Characters of Courage: Old Testament
by Kathy Penrod
I have had a few people on my mind lately. These aren’t people I have ever met here on this earth but they are of such caliber that they inspire me to be a better person, generations after they lived on earth. Each demonstrates courage differently but equally as noble.
Good is all around. When we are unable to find it in the world around us we can escape to the scriptures to find the good God meant for us to know.
When people think of Moses, they think of the man who led a mass exodus of Israelites out of bondage. They think of a man with unwavering faith who was confident enough in God’s promises to part the Red Sea. Thoughts of Moses often are paired with the 10 commandments and the Law of Moses.
But what is often overlooked is Moses’s insecurities. Specifically, his impairment of speech. In Exodus 4:10 (KJV) it reads: “And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue”
Here is a man that is supposed convince the leader of Egypt to release HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of slaves, call down miracles from Heaven, lead this mass exodus with a population similar to that of Milwaukee Wisconsin (about 600,000 of just men), instill a fear of the God of Israel into mildly committed Hebrews and implement a list of commandments given by God, Himself, to these half-hearted followers.
Moses had to do all this and more, with a speech impediment of some type. At times he had to have his brother speak for him. Yet, in spite of this weakness of his, Moses was hugely influential to the building of God’s kingdom.
Could it be that what we see as weaknesses are actually necessary traits that allows God to work through us?
Joshua led the Israelites after Moses did. Having seen a lot of what Moses faced with this group of people, I have to wonder what his heart felt like when he was given responsibility over them.
Joshua, just like Moses, called down miracles from Heaven. Joshua inspired his people by saying “Sanctify yourselves: for to morrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” (Joshua 3:5 KJV)
And then, Joshua asked his army to walk around Jericho a bunch of times. Really quiet like.
I just know there had to be one or two soldiers that questioned what Joshua was asking them to do. But Joshua didn’t waiver. He knew this was God’s will and wasn’t about to change it.
I love his courage and his faith.
Nehemiah was the definition of courage. His writings are sandwiched between the Books of Ezra and Esther. It’s so easy to pass by him without realizing his contribution to the world.
The Jewish people had escaped from Babylon and returned to the ruins of their city, Jerusalem. The people were distraught to see the city devastated and the surrounding, formerly protective wall, in piles of rubble. It was a time when the Jews needed to rebuild physically and spiritually. The wall was not only a necessity in their day but it was also, in my opinion, a symbol of their spiritual strength.
Nehemiah, who at the time, was serving the King of Syria asked for permission to oversee the rebuilding of the wall. Once that permission was granted, Nehemiah went to work. But it wasn’t just as simple as building a massive wall in 52 days (Nehemiah 6:15). As soon as he and those working with him began the rebuilding project, opposition set in like crazy. Nehemiah and his friends were mocked both verbally and physically. At one point, it got so bad that the builders of the wall held their tools in one hand and a defensive weapon in the other hand. It is awe inspiring to me to think of the dedication and bravery inside Nehemiah’s heart.
When taunted and dared to descend from the wall, Nehemiah’s response was classic, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down.” (Nehemiah 6:3)
This guy was so committed to what he was doing that no matter the pressure applied by his adversaries, he was not going to give in. He didn’t care what anyone said or did, he was about the Lord’s work.
I often wonder how I can get to that same place where I can ignore my adversaries and not care what the world thinks. How can I be more like Nehemiah?