The Bible is full of examples of godly men and women who demonstrated aspects of God’s character. God recorded them to be an example for us (1 Corinthians 10:11). He wants His youth to study into and learn from them so you can emulate that same divine character.
One of the most important characteristics you can develop is courage. In Malachi’s Message, Gerald Flurry said, “[S]piritual courage may be the greatest need. Without it, the other virtues are of little value!”
Obeying God requires courage. Standing up for God requires courage. Having faith and trusting in God requires courage. Being willing to sacrifice your own life for God requires courage. Letting God fight your battles requires courage. Becoming a leader for God requires courage.
Nine men and women stand out in the Scriptures for their examples of godly courage. Get out your Bible, study their stories, and aspire to the same courage in your own life.
1. After Moses’s death, God chose Joshua to lead Israel. What was the first thing God instructed him to do? Joshua 1:1-2.
Joshua was now the leader God would use to uphold the law within Israel. This was a daunting task. The Promised Land is a type of the Kingdom of God. Joshua had to fight his way into the Promised Land in the same way you have to fight your way into the Kingdom of God.
2. Did God repeatedly command the Israelites—and Joshua in particular—to show courage? Verses 5-9.
God is exhorting His people to not be afraid while we fight to enter into the Kingdom of God. Joshua led Israel to win battle after battle. He courageously led the Israelites in upholding and keeping God’s laws. As long as you exalt God and continue to fight and overcome, He can give you more faith and more courage.
3. Who personally appeared to Joshua to teach him an important lesson regarding the Promised Land? Joshua 5:13-15.
Joshua was standing on holy ground because God was there. The Being who later became Jesus Christ was showing Joshua that He was leading the Israelites into the Promised Land.
Mr. Flurry writes in The Former Prophets—How to Become a King: “Jesus Christ—here manifested as a man—is a military commander. He holds a drawn sword because sometimes He has to slaughter people. This magnificent being was the one leading the Israelites into the Promised Land—it wasn’t Joshua! That same God is leading the pcg into the Kingdom of God today! When we do God’s Work, we are standing on holy ground! … We always ought to stand on holy ground spiritually. When we do God’s Work, we are on holy ground, and we had better never forget that if we want God to be with us! If He isn’t, we are in trouble. But if you really know and believe that, how can that not fill you with courage?”
4. How is courage connected to obedience? Joshua 23:6.
If your courage is lacking, you won’t stand up for God’s way of life, and you won’t obey God’s laws. Go to God for the courage to obey.
5. How did Joshua rule his house? Joshua 24:14-15.
“What a powerful statement from a leader of God! He’s saying, I don’t care if the whole nation turns away—my family is going to obey God! You can see that Joshua ruled his family God’s way. That is what God wants from you as well. But that statement is probably even stronger than you realize. Joshua was also saying: Even if there is any member in my household who won’t go along, this house that I live in is going to obey and serve God! No matter what happens, no person on Earth could cause me to turn away from God! What a leader!” (ibid).
1. Whom did God use to judge Israel when there were no men strong enough to lead? Judges 4:4.
2. Did God give a man the authority to lead Israel at this time? Verse 6.
3. Did God promise to give Barak’s army the victory? Verse 7. What was Barak’s condition for following God’s instruction? Verses 8-9.
God wanted Barak to deliver Israel, but he was too weak. He would not even consider leading Israel into battle unless Deborah went with him. She chided Barak for his lack of courage.
4. What are the parallels between today’s society and Deborah’s time? Isaiah 3:12.
This is describing the modern nations of Israel today, just as it was in the time of Deborah. The lack of courageous leadership has produced weak, effeminate boys and overly aggressive girls.
5. Has God taken away all strong leadership in modern-day Israel? Verses 1-5.
There can be no strong leaders without strong family government. The state of the family represents the state of the nation. It takes courage for men to rule their houses and head their families. There are no men up to the challenge today—just as there weren’t when Deborah judged Israel.
1. When Saul was having spiritual problems, his servants suggested they find someone to play him soothing music. What were David’s attributes—even as a youth—that recommended him for the job? 1 Samuel 16:17-18.
David was just a teenager, and he had already built up a reputation. He was known for his courage. How about you? That courage could only be the result of his faith in God’s power.
2. What was the most famous instance of David displaying courage? 1 Samuel 17:23-26.
Hardships reveal who the real warriors are. David knew these weren’t just the armies of Israel. These were God’s armies! David was courageous because he had no doubt that God was backing Israel.
3. How did David’s experience as a shepherd embolden him in this situation? Verses 33-37.
You don’t get the impression that David fought many wars prior to this encounter, yet he had pursued and killed a lion and a bear when they threatened his father’s flocks. Those are some courageous feats!
Goliath may have been the biggest man ever to walk the Earth. He was a trained warrior covered in impressive armor. He was anywhere from 10 to 12 feet tall. His coat of mail weighed 156 pounds—more than most of you! The tip of his spear was 18 to 19 pounds. The estimated total weight of his armor was 273 pounds!
“What an earthshaking example of David’s faith! What mind-staggering power in a young David who believed the living God! Can you imagine how this example is going to encourage and inspire the people of this world when they get to know God? Do you see how we can impact the world today with this kind of faith in the living God? David was motivated to fight Goliath so that all the Earth may know there is a God in Israel!” (The Former Prophets). David’s example will encourage the whole world. Will you be renowned for your own spiritual courage?
4. Did David recognize that this was God’s battle to win? Verses 45-47.
5. How did David approach the Philistine? Verse 48.
David ran to take Goliath down. He had no doubt that God would prevail. David, a teenager, had no doubts. How much do you just believe God? That gives you tremendous power and should fuel your courage.
Mr. Flurry continues, “Would you ever risk your life to show this world that God lives in the pcg, in spiritual Israel? Certainly nobody in physical Israel today would do it. But this has to be our goal. We must passionately want the world to know that the living God is in the pcg. The living God is here, and He wants the whole world to know that! David was a man after His own heart, so he thought just like God in that respect.” Your display of courage proves that God is in this Church and that He is working in your life.
Daniel and His Friends
Daniel’s friends—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—dedicated themselves to God. They never lost sight of the fact that God was their ultimate Judge, and it gave them courage to face intense trials.
1. Why were Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego brought before the king of Babylon? Daniel 3:12-13.
These men had spent much of their youth in the Babylonian Empire. It would have taken courage to stand up for God in the face of all the customs surrounding them. They were not afraid to obey God even though they risked losing their status in Babylon.
2. What punishment faced the three youths if they did not worship the golden idol? Verse 15. How did Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego respond to the king? Verses 16-18. What was the king’s reaction to the courage of these men of God? Verses 19-20.
Nebuchadnezzar was so furious that his face contorted. Humanly, these men were in a precarious position: The most powerful ruler in the world was filled with murderous rage toward them. But they stood firm.
Mr. Flurry writes, “God says this book is for the end time! He had this recorded in His Word for us today. It is end-time prophecy for the people of God! We need to learn this invaluable lesson about dealing with trials. There is no way to tell what the future holds for each of us” (Daniel Unlocks Revelation). When you courageously stand for God, you are placing your life in His hands.
3. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego showed courage when threatened, but how did they respond when the threat was enacted? Verses 21, 23.
Mr. Flurry continues, “These men were thrown in! Obviously they had faith—but God still allowed them to be plunged into the fiery furnace!
“We not only need faith before we’re thrown in the furnace—we need faith while we’re in the furnace! We must know that God is with us in our trials just as surely as He was with those men in the furnace. God did not remove the trial, even though they were faithful—He led them through it” (ibid).
4. What happened in the fiery furnace? Verses 24-25. What was Nebuchadnezzar’s response? Verses 28-30.
Later on, Daniel faced a similar trial as his three friends. The king made a decree forbidding prayer to anyone but himself for a period of time (Daniel 6:7), influenced by some advisers who wanted Daniel dismissed.
5. Did Daniel, clearly informed of this decree, pray openly to God throughout the day? Daniel 6:10. Did he have to face the consequences of obeying God rather than men? Verses 12-14.
It takes courage to obey God. Daniel knew the risks of praying, but he wouldn’t let anything come between him and God. The name Daniel means “God is my Judge.”
6. Did God allow Daniel to suffer the consequences of breaking the king’s decree? Verse 16.
As with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, God allowed Daniel to be thrown into the midst of a sore trial. Daniel had to have courage to not compromise in his relationship with God. He knew that God would intervene, even once he was thrown into the lion’s den—and so did King Darius!
7. What was King Darius’s reaction to Daniel’s deliverance? Verses 22-23, 26-28.
Daniel feared and obeyed God no matter what. God will lead us through every trial—no matter how hot it gets—if we never forget that God is our Judge.
Like Daniel and his friends, Esther had a powerful enemy. In her case, it was a new chief prince of Persia named Haman who ruled directly under King Xerxes.
1. What threat did the Jewish people face in Esther’s time? Esther 3:5-6.
Haman was in a position of authority to follow through on his threat.
2. What did Mordecai, Esther’s cousin, request of her? Esther 4:7-8.
Esther was married to a temperamental king. If she disputed a royal decree—even one not issued by the king himself—she could be in serious danger.
3. While Esther knew she needed to go before the king with the threat to her people, what was the penalty for entering the king’s court unsummoned? Verse 11.
4. So what did Esther resolve to do? Verse 16.
Could you say, If I perish, I perish? Are you willing to risk your life for God? Can you be convicted to do God’s will to that degree if required?
King Hezekiah faced down incredible trials—but only when he relied on God and direction from His Prophet Isaiah.
1. Whose example did Hezekiah follow during his reign? 2 Chronicles 29:1-2.
2. What specific action honored this predecessor of King Hezekiah? 2 Chronicles 30:21, 26.
Under Hezekiah, the people learned to praise God again. They experienced great joy in keeping the Feast of Unleavened Bread. When we serve God with our might, we can have that kind of joy. Setting Judah back on track, of itself, took courage.
3. What severe threat did Hezekiah face? 2 Chronicles 32:1.
There was no human army that could defeat Sennacherib’s. To understand how terrifying the Assyrian army must have been to the Jews, consider their modern descendants under Hitler. He led Germany to kill 6 million Jews among some 20 million human beings. His goal was to exterminate every Jew, which stemmed from his hatred for God.
4. Where did Hezekiah turn in response to Sennacherib’s threat? 2 Kings 19:1-2.
5. How did God answer King Hezekiah’s bold request for intervention? Verses 6-7, 32-34.
Herbert W. Armstrong wrote in a Good News March 1985 article entitled “Let God Fight Your Battles”: “The vast armies of Assyria were marching westward and southward to invade Judah. The Jews were greatly outnumbered. They had no army or power to stand up against such a powerful foe. They were helpless. They faced certain defeat—just as you may feel helpless in the face of your troubles today.
“If some of you try to solve your problem or overcome your bad habits or resist sin in nothing more than your own power and strength, you, too, will find yourself outnumbered, overpowered and doomed to defeat! You must learn, as this ancient king did, that God stands ready and willing to fight your battles for you.”
If you’re not winning battles, this is the reason. We all have battles we have to fight and win. If you learn to fight with God’s power, you will have tremendous courage to face any problem.
6. What part did Hezekiah play during this trying time? 2 Chronicles 32:2-3, 5.
Hezekiah cut off their water supply and fortified the city’s defenses. If we expect God to fight our battles, we must do our part. You may have to dig through rock! If you do, you can absolutely know and have confidence that God will then do the impossible.
7. How did Hezekiah inspire courage in his people? Verse 7-8.
Judah had done everything they could, but they relied on God for what they could not do. Because of that, God gave Hezekiah an overwhelming victory. God will keep the pressure on until you learn to let Him fight your battles.
Realize, this history is written for you. It doesn’t matter what worry, fear or siege of troubles you have. God says you can solve and conquer them. If you obey and trust God, you can solve any problem; you can face 10 million enemy soldiers!
8. Does God want you to be very courageous? Psalm 31:24.
This is why we need trials. You must know that God is there, that He will fight for you, and that He will win those challenges. God is getting you ready for what is coming. He wants you to be courageous and eager for battle.