith is the title-deed to the things we hope for. Faith is being sure of things we cannot see.” (The Simple English Bible) A “title-deed” is a document that proves that a property belongs to us. Because we have faith that God always does what he promises, it is as if we have received a valuable “title-deed.” We are absolutely convinced that what God has promised will happen and that everything he tells us in his Word is the truth, even “things we cannot see.”
3, 4. (a) What is courage? (b) What is one way to strengthen our faith and courage?
3 Courage is the strength to speak and act without fear when we are in difficult and dangerous situations. To have courage is to be confident and brave, even willing to suffer for what we believe.
4 We may feel that we need more faith and courage. The Bible speaks of thousands of servants of God who were good examples of faith and courage. So one way to strengthen these qualities in us is to think carefully about some of those examples.
JEHOVAH WAS WITH JOSHUA
5. To be a good leader, what did Joshua need?
5 We can think of something that happened about 3,500 years ago. This was 40 years after Jehovah had delivered millions of Israelites from Egypt. The prophet Moses was their leader. He was 120 years old when he went to the top of Mount Nebo and saw the Promised Land. Then he died there on top of the mountain. The next leader of Israel was Joshua, a man “full of the spirit of wisdom.” (Deuteronomy 34:1-9) The Israelite army was ready to take the land of Canaan. To be a good leader, Joshua needed wisdom from God, faith, courage, and confidence.
Think carefully about the examples of those who showed faith and courage in Bible times and in our time
6. (a) According to Joshua 23:6, we need courage to do what? (b) What do we learn from the words of Acts 4:18-20 and Acts 5:29?
6 The wisdom, courage, and faith Joshua showed must have strengthened the Israelites during the many years they fought to take the land of Canaan. They needed courage not only to fight in battle but also to obey God. Just before Joshua died, he told them: “You must be very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses by never turning away from it to the right or to the left.” (Joshua 23:6) We too need courage to obey Jehovah at all times, especially when humans tell us to do something that is against God’s will. (Read Acts 4:18-20; 5:29.) If we pray for Jehovah’s direction and trust in him, he will help us to have the courage we need.
HOW YOU CAN “MAKE YOUR WAY SUCCESSFUL”
7. To act with courage and have success, what did Joshua need to do?
7 To have the courage needed to do God’s will, we must study his Word and do what it says. That is what Jehovah told Joshua to do when he took Moses’ place: “Be courageous and very strong to take care to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you.” He added: “This book of the law should not depart from your mouth, and you must in an undertone read in it day and night, in order that you may take care to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way successful and then you will act wisely.” (Joshua 1:7, 8) Joshua was successful because he followed that counsel. If we do the same, we will have greater courage and will be successful in God’s service.
Our yeartext for 2013: “Be courageous and strong. . . . Jehovah your God is with you.”
8. What scripture is the yeartext for 2013 taken from? How do you feel that those words will help you?
8 Jehovah next told Joshua: “Be courageous and strong. Do not suffer shock or be terrified, for Jehovah your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) Jehovah is with us too. So no matter what trials we may suffer, we do not need to be afraid. We are especially interested in the words: “Be courageous and strong. . . . Jehovah your God is with you.” Those words of Joshua 1:9 have been chosen as the yeartext for 2013. These words to Joshua and the example of others who showed faith and courage will give us great confidence in the months ahead.
THEY COURAGEOUSLY CHOSE TO DO GOD’S WILL
9. In what ways did Rahab show faith and courage?
9 When Joshua sent two spies into Canaan, Rahab the prostitute hid them and then sent their enemies in the wrong direction. Because of her faith and courage, she and her family survived when the Israelites destroyed the city of Jericho. (Hebrews 11:30, 31; James 2:25) Of course, Rahab abandoned her immoral life so that she could please Jehovah. Some who have become Christians have had the faith and courage to make similar changes in their lives so that they could please God.
10. In what situation did Ruth choose to worship Jehovah? How did Jehovah bless her?
10 Ruth, who was from Moab, lived after Joshua. She probably knew something about Jehovah because she had been married to an Israelite. She had the courage to worship Jehovah. Her mother-in-law, Naomi, had lived in Moab, and when her husband and sons died, she decided to return to Bethlehem, in Israel. On the road, Naomi told Ruth to return to her own people, but Ruth said that she would not turn back to Moab. Ruth said: “Your people will be my people, and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:16) In time, Ruth married Boaz, a man from Naomi’s family. They had a son and, from him, later came David and Jesus. It is clear that Jehovah blesses those who show faith and courage.
MANY RISKED THEIR LIVES!
11. How did Jehoiada and Jehosheba show courage? Because they acted courageously, what was the result?
11 Our faith and courage become stronger when we see that God is with those who risk their lives to do his will and to protect their brothers. For example, think of High Priest Jehoiada and his wife, Jehosheba. After King Ahaziah died, Athaliah, his mother, killed all the king’s children except Jehoash and made herself queen. But Jehoiada and Jehosheba saved Ahaziah’s son Jehoash and kept him hidden for six years, even though this was a dangerous thing to do. In the seventh year, Jehoiada made Jehoash king and ordered that Athaliah be killed. (2 Kings 11:1-16) Jehoiada later helped King Jehoash to repair the temple. Jehoiada died when he was 130 years old and was buried with the kings “because he had done good in Israel and with the true God and His house.” (2 Chronicles 24:15, 16) Because Jehoiada and his wife acted courageously, the family from which the Messiah would later come was kept safe.
To have courage, we must pray as well as study and obey God’s Word
12. How did Ebed-melech show courage?
12 Ebed-melech, a servant in the house of King Zedekiah, risked his life for Jeremiah. The princes of Judah told the king that Jeremiah was discouraging the soldiers and all the people. The king allowed them to do whatever they wanted with Jeremiah. So they threw him into a deep pit full of mud and left him there to die. (Jeremiah 38:4-6) Ebed-melech asked King Zedekiah to help Jeremiah. What Ebed-melech did was dangerous, since so many people hated Jeremiah. Zedekiah agreed to help and told Ebed-melech to take 30 men with him and get Jeremiah out of the pit. Through Jeremiah, God promised Ebed-melech that he would not die when the Babylonians attacked Jerusalem. (Jeremiah 39:15-18) God rewards those who show courage to do his will.
13. How did the three Hebrews show courage? What can we learn from their story?
13 About 600 years before Christ, three Hebrew servants of God were rewarded for showing faith and courage. King Nebuchadnezzar ordered that all important men of Babylon gather and worship a giant image of gold. Anyone who disobeyed would die in a fiery furnace. The three Hebrews respectfully told Nebuchadnezzar: “Our God whom we are serving is able to rescue us. Out of the burning fiery furnace and out of your hand, O king, he will rescue us. But if not, let it become known to you, O king, that your gods are not the ones we are serving, and the image of gold that you have set up we will not worship.” (Daniel 3:16-18) At Daniel 3:19-30, we can read the exciting account of how Jehovah saved the three Hebrews. We are probably not going to be threatened with death in a fiery furnace, but at times we do have to obey God in very difficult situations. We can be sure that God will bless us if we show faith and courage.
14. According to Daniel chapter 6, how did Daniel act courageously? What was the result?
14 Enemies of Daniel convinced King Darius to make a law that would harm Daniel. They told the king: “Whoever makes a petition to any god or man for thirty days except to you, O king, should be thrown to the lions’ pit.” Daniel showed faith and courage in this situation. As soon as he learned about that law, he “entered into his house, and, the windows in his roof chamber being open for him toward Jerusalem, even three times in a day he was kneeling on his knees and praying and offering praise before his God, as he had been regularly doing prior to this.” (Daniel 6:6-10) Daniel was thrown into a lions’ pit. But Jehovah saved him!
15. (a) How did Aquila and Priscilla show faith and courage? (b) What do Jesus’ words at John 13:34 mean? How have many Christians shown this kind of love?
15 The Bible says that Aquila and Priscilla risked their lives for Paul. (Acts 18:2; Romans 16:3, 4) They showed courage and did what Jesus commanded: “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (John 13:34) The Law of Moses required that a person love others as he loved himself. (Leviticus 19:18) So why was Jesus’ commandment “new”? Because it requires us to show love by being willing to give our life for others, as he did. Many Christians have shown love by risking their lives to protect their brothers from being hurt or killed by enemies.
16, 17. How was the faith of some of the first Christians tested? How has the faith of some Christians in our time also been tested?
Matthew 4:8-10) They refused to burn incense in honor of the Roman emperor. Daniel P. Mannix wrote in his book Those About to Die that an altar with a fire burning on it was usually kept in the arena. He said that all a prisoner had to do was sprinkle some incense on the flame and he would be freed. It was explained to the prisoner that he would not be worshipping the emperor. The prisoner was told that he would simply be agreeing that the Roman emperor was a god. Even so, very few Christians accepted this offer to escape.16 Like Jesus, the first Christians worshipped only Jehovah. (
17 Christians who were put in Nazi concentration camps were given several opportunities to be free again and avoid death. All they had to do was sign a document that said that they no longer worshipped Jehovah. But only a few signed. During a war in Rwanda, Tutsi and Hutu Witnesses risked their lives to protect one another. God’s people need courage and faith in situations like these.
REMEMBER, JEHOVAH IS WITH US!
18, 19. What Bible examples of faith and courage can help us to do the preaching work?
18 We now have the wonderful opportunity to preach about the Kingdom and to make disciples. This is the greatest work God has ever given to his servants on earth. (Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20) We are very grateful for Jesus’ perfect example. He “went journeying from city to city and from village to village, preaching and declaring the good news of the kingdom of God.” (Luke 8:1) Like him, we need faith and courage to preach about the Kingdom. With God’s help, we can be as courageous as Noah. He was a “preacher of righteousness” in “a world of ungodly people” who were going to be destroyed in a flood.
Many Christians have risked their lives so that they could worship Jehovah
19 Prayer helps us to do the preaching work. Some of Jesus’ disciples who were being persecuted prayed that they might continue “speaking the word of God with boldness,” and their prayer was answered. (Read Acts 4:29-31.) If you are afraid of preaching from house to house, pray to Jehovah for greater faith and courage, and he will help you.
20. What help do we have as Jehovah’s servants?
20 It is not easy to keep doing God’s will in this wicked world. But we are not alone. God is with us. His Son, the Head of the congregation, is helping us too. There are also more than 7,000,000 other Witnesses of Jehovah around the world. Let us all continue to show faith and preach the good news. The words of our 2013 yeartext will help us to do that: “Be courageous and strong. . . . Jehovah your God is with you.”