“Be Courageous and Very Strong”
“Be courageous and very strong . . . Jehovah your God is with you.”—JOSHUA 1:7-9.
HOW WOULD YOU ANSWER?
In what ways did Enoch and Noah show courage?
How were some women in the past good examples of faith and courage?
What are some examples of young people who impress you?
1, 2. (a) What is sometimes needed to keep doing what is right in our daily life? (b) What are we going to learn about in this article?
COURAGE is the opposite of fear, weakness, and cowardice. We may think of a courageous person as someone who is strong and bold. But sometimes, courage is needed simply to keep doing what is right in our daily life.
2 Some people mentioned in the Bible were fearless in very difficult situations. Others showed courage in situations that happen to Jehovah’s servants every day. What can we learn from Bible examples of courage? How can we be courageous?
COURAGEOUS WITNESSES IN AN UNGODLY WORLD
3. What did Enoch prophesy about the wicked?
3 It took courage to be a witness of Jehovah among wicked people on earth before the Flood of Noah’s day. But Enoch, “the seventh one in line from Adam,” boldly preached 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 as if these things had already happened because that prophecy was sure to come true. And wicked humans did die in a global flood.
4. Noah walked with God in spite of what things happening around him?
4 The Flood happened in the year 2370 before Christ, more than 650 years after Enoch died. Meanwhile, Noah was born, raised a family, and with his sons built the ark. Wicked angels made human bodies for themselves, took good-looking women, and had sons with them. These sons were called Nephilim. Most people were wicked, and violence was everywhere on the earth. (Genesis 6:1-5, 9, 11) In spite of all these things happening around him, “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 SHOWED FAITH AND COURAGE
5. How did Moses show faith and courage?
5 Moses was an example of faith and courage. (Hebrews 11:24-27) God used him from the year 1513 to the year 1473 before Christ to take the Israelites out of Egypt and lead them in the wilderness. Moses did not think that he had the ability to carry out this assignment, but he did accept it. (Exodus 6:12) He and his brother, Aaron, spoke to cruel Pharaoh again and again. They courageously announced the Ten Plagues that Jehovah used to rescue the Israelites and to prove that Egypt’s gods had no power. (Exodus, chapters 7-12) Moses showed faith and courage because he had constant help from God, just as we do today.—Deuteronomy 33:27.
6. If the authorities question us, what will help us to defend our beliefs with courage?
6 We know we will need the same kind of courage that Moses had. 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.” (Matthew 10:18-20) If the authorities question us about our service to God, Jehovah’s spirit will help us to show respect as we defend our beliefs with faith and courage.—Read Luke 12:11, 12.
7. Why was Joshua courageous and successful at his assignment?
7 Joshua, who became the leader of Israel after Moses, strengthened his faith and courage by regularly studying God’s Law. In the year 1473 before Christ, Israel was ready to enter the Promised Land. God told Joshua: “Be courageous and very strong.” He also told Joshua that if he obeyed the Law, he would act wisely and do well at his assignment. God said: “Do not suffer shock or be terrified, for Jehovah your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:7-9) Those words must really have strengthened Joshua! And God certainly was with him. We know that because most of the Promised Land was conquered in only six years, by the year 1467 before Christ.
WOMEN WHO SERVED GOD WITH COURAGE
8. Why is Rahab an example of faith and courage?
8 In the past, many women showed courage in their service to Jehovah. For example, the prostitute Rahab of Jericho believed in Jehovah’s protection. She courageously hid two spies sent by Joshua. When some men came looking for the spies, she sent these men somewhere else. She and her family were kept alive when the Israelites conquered Jericho. Rahab stopped her sinful way of life, started to worship Jehovah faithfully, and even became part of the Messiah’s family line! (Joshua 2:1-6; 6:22, 23; Matthew 1:1, 5) She was greatly blessed for her faith and courage.
9. How did Deborah, Barak, and Jael show courage?
9 After Joshua’s death about the year 1450 before Christ, God appointed men as judges in Israel. Canaanite King Jabin was very cruel to the Israelites for 20 years. God used the prophetess Deborah to tell Judge Barak to fight against this king. Barak gathered 10,000 men on Mount Tabor and was ready for battle with Jabin’s military chief Sisera. Sisera had entered the dry riverbed of the Kishon with his army and its 900 war chariots. When the Israelites marched into the valley, God caused a sudden flood. The ground was so muddy that the Canaanite chariots could not move. Barak’s men won the battle, and the whole army of Sisera was killed. Sisera himself tried to hide in the tent of a woman whose name was Jael, but she killed him while he slept. Just as Deborah had prophesied, the praise for the victory over the Canaanites went to a woman, that is, to Jael. Because Deborah, Barak, and Jael acted courageously, Israel had no further trouble from the Canaanites for 40 years. (Judges 4:1-9, 14-22; 5:20, 21, 31) Many men and women have shown similar faith and courage.
OUR WORDS CAN HELP OTHERS TO HAVE COURAGE
10. How do we know that our words can help others to have courage?
10 What we say can help other worshippers of Jehovah to have courage. In the 11th century before Christ, 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 Chronicles 28:20) Solomon courageously built the beautiful temple of Jehovah in Jerusalem.
11. How did the words of a courageous Israelite girl help someone?
11 In the tenth century before Christ, the words of a courageous Israelite girl helped a leper to be healed and to learn about Jehovah. This girl had been captured by the Syrians and became a servant of the army chief. His name was Naaman, and he was a leper. The girl knew about the miracles that Jehovah performed through his prophet Elisha. So she told Naaman’s wife that if her husband went to Israel, Elisha would heal him. Naaman did what the girl said, was miraculously healed, and became a worshipper of Jehovah. (2 Kings 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, schoolmates, and others.
12. How did the words of King Hezekiah influence his people?
12 The right words can help someone to have courage in a dangerous situation. When the Assyrians marched against Jerusalem in the eighth century before Christ, King Hezekiah told his people: “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 did those words influence the people of Judah? The words helped them to have greater courage. The Bible says: “The people began to brace themselves upon the words of Hezekiah.” (2 Chronicles 32:7, 8) Encouraging words like Hezekiah’s may help us and other Christians to have greater courage when we are being persecuted.
13. Why was King Ahab’s steward Obadiah an example of courage?
13 We sometimes show courage by what we do not say. In the tenth century before Christ, King Ahab’s steward Obadiah courageously hid a hundred prophets of Jehovah “by fifties in a cave” so that they would not be killed by wicked Queen Jezebel. (1 Kings 18:4) Like Obadiah, who feared God, many of Jehovah’s servants today have courageously protected their brothers and sisters by not giving persecutors information about them.
QUEEN ESTHER WAS COURAGEOUS
14, 15. How did Queen Esther show faith and courage? What was the result?
14 Queen Esther showed great faith and courage. In the fifth century before Christ, wicked Haman planned to kill all the Jews in the empire. When the Jews heard that they were going to be killed, they mourned and fasted. They also must have prayed with all their heart. (Esther 4:1-3) Queen Esther was extremely worried for the Jews. Her cousin Mordecai sent her a copy of the law that said that the Jews should be killed and told her to go before the king and beg him to help her people. But anyone who went to the king without an invitation would be killed.—Esther 4:4-11.
15 Mordecai told Esther that if she did not go to the king, Jehovah would save the Jews in some other way. Mordecai said that the reason she became queen might have been to help Jehovah’s people. Esther then asked Mordecai to gather the Jews in Shushan together to fast. She said: “I shall fast likewise, 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 of Esther tells us that God delivered his people. Today, anointed Christians and the other sheep show similar courage when they suffer. And Jehovah, the “Hearer of prayer,” always helps them.—Read Psalm 65:2; 118:6.
16. What example did Jesus set for young ones?
16 One time, when Jesus was 12 years old, his parents found him at the temple, “sitting in the midst of the teachers and listening to them and questioning them.” And “all those listening to him were in constant amazement at his understanding and his answers.” (Luke 2:41-50) Even though he was young, Jesus had the faith and courage needed to ask questions of older teachers at the temple. Young people in the Christian congregation should remember Jesus’ example. This will help them use all the opportunities they have to explain to others the reason for their faith.—1 Peter 3:15.
17. Why did Jesus tell his disciples to “take courage”? Why do we need to be courageous?
17 Jesus told others to “take courage.” (Matthew 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) The world hates us just as it hated the first disciples of Jesus, but we do not want to become part of the world. We can have the courage to keep separate from this world if we meditate on Jesus’ example of courage. He conquered the world, and so can we.—John 17:16; James 1:27.
“BE OF GOOD COURAGE!”
18, 19. How did the apostle Paul show faith and courage?
18 The apostle Paul endured many trials. Once, Jews in Jerusalem were going to kill Paul, but Roman soldiers 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 exactly what Jesus told him to do.
19 Paul showed no fear when he told the “superfine apostles,” who tried to corrupt the congregation in Corinth, that they were wrong. (2 Corinthians 11:5; 12:11) These men were false apostles. Paul could prove that Jesus had sent him because of all the things he had endured, such as imprisonment, beatings, dangerous journeys, difficulties, hunger, thirst, sleepless nights, and his anxiety for all the congregations. (Read 2 Corinthians 11:23-28.) Paul’s excellent example of faith and courage proved that his strength came from God!
20, 21. (a) Give an example to show that we need courage to endure difficult situations in life. (b) In what situations may we need to show courage? And of what can we be certain?
20 Not all Christians will suffer intense persecution. But we all need boldness to endure difficult situations in life. For example, a young person in Brazil was part of a gang. After studying the Bible, he knew that he needed to make changes, but usually anyone who left that 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 allowed to leave without suffering any punishment, and he became a publisher.
21 We need courage in many situations. We need it to preach the good news. Young people need courage to keep integrity at school. It takes courage to ask for time off from work to go to all sessions of a convention. And we could give many other examples. Whatever the situation may be, Jehovah will hear our “prayer of faith.” (James 5:15) And certainly he can give us his holy spirit so that we can “be courageous and very strong”!
SOME EXPRESSIONS EXPLAINED
Courageous: Bold, fearless, strong. God’s servants need to be courageous both in difficult situations and in situations of everyday life
Authorities: Those who have power or control, such as government officials, police, judges, and so on
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Like Esther, we should be strong when we suffer trials
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Enoch preached courageously in an ungodly world
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Jael was courageous and strong