Courageously Walk in Jehovah’s Ways
“Happy is everyone fearing Jehovah, who is walking in his ways.”—PSALM 128:1.
1, 2. Of what help is the Biblical record of the words and deeds of early witnesses of Jehovah?
JEHOVAH’S Sacred Word is filled with accounts of the trials and joys of his loyal servants. Experiences of Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Joshua, Deborah, Barak, David, and others virtually leap from its pages. All of them were real people with something special in common. They had faith in God and courageously walked in his ways.
2 The words and deeds of early witnesses of Jehovah can be of encouragement to us as we endeavor to walk in God’s ways. Moreover, happiness will be our lot as we display reverence for God and wholesome fear of displeasing him. This is true though we face trials in life, for the inspired psalmist sang: “Happy is everyone fearing Jehovah, who is walking in his ways.”—Psalm 128:1.
What Courage Is
3. What is courage?
3 To walk in Jehovah’s ways, we must have courage. In fact, the Scriptures command God’s people to display this quality. For instance, the psalmist David sang: “Be courageous, and may your heart be strong, all you who are waiting for Jehovah.” (Psalm 31:24) Courage is “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.” (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary) A courageous person is strong, bold, valiant. That Jehovah gives his servants courage is clear from these words of the apostle Paul to his coworker Timothy: “God gave us not a spirit of cowardice, but that of power and of love and of soundness of mind.”—2 Timothy 1:7.
4. What is one way to acquire courage?
4 One way to acquire God-given courage is to give prayerful consideration to Jehovah’s Word, the Bible. Many accounts appearing in the Scriptures can help us to become more courageous. Therefore, let us first see what we can learn from the record in the Hebrew Scriptures of some who courageously walked in Jehovah’s ways.
Courage to Declare God’s Message
5. How can Enoch’s courage benefit Jehovah’s present-day servants?
5 Enoch’s courage can help Jehovah’s present-day servants to speak God’s message courageously. Before Enoch was born, “a start was made of calling on the name of Jehovah.” Some scholars say that men “began profanely” to call on Jehovah’s name. (Genesis 4:25, 26; 5:3, 6) The divine name may have been applied to humans or even to idols. Hence, false religion was flourishing when Enoch was born in 3404 B.C.E. In fact, he seems to have been alone in ‘walking with God,’ pursuing a righteous course harmonizing with Jehovah’s revealed truth.—Genesis 5:18, 24.
6. (a) What strong message did Enoch declare? (b) What confidence can we have?
6 Enoch courageously delivered God’s message, likely by preaching. (Hebrews 11:5; compare 2 Peter 2:5.) “Look!” declared this solitary witness, “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 had the courage to use the name Jehovah when delivering that message condemning the ungodly. And as God gave Enoch courage to declare that strong message, so Jehovah has empowered His present-day Witnesses to speak His word boldly in the ministry, at school, and elsewhere.—Compare Acts 4:29-31.
Courage Under Trial
7. Noah provides what example of courage?
7 Noah’s example can help us to be courageous in performing righteous works when we are under trial. With courage and faith, he acted upon divine warning of a global flood and “constructed an ark for the saving of his household.” By obedient and righteous acts, Noah condemned the unbelieving world for its evil works and proved it worthy of destruction. (Hebrews 11:7; Genesis 6:13-22; 7:16) Meditating on Noah’s course helps God’s modern-day servants to engage courageously in such righteous works as the Christian ministry.
8. (a) What did Noah face as a courageous “preacher of righteousness”? (b) What will Jehovah do for us if we are courageous preachers of righteousness?
8 If we are pursuing a righteous course but do not know how to deal with a certain trial, let us pray for wisdom to cope with it. (James 1:5-8) Noah’s loyalty to God under test shows that it is possible to meet trials with courage and faithfulness. He withstood pressure from an evil world and from materialized angels and their hybrid offspring. Yes, Noah was a courageous “preacher of righteousness” to “an ancient world” headed for destruction. (2 Peter 2:4, 5; Genesis 6:1-9) Though he spoke boldly as a herald proclaiming God’s warning to the antediluvians, “they took no note until the flood came and swept them all away.” (Matthew 24:36-39) But let us remember that despite persecution and the rejection of our Bible-based message by most people today, Jehovah will uphold us as he upheld Noah if we display similar faith and courage as preachers of righteousness.
Courage to Obey God
9, 10. In what respects did Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac display courageous obedience?
9 “Jehovah’s friend” Abraham is a fine example of courageous obedience to God. (James 2:23) Abraham needed faith and courage to obey Jehovah and leave Ur of the Chaldeans, a city full of material advantages. He believed God’s promise that “all the families of the ground” would bless themselves by means of him and that his seed would be given a land. (Genesis 12:1-9; 15:18-21) By faith Abraham “resided as an alien in the land of the promise” and looked forward to “the city having real foundations”—God’s heavenly Kingdom, under which he would be resurrected to life on earth.—Hebrews 11:8-16.
10 Abraham’s wife, Sarah, had the faith and courage needed to leave Ur, accompany her husband to a foreign land, and endure any hardships they would encounter there. And how she was rewarded for her courageous obedience to God! Though barren until about 90 and “past the age limit,” Sarah was empowered ‘to conceive seed, since she esteemed God faithful who had promised.’ In time, she bore Isaac. (Hebrews 11:11, 12; Genesis 17:15-17; 18:11; 21:1-7) Years later, Abraham courageously obeyed God and “as good as offered up Isaac.” Stopped by an angel, the patriarch received his courageous and obedient son out of death “in an illustrative way.” He and Isaac thus prophetically portrayed that Jehovah God would provide his Son, Jesus Christ, as a ransom so that those exercising faith in him might have eternal life. (Hebrews 11:17-19; Genesis 22:1-19; John 3:16) Surely, the courageous obedience of Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac should move us to obey Jehovah and always do his will.
Courage to Stand With God’s People
11, 12. (a) How did Moses display courage with regard to Jehovah’s people? (b) In view of Moses’ courage, what question might be asked?
11 Moses courageously took his stand with God’s oppressed people. In the 16th century B.C.E., Moses’ parents themselves showed courage. Not fearing the king’s order to kill newborn Hebrew males, they hid Moses and then put him in an ark among the reeds by the bank of the river Nile. Found by Pharaoh’s daughter, he was brought up as her own son, though he first received spiritual training in his parents’ home. As part of Pharaoh’s household, Moses “was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” and became “powerful in his words and deeds,” mighty in mental and physical capabilities.—Acts 7:20-22; Exodus 2:1-10; 6:20.
12 Despite the material advantages of the royal house, Moses courageously chose to take his stand with Jehovah’s worshipers, then enslaved by the Egyptians. In defense of an Israelite, he killed an Egyptian and then ran away to Midian. (Exodus 2:11-15) About 40 years later, God used him to lead the Israelites out of bondage. Moses then “left Egypt, but not fearing the anger of the king,” who threatened him with death for representing Jehovah in Israel’s behalf. Moses walked as if he saw ‘the invisible One,’ Jehovah God. (Hebrews 11:23-29; Exodus 10:28) Do you have such faith and courage that you will stick with Jehovah and his people despite hardship and persecution?
Courage to ‘Follow Jehovah Wholly’
13. How did Joshua and Caleb furnish examples of courage?
13 Courageous Joshua and Caleb provided evidence that we can walk in God’s ways. They “followed Jehovah wholly.” (Numbers 32:12) Joshua and Caleb were among the 12 men sent to spy out the Promised Land. Fearing its inhabitants, ten spies tried to dissuade Israel from entering Canaan. However, Joshua and Caleb courageously said: “If Jehovah has found delight in us, then he will certainly bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that is flowing with milk and honey. Only against Jehovah do not rebel; and you, do not you fear the people of the land, for they are bread to us. Their shelter has turned away from over them, and Jehovah is with us. Do not fear them.” (Numbers 14:8, 9) Lacking faith and courage, that generation of Israelites never reached the land of promise. But Joshua and Caleb, together with a new generation, did enter it.
14, 15. (a) As Joshua applied the words of Joshua 1:7, 8, what did he and the Israelites experience? (b) What lesson involving courage do we learn from Joshua and Caleb?
14 God told Joshua: “Be courageous and very strong to take care to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn aside from it to the right or to the left, in order that you may act wisely everywhere you go. 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.
15 As Joshua applied those words, Jericho and other cities fell to the Israelites. God even made the sun stand still so that it kept shining until Israel was victorious at Gibeon. (Joshua 10:6-14) When imperiled by united enemy forces “as numerous as the grains of sand that are on the seashore,” Joshua acted courageously, and God again made Israel victorious. (Joshua 11:1-9) Though we are imperfect humans, like Joshua and Caleb, we can follow Jehovah wholly, and God can empower us to walk in his ways courageously.
Courage to Trust in God
16. In what ways did Deborah, Barak, and Jael show courage?
16 Courageous trust in God is rewarded, as shown by events in the days when judges administered justice in Israel. (Ruth 1:1) For example, Judge Barak and the prophetess Deborah courageously trusted in God. Canaanite king Jabin had oppressed Israel for 20 years when Jehovah had Deborah prompt Barak to assemble 10,000 men on Mount Tabor. Jabin’s military chief, Sisera, rushed to the torrent valley of Kishon, sure that on this level ground Israel’s men would be no match for his army and its 900 war chariots with iron scythes on their wheels. When the Israelites marched into the valley plain, God acted in their behalf, and a flash flood turned the battlefield into a quagmire that immobilized Sisera’s chariots. Barak’s men prevailed, so that “all the camp of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword.” Sisera fled to the tent of Jael, but as he slept, she had the courage to kill him by driving a tent pin through his temples. True to Deborah’s prophetic statement to Barak, “the beautifying thing” of this victory thus went to a woman. Because Deborah, Barak, and Jael courageously trusted in God, Israel “had no further disturbance for forty years.”—Judges 4:1-22; 5:31.
17. What example of courageous trust in Jehovah was provided by Judge Gideon?
17 Judge Gideon courageously trusted in Jehovah God when the Midianites and others invaded Israel. Though outnumbered by some 135,000 invaders, Israel’s 32,000 fighting men might still have been inclined to ascribe God-given victory to their own valor. At Jehovah’s direction, Gideon therefore reduced his forces to three groups of 100 men. (Judges 7:1-7, 16; 8:10) As the 300 encircled the Midianite camp at night, each had a horn and a water jar with a torch inside. At a signal, they blew the horns, smashed the jars, raised flaming torches aloft, and shouted: “Jehovah’s sword and Gideon’s!” (Judges 7:20) The terrorized Midianites began to flee and were subdued. Such events should convince us that courageous trust in God is also rewarded today.
Courage to Honor Jehovah and Promote Pure Worship
18. When he struck down Goliath, David courageously did what?
18 Some Bible examples impart courage to honor Jehovah and promote pure worship. Young David, who boldly rescued his father’s sheep, proved courageous before the Philistine giant Goliath. “You are coming to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin,” said David, “but I am coming to you with the name of Jehovah of armies, the God of the battle lines of Israel, whom you have taunted. This day Jehovah will surrender you into my hand, and I shall certainly strike you down and remove your head off you; . . . and people of all the earth will know that there exists a God belonging to Israel. And all this congregation will know that neither with sword nor with spear does Jehovah save, because to Jehovah belongs the battle.” (1 Samuel 17:32-37, 45-47) With divine help, David courageously honored Jehovah, struck down Goliath, and thus played a vital role in removing a Philistine threat to pure worship.
19. For what project did Solomon need courage, and how can his approach be applied in our day?
19 When King David’s son Solomon was about to build God’s temple, his aged father urged him: “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 Chronicles 28:20) Taking courageous action, Solomon successfully completed the temple. When a theocratic building program presents a challenge today, let us remember David’s words: “Be courageous and strong and act.” What a fine way to honor Jehovah and promote pure worship!
20. In what respect did King Asa take courage?
20 Because of King Asa’s desire to honor God and promote pure worship, he rid Judah of idols and male temple prostitutes. He also removed his apostate grandmother from her high position and burned her “horrible idol.” (1 Kings 15:11-13) Yes, Asa “took courage and proceeded to cause the disgusting things to vanish from all the land of Judah and Benjamin and from the cities that he had captured from the mountainous region of Ephraim, and to renew Jehovah’s altar that was before the porch of Jehovah.” (2 Chronicles 15:8) Do you also courageously reject apostasy and promote pure worship? Are you using your material resources to advance Kingdom interests? And are you seeking to honor Jehovah by having a regular share in declaring the good news as one of his Witnesses?
21. (a) How can accounts of pre-Christian integrity keepers help us? (b) What will be considered in the next article?
21 How grateful we are that God has preserved Scriptural accounts regarding courageous pre-Christian integrity keepers! Surely, their fine examples can help us to render sacred service to Jehovah with courage, godly fear, and awe. (Hebrews 12:28) But the Christian Greek Scriptures also contain examples of godly courage in action. How can some of these accounts help us to walk courageously in Jehovah’s ways?
How Would You Reply?
□ What is courage?
□ How did Enoch and Noah display courage?
□ In what respects did Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac act courageously?
□ What courageous examples were set by Moses, Joshua, and Caleb?
□ How did others show that they had courage to trust in God?
[Picture on page 15]
Gideon and his small band courageously trusted in Jehovah