Catching Courage

by George F Spall

An intriguing little incident we can read about in the book of Judges chapter six assures us that we can catch courage as easily as we can catch a cold, or 'cold feet'. The latter used to be an expression which some rather unkindly people used to describe what was probably only caution and which did not deserve to be labelled cowardice. Anyway, let us see what can be done about catching courage.

The tale begins with Gideon who had just been commissioned by God (Judges 6) "to save Israel from the hand of the Midianites". He had accepted the responsibility and had his faith strengthened and his commission confirmed by a demonstration of a supernatural nature. Fire had leaped from solid rock to consume his sacrifice, and later that night, he had had direct communication from the Lord which led him to destroy an altar to the idol Baal and build another to the God of Israel.

It certainly was caution and not cowardice that had caused him to get his men to do this by night, for not merely his own family but the whole village would have prevented it had they known. "Came the dawn" as they say in the classics, and the damage done to the altar and the grove of trees was revealed! An inquest discovered that Gideon son of Joash was responsible.

The men of the city then ordered Joash to produce Gideon so they could wreak vengeance on the violator. It was then that Gideon's father caught courage from his son.

"Bring your son out here so we can kill him". That did it for old Joash. "And Joash said to all that stood against him: 'Will you plead for Baal? The god is big enough; let him fight for himself. He should hardly need your help if he is a god.'" Joash had caught courage and common sense from his son Gideon.

As we read the last few verses of the chapter we will discover that four of Israel's tribes also caught it, so contagious are the resources of the soul. We read: "And they came up to meet them" They had hot feet now, and not cold. Courage is indeed catching.

Poor Israel! In Gideon's day they had to hide from the Midianites. Not till Gideon's God lit the fires of resistance did the flames spread. It is exciting to be alive today. Tiny Israel, led by its veteran fighter, Menahem Begin, heart attacks and a stroke notwithstanding, is moving to possess the possessions God has given. God has lit the fires which may well become the conflagration so vividly described by Israel's prophets terminating with the return of Israel's Messiah.

No doubt, in the near future, there will be attacks on the little nation, possibly by tanks, and certainly by terror. The U.N., not often united on anything else apart from its condemnation of Israel, will unite in a war of nerves. There will be resolutions that will resolve nothing except to make Israel more resolute and lonely than ever. Propaganda will pour out through the international monthly magazines and weeklies, and calls be made by politicians for Israel to give back to the bandits what she had recovered from their aggression nineteen years earlier!

Catch courage from the example set by Gideon and Joash. Stand by Israel in this present crisis, speaking in rebuttal against untrue allegations and propaganda. Above all we need to pray constantly "for the peace of Jerusalem," and that the Lord will make "Jerusalem a praise in the earth" .