Courage: amats (Strong’s 553)
Root: אָמַץ (aleph, mem, tsade) [Sounds like aw-mawtz]
We all have days when we feel hopeless and without courage, and it’s difficult to face even the simplest things in life. But one of the greatest things about having a faith in YHWH is the freedom you get in putting your trust in something greater than you. Because, let’s face it, I am not very great, very much of the time. I’m far from perfect… I struggle with self-doubt and I mentally beat myself up on a regular basis. I can’t live perfectly, but in YHWH I can live courageously!
I love the prayerful song “Whatever Comes” by Rend Collective which asks God to be these things for us:
Be my bravery when I am trembling
Be my courage when my heart is caving in
Be the fireside when I am wandering
Be my Father, whatever comes
The Bible makes it very clear that we can rely on God to give us courage because He is always watching out for those who have a relationship with Him. In the Tanakh courage is almost always connected to God being with us.
[Moses (Moshe):] “Be strong and have courage [w-im’tsu], do not be afraid or tremble at them, for YHWH your God is the One who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”
I Chronicles 28:20
Then David said to his son Solomon, “Be strong and courageous [wey-ehmatz], and act; do not fear nor be dismayed, for YHWH God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you nor forsake you until all the work for the service of the house of YHWH is finished.
[YHWH:] “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous [w-ehmats]! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for YHWH your God is with you wherever you go.”
Courage is always available to us because God is always with us… wherever you go! Suffice it to say, if you are a believer and you do not have courage then you are forgetting that God is with you. You’ve turned your face away, He hasn’t!
If you have a relationship with YHWH then He is present and there for you, and you can count on it:
[YHWH:] ‘Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God.
I will give you courage [imatz’tika] , I will also help you, I will also uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
And if you are comfortable in that knowledge then you should SHARE it with those in need:
Strengthen the hands of the weak, and to the knees of the feeble give courage [ametzu].
Say to those with anxious heart, “Have strength, fear not. Behold, your God will come with vengeance; the recompense of God, He shall come and save you.”
Who is the most courageous person in the Bible?
Here is just a small sample of the many people of courage found in the Old Testament (Tanakh) and the New Testament (B’rit Chadashah):
- Moses facing down the Pharaoh of Egypt (Exodus 7-12)
- Tamar claiming her widow rights (Genesis 38)
- Joshua marching into the Promised Land (Joshua 1-5)
- Rahab hiding the Hebrew spies in Jericho (Joshua 2)
- Ruth giving up her homeland and faith to follow Naomi and her God (Ruth 1)
- David fighting Goliath (1 Samuel 17)
- Esther standing up against genocide (Book of Esther)
- Elijah opposing the tyranny of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel (1 Kings 19)
- Mary facing social stigma of being an unwed mother (Luke 1, Matt. 1:18-25)
- Stephen sharing his faith, resulting in his murder (Acts 7)
These are all incredible examples of courageous people. Note that five out of ten of those people were ancestors of Yeshua (hinting the answer to the question)! The one who was more courageous than all of those was Yeshua Himself.
Yeshua (Jesus) grew up knowing that His life on earth would end painfully and horribly. Knowing that torment, humility, and pain was waiting must have been a heavy heavy burden to carry. If we knew the moment of our death, and the possible pain that might come along with it, I suspect we would not handle it with as much composure. Perhaps we might want to make our own decision and cut our life short on our own time, by our own means. But Yeshua lived every day facing the fact that pain was coming and it did not break Him. That is courage! He showed compassion, kindness, grace and humility to everyone He came in contact with and barely made a peep about what He knew He would face. There was no whining or sulking or outward bouts of desperation… and that, in itself, is an indication of the incredible amount of courage Yeshua had.
We know it was on his mind and He felt the sorrow of His fate, but He did not let that hinder His ministry. Here’s what we read moments before He would be betrayed by Judas and then taken for trial and then put to death:
Then they came to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus told His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”
He took with Him Peter, James, and John, and began to be deeply troubled and distressed. And He told them, “My soul is consumed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch.”
Going a little farther, He fell to the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour would pass from Him. “Abba, Father,” He said, “all things are possible for You. Take this cup from Me. Yet not what I desire, but what You (desire).”
It wasn’t just the fear of pain that consumed Yeshua with sorrow. I believe that He knew God would have to turn His face away from Him… Yeshua, for a moment would be utterly alone. To take on the sins of the world and to fulfill the Covenant between God and humanity, God had to turn away, and Jesus had to feel the full weight of our sins, from guilt, and shame, and loathing, and envy, and rage, and hate, and condemnation… If you believe that God and Yeshua are One, as I do, then for this brief moment there was a separation, and Yeshua was completely alone. That must have been… utterly… terrifying.
Matthew 27:45-46, 50-51
From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?”… When Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, He yielded up His spirit. At that moment the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth quaked and the rocks were split.
It is because of that moment that you will never be alone! YHWH did it once to someone He loved, so that He would never have to do it again to you! With this knowledge you should have the full assurance that you can live COURAGEOUSLY, in God’s presence, free from the burdens of sin!
It is quite common in our English Bibles that the word courage (amats) is translated as “strength”. This mistake is understandable because it is God’s courage that gives us the powerful inner strength that we need to live to the fullness that YHWH intended for us. Take Psalm 80, for example… almost all translations talk of the Son of Man [or “One”] whom You made strong for Yourself. But the passage should read that God gave the Son of Man courage, which ultimately gave Him the strength to face the cross… and gave us the gift of savation:
Let Your hand be upon the Man of Your right hand, upon the Son of Man to whom You gave courage [ematz’ta].
Then we shall not turn back from You; revive us, and we will call upon Your name.
YHWH God of hosts, restore us; cause Your face to shine upon us, and we will be saved.
Only through the death of Yeshua can we have full peace. Yeshua had the courage… the God-given inner strength.. to die as a servant for us, and save us as our King! Don’t let that sacrifice be for nothing! Live courageously, love your Creator, and don’t look back!
Next week: Gift