A lasting commandment

Second in the COURAGE series

The significant first mention of the word Courage in the Bible (KJV) is found in the thirteenth chapter of Numbers:

And Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said unto them, Get you up this way southward, and go up into the mountain: And see the land, what it is; and the people that dwelleth therein, whether they be strong or weak, few or many; And what the land is that they dwell in, whether it be good or bad; and what cities they be that they dwell in, whether in tents, or in strong holds; And what the land is, whether it be fat or lean, whether there be wood therein, or not. And be ye of good courage, and bring of the fruit of the land. Now the time was the time of the first ripe grapes. (Num 13:17-20)

On their return, ten of the spies warned against entering the land and the two who urged going forward, Joshua and Caleb, were threatened with stoning by the people. (Num 14:10) For these cowardly reactions (Heb 3:19), God would not allow the Hebrews to enter the land until 40 years had passed, one for each day it had been explored. (Num 14:34) And then, only the children of the fathers would enter, and Joshua and Caleb who gave a good report.

This story brings up number of points.
1. It is critical to have good representatives. People (sheeple) will follow the bad advice and example of ungodly leaders.
2. Fear gives rise to discouragement, leading to inaction or wrong actions. Come against it! (2 Tim 1:7)
3. The Lord would have us to consider the topography of the challenges ahead. This is not to cause us to turn back but to press into him for help to be more than conquerors. (Rom 8:37-39)
4. God will not tolerate babyish ranting nor unwarranted disbelief from his own people. Christ came to show us the Father and to die for our sins, making a way for us to live eternally. He has promised to be with us to the end. (Mat 28:20) Have we any excuse not to drive the enemy from our minds and hearts? (Mat 4:7)

After the 40 years Moses commanded Joshua, Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. (Deut 31:6, 7, 23) The good word of the Lord had not changed: Be of good courage!

The Lord himself charged Joshua with the Courage command in Josh 1:6, 7, 9; and Joshua repeated it to the people, Josh 1:18; 10:25, so the land was conquered, nearly all of it.

As the centuries passed, the Israelites would repeat these words to one another and to their children.

  • David spoke them to Solomon to encourage him in building the temple (1 Ch 22:13; 28:20);
  • Ezra was lifted by them, hearing a Hebrew say them in seeking to be upright following the exile (Ezra 10:4);
  • Isaiah recalled the strength of those who feared the Lord and sought to follow him, helping one another by saying, Be of good courage. (Isa 41:6)

From these “mentions” we draw a few more conclusions:
1. There will never be a time on earth when we won’t need to hear these words.
2. We must encourage one another and the younger generation by saying them.
3. We must obey them.

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. (Josh 1:9)

Be of good courage, and let us behave ourselves valiantly for our people, and for the cities of our God: and let the LORD do that which is good in his sight. (1 Chron 19:13)

Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD. (Ps 31:24)

Be of good courage

First in the COURAGE series

In Revelation the cowardly are noted first among those who will go to hell.

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars— they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. Rev 21:8

Courage is most important.

We need courage to endure mistreatment, to fight against evil and wrong, or simply to stand against depression, indecision and fear.

In this series we will study those in Scripture who showed courage, to learn or be reminded of how and when to be courageous.

The River of Life

The River in the Bible - Seventh and final in a series

Ezekiel and Daniel received visions from God while they were by rivers. Ezekiel saw the cherubims of the Lord by the River of Chebar in Babylon, and above them, the throne of God and "the likeness of his glory" (Eze1:28). Daniel received prophecies and saw angels, the Lord and himself by the Ulai River in Elam and the Tigris River in Persia.

There are angels nearby, or soon to arrive for our help, no matter where we are.

By the Chebar the Lord charged Ezekiel to speak God's words to the Jews in exile. He would be a watchman to warn a rebellious people and then to encourage them. Many visions were given to him to share, yet his prophecy is perhaps best remembered for the Lord's promise to give his people a heart of flesh and remove the stony heart that prevented their faithfulness and obedience. (Eze 11:19; 36:26) We need warnings and preaching, but we're hopeless without the gifts and mercy of God.

Ezekiel's final vision was of a temple that was perfectly and specially prepared for the coming of the Lord to his people. Its dimensions were larger than real life; the idealized temple Ezekiel perceived was too large to fit in the area where the Solomon's temple lay in ruins. But to impress his audience, the dimensions were "exact, to show that the promise is certain; equal, to denote harmony; and vast, to mark majesty and grandeur." (Albert Barnes commentary)

It was a temple where animals were sacrificed and priests ministered just as when Jesus came, yet it stood beyond that era too. From under its threshold waters flowed forth, at first ankle deep, then to the knees, then impassable. (Ez 47:1-5) They gushed into the Dead Sea healing its waters, except for some miry places, reserved for salt. (Eze 47:11) Everything shall live! The river was the gospel going forth from Jerusalem to quench all thirst, over the wide world, for “whosoever believes.” (Luk 24:46, 47)

When Daniel was a young man he interpreted the dreams and visions of rulers, but as an older man he was given visions, and angels interpreted them for him. In his visions where he was by a river, angels stood on the banks of the river, and the Lord stood above the river instructing the angels. (Dan 8:16; 12:5-7)

Daniel had prayed for the fulfillment of Jeremiah's prophecy that 70 years would elapse before Israel returned to her land after the exile in Babylon, and the the temple would be rebuilt. In response he was given a fuller picture not only of that certainty but also of many events that would trouble the world and the people of the Lord.

He was a man greatly loved by God (Dan 9:23; 10:11) and the Lord knew he could entrust him with the prophecies that have shown believers over the ages that God is in complete control of every detail of history.

By the rivers, Daniel learned that in latter days a fierce king would destroy the mighty and holy people, (Dan 8:24) and the power of the holy people will be scattered. (Dan 12:7) And though the people that know their God will be strong in ministry, nevertheless they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, for many days, and the king who honors the God of forces will be in control. (Dan 11:32, 33, 38)

These bitter prophecies in part refer to Christians today, and they are good reason to keep our focus on the man above the waters. Yet, a day will arrive when sorrows are past.

Zechariah saw a river flowing out of Jerusalem, in a day of victory when the Lord shall be king over the earth.

And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one. (Zech 14:8-9)

John the revelator saw the coming of the Lord and the new heaven and earth. There will be no more sea, no sun nor moon, no night, BUT THERE WILL BE A RIVER — the river of the water of life, clear as crystal flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, watering the tree of life whose leaves will heal the nations. (Rev 21:1, 23, 25; Rev 22:1, 2)

And see! That river is here now! Let him who is thirsty come, let him who desires take the water of life without price. (Rev 22:17)

The River of Life is the gospel truth shared across the centuries. We will quote it as spoken by the Ethiopian at his baptism: I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Acts 8:37)

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. -Mat 5:14

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