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Joshua 1:9 “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”
After the death of Moses, it came to pass that the Lord spoke to Joshua as the new bearer in leading Israel unto the Promised Land, Canaan (Joshua 1:1-4). The Lord had made it sure to emphasize to him that he needs to be strong and courageous. He mentioned this to him 3 times in Chapter 1, it is found in verses 6, 7 and 9.
Before Moses died, he also said to Joshua that he needs to be strong and courageous. He said this 3 times also in Deuteronomy 31 verses 6, 7 and 23.
Three is the number of Divine Perfection. So if the Lord has given you the instruction three times, that means It is Sure, Solid, Essential, Substantial, Complete, Perfect and Divine. Those Words cannot be bend nor break by anyone or anything. It is a sure and perfect instruction. This instruction was even sealed by the Lord in Joshua 1:5 saying:
“There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”
So there it is. Perfect and Divine instruction sealed by the Lord. All that is needed to do by Joshua is to actually fulfill it.
In today’s Spiritual Israel, Moses is the type of Bro. William Braham who died before the Bride (Israel) had reached the Promised Land (Word). While Joshua typed the Lord Jesus Christ who works to conquer the Promise Land (Word/Bible) through the members of today’s Five-Fold Ministry (Apostle, Prophets, Evangelist, Pastors and Teachers). The only thing for today’s ministers to do is to be strong and courageous in order for the Lord to do great things through them.
But what exactly does being Strong and Courageous mean? How can we differentiate weak and coward ministers from the strong and courageous ones? Let’s take a look first about the meaning of being strong and courageous.
The Hebrew word used for Strong is “khaw-zak” which means “to be firm,” “to withstand” and “to prevail.” So when the Lord told Joshua to be strong, He is telling him to be firm in His Word, to withstand every enemy along the way and to eventually prevail at the end.
Bravery Vs. Courage
In order to have a better understanding of what it means to be Courageous, let us first compare and contrast it to the word “bravery” since these two words are often interchange. Although these two are often linked together, there is a subtle difference between them.
Bravery came from the word “bravado” which are often used by Native Americans to describe young active males who typically performed hunting and warrior roles in their tribes. So bravery is actually the quality that pushes someone to face pain, danger, threat or hazards without any feeling of fear or at least looks fearless. It is the strength in character that allows a person to always be seemingly bigger than the crisis, whether he/she is indeed more powerful or lesser than what he is facing, he/she faced it without fear.
In the case of Christians Martyrs, it is there faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that allows them to praise the Lord while facing their deaths! They don’t fear death at all. In fact, to them, just like the Apostle Paul, “to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). To them, they considered dying as gaining that’s why these Christians are facing their deaths without any fear. And that’s Bravery.
In the story of David, it is during his fight with Goliath that we can say that David is a brave man. He does not feel any fear to Goliath at all while all the other soldiers of Israel around him that time are all trembling in fear and can’t even lift their swords to fight Goliath. It is his faith to the Lord His God Who is bigger than Goliath that gave him the assurance that he will win the fight. So he faced Goliath without fear at all. And that’s bravery.
You see, the source of this fearlessness is actually not their selves but the God that is always greater than any of the external dangers that they are facing. So being brave is actually being fearless to (mostly but not all the time) physical dangers that pose pain, threat or hazard against you. That’s why you used this word to described people like soldiers, firefighters, policemen, etc. who always deal with physical dangers. But we do not used this word to people who deal with internal struggles or pain like those who has the capacity to admit their mistakes or are facing situations like the loss of a loved one.
Courage, on the other hand, is not the absence of fear, it is the ability to act even in the presence of fear. To continue and to move forward in spite of fear and pain is courageous. So in contrast to Bravery, you felt fear in Courage only that you still choose to go on and fight in spite of that fear. It came from the Latin word “Cor” which means “heart”.
If bravery deals mostly with physical dangers, courage, on the other hand, deals mostly on mental, psychological, emotional and spiritual pains. Although sometimes, one needs courage to face physical dangers, being courageous does not always imply facing physical dangers. One is dealing here what we call the internal pains which are much more difficult to deal with compared to the physical/external ones.
Bravery is dealing with an external pain that posses treat to your physical body while courage deals mostly with internal pains that posses threat to your heart (the spiritual heart).
For example, you need courage to admit that you have committed a sin, and you need courage to face the loss of a loved one. These situations do not pose any physical danger to you, yet they are painful or difficult situations. People who have overcome these situations are not called brave but are called courageous.
The Lord Jesus Christ – A Great Example of Courage
Another great example of courage was shown by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself while praying in the garden of Gethsemane the night before His crucifixion. Facing His execution, He was in great agony, depression, stress, sorrow, fear and emotional, psychological, mental and spiritual pains. He is facing all of these at that time that He prayed to our Father saying:
“And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: (Matt. 26:39a, Luke 22:42a)”
Because of all these internal pains, he felt that night, He prayed to our Father, if it is possible, that the cup of suffering would be taken away from Him. For aside from being a God, He is also 100% human that’s why He has experienced all of these pains. So when we are experiencing these pains, our Lord Jesus Christ knows exactly what we feel and that’s the reason why He is there to answer our prayers and to comfort us (Matt. 7:11, Psa. 91:15, John 15:16).
What our Lord is experiencing that night is the slow and steady erosion of His heart being asked to carry a tremendous task with both external and internal pains without being consumed by it in order to save His flock. If you have experienced those extreme stress, agony, depression, fear and all those internal pains at the same time, you will know why our Lord asked His Father if it’s possible to take away the cup from Him. Mental and spiritual anguish has a way of stripping away so many of the human details in us, even our personality itself. That situation will break us into pieces and it will reveal the internal us – who we really are.
And here in this very situation, our Lord had given us an example that His prayer and these internal struggles He is facing are not actually weaknesses, but ultimately a special kind of strength – the strength to go on even in fear. And He did go on in the quest of Love to save His beloved at the expense of His own Life. And for any of us carrying the weight of horror, trauma, grief, stress, anxiety, depression, despair in our everyday life — our hope is the same. To go on. To know that, even when our minds give out under the tremendous weight because we are only human, there is a God in us Who has gained victory over all of these.
In fact, because of these pains, our Lord knows exactly how you feel if you are facing pains and trials because He himself has faced them too! The only difference between Jesus experiences and ours is that: His is more intense than ours!
Let’s go back to that scene on the Garden of Gethsemane. If we read further, after that prayer, Luke 22:44 recorded:
“And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground”
This phenomenon is called by science as HEMATIDROSIS or HEMATOHIDROSIS. It is the very rare condition in which a human being sweats blood. This occurs when blood vessels in our sweat glands burst off due to extreme levels of stress that we are experiencing. Example of an extreme level of stress is when a person is facing his own death. Several historical references have also recorded this phenomenon to occur to soldiers who sweated blood the night before going to war or to convicted men the day before facing their death sentence.
It is interesting to note also that among the four Gospel writers, it was only Luke who took notice and recorded this phenomenon to occur to our Lord. Possibly because he is a physician and he is interested in this rare physiological phenomenon, which spoke eloquently of the intense spiritual agony that our Lord Jesus has suffered.
Isaiah 53 would tell us also what kind of man our Lord is. He had experienced ALL our troubles with an intensity much MORE THAN any of us had ever experienced. For what purpose? In order to CONQUER them all (troubles) (John 16:33), including DEATH itself (1 Cor. 15:55-57)! That’s why we need not defeat or conquer our own troubles and weaknesses because our Lord Jesus Christ had already overcome them for us. Those troubles we are facing are His, not ours. He is the one leading. We should give them to Him. What we need to do is to be strong and courageous in everything that we are facing and ENTRUST everything to our Lord!
As the Head Suffers, so is the Body
If we try to look at our natural body, our head is physiologically the one which feels all the pains and the feelings that our body is feeling and it is also the one that influences the whole parts of the body. The nerves which are the continuation of the brain stretches an amazingly 60,000 miles long. That is more than twice the distance around the Earth. It is through our nerves that our brain is connected to every part of the body.
When a member of the body is injured or in pain, a signal is at once sent up to the brain, and it is actually the brain that process that signal and the one that feels the pain. The brain will then take the initiative to heal or protect the injured member to avoid further injury. In all of these process, all of the other members of the body also feels the pain of that member being injured because all are connected to the brain.
However, this is not the case when a nerve is injured or is being blocked just like in the case of people suffering from stroke. Their nerves are being blocked by a blood clot or being injured by the bursting of the blockage. When this happens, the part of the body that is affected by this blockage cannot send a signal to the brain and the brain cannot send signal also to that part of the body that’s why the brain cannot control it. So even if how injured that part of the body is, because its nerve is blocked, it cannot feel the brain and the pains of the other member of the body.
The Spiritual Body
Just like in the natural, so is in the spiritual. We, the Church, is the body of our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 12:5, 1 Cor. 12:12–27, Eph. 3:6 and 5:23, Col. 1:24). He is our Head – the Head of the Church (Col. 1:18). Being the Head of the Body, He is the first One to be greatly affected when a member of His Body is in pain. And being His Body, we, the Church, will also feel what He feels. When He suffers, we suffer. When He is glorified, we will also be glorified. For it is impossible for the Body not to suffer when the Head is suffering and it is impossible for the Body not to be glorified when the Head is glorified (1 Cor. 12:26).
This is the very reason why every member of the Body of Christ suffers when they are born in this world just like what our Lord told us in John 16:33. This is because our Head who is our Lord Jesus, also suffers when He was born in this world. During His life here on earth, He had experienced extreme suffering to fulfill what was written of Him. And so we should not wonder why we are also suffering right now. But after His life here, He was glorified. And so after our life here also, we will be glorified with Him (Rom. 8:30, 2 Thes. 2:14) so that the Head and the body will be all in all! That’s why we should always remember these words of Apostle Paul in Colossians 3:1-4
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”
However, if we are like that member of the body whose nerves are blocked (just like what happens to Adam and Eve when they have sinned, their connections to God was blocked that’s why God called to Adam and asked him where he is in Genesis 3:9), our connection to the Head is also compromise that’s why we can’t feel the other members of His Body. This is the time when you can’t feel the suffering or feelings of your brothers and sisters in Christ because your connection was blocked by sins. You don’t go to church anymore to hear His Word and you can’t even feel the Lord’s calling you. If you are experiencing this, then you are experiencing what Paul called in Colossians 2:19 as:
“They have lost connection with the head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.”
When this happens to us, we need to connect again with our Lord through His Word Who always calls for the member of His body when they are lost. And just like our Lord Who was in great agony, depression, stress, sorrow, fear and emotional, psychological, mental and spiritual pains facing His execution, we need to be strong and courageous also in order to overcome this situation. So that we can also say:
“…nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. (Matt. 26:39b)”
May our Lord continue to reveal to us His Word is my prayer.
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