Be Bold, Be Strong
By Daniel Rendelman
There exists a simple Hebrew statement that can give you support and strength to withstand the harshest of conditions. Even the worst parts of life can be changed when you speak this phrase in faith. Don’t think two ancient words can make a difference in your day? Think again. Consider the words “rak chazaq.”
For thousands of years the captains of the Israeli army have used the phrase “rak chazak” just before battle. As the soldiers would rush to war they would raise their voice and say “rak chazak or “be strong, be bold.” This is what they needed to hear back then and it is no doubt what you need today. It is what we all need. You can go through hell and not have hell burn you if you simply “rak chazaq.”
The ancient war cry of the nation of Israel can first be found in the Bible with the story of Moses as he is preparing the people to inherit the Promised Land. There is fear amuck and good reason to be weary. Over 20 hostile countries surround the Promised Land. Things could turn ugly at any time. To comfort and encourage the people, Moshe says, “chazak va’emats” or “be strong and courageous.” For short, this is “rak chazaq” in Hebrew. Need inspiration? Well, this phrase will answer your longing. Even if the enemy is closing in and troubles surround you on every side, you can be strong and have courage.
Life is not easy. Yes, there are those who seem to have it all together. But don’t be fooled. Everyone has skeletons in their closet. Everyone hurts and feels lonely or overwhelmed sometimes. It’s for this very reason that the Almighty spoke these words to the prophet Moses to us today… “chazak va’emats.” Let these words reverberate into your heart and bring you spiritual power. That’s why they were spoken in the first place. Again, the setting of Deuteronomy 31 is simple. Israel is about to walk into their promise. They have faced the fears of an evil Pharaoh and have had 40 years of wilderness wonderings. Worse yet, their fearless leader won’t be going with them. No, like a deathbed confession, Moses speaks his last words from his heart. The Land given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is theirs for the taking. All the people have to do is claim their inheritance and not allow fear to stop them. Victory had been assured. Miracles were already made. A younger, more vibrant leader was chosen to take the people into the Land. The people must simply rak chazak. Moses said, “The Lord YHWH will deliver them to you, and you must do to them all that I have commanded you. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you,” Deuteronomy 31.
We can learn a powerful principle about life from this story. The Israelites had been given the Land. It was called “promised” for a good reason. The Almighty had already predestined and provided the best for the people. The nation simply needed to receive the Land as a gift. This is similar to how victory has already been given by the Messiah’s death. The enemy of our souls has already been defeated. Satan loses in the end. And the best part is that like Israel, we don’t have to win. Get this. “Rak chazaq” teaches us that we don’t have to win any spiritual battles. All the fighting has been done. Victory is already assured for the future and for the present. We reign “from” the finished work of Messiah. He has spoiled principalities and defeated the devil for us. As believers we are to believe in what He has done and enforce His victory. You don’t have to fight “for” victory because we are to fight “from” victory. There is a difference. Does the idea of being a spiritual success sound silly? Well, be bold and be strong. Trust in what YHWH has done for you and enforce His power over the enemy. Rak chazaq!
This same Hebrew comment was repeated to Joshua in the book named after him. And it doesn’t end there. It is found throughout the Bible over and again. Read this phrase out loud and allow the power of the holy Hebrew language strengthen your spirit man… “rak chazak.” Be bold. Stand strong. Do not fear. Believe. Trust. Have faith. Take courage. Think of your struggles and trials and proclaim “rak chazak” over them. Envision the issues that are plaguing you and say these words – “rak chazak.”
We are each born as weak and feeble babies. Growth occurs naturally. Our body adapts and changes. Before long, that newborn you is walking and talking. Inches and pounds multiply. The infant turns into a teen and then a full grown adult. But, does a full grown adult really exist? While cellular growth plateaus, truly successful people never stop growing or learning. Victorious Bible believers constantly realize their need for forgiveness and grace. Regardless of what you know or even how long you have been saved, you have not arrived. Hopefully, you’ve left… you’ve left a lifestyle of fleshly behavior. You’ve left habits and hindrances. But friend, you have not arrived. Growth and development is needed to test your faith. You need to respond in a bold and courageous manner. What is causing you stress today? Don’t allow fear to hold you back. Deal with the anger that breeds unforgiveness. Be serious about your spiritual growth. You need to be bold and courageous and enforce the victory of Messiah. No matter where you go and no matter what you do, you can be successful as you follow YHWH and are emboldened by His Spirit. “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go,” Joshua 1:7. As you seek after YHWH you can be a success. Don’t stray from the straight and narrow.
If someone were to describe you, do you think they would say that you are “bold” and “courageous” or not? Well, they should. Part of our calling as followers of Messiah is to be strong. Yes, we are to be forgiving, loving, and willing to show grace. We are also to be bold and steadfast. Proverbs 28:1 says the righteous are as bold as a lion. You shouldn’t be meek as a kitten begging for milk. You have been chosen to be “bold and courageous.” Joshua 1:7 reads, “rak chazak va’emats.” The Hebrew word “emats” is similar to the word for truth, which is “emet.” You can be assured that your courage is truthful and right. Be strong in the right and be strong to do right. It is truth that you are can be strong because YHWH is strong. As you depend on Him you are infused with His power.
The Hebrew word “chazak” is weakened and watered down when we just translate it as “bold.” It means so very much more. The dictionary says this term could also be written, “to grow, to be urgent, to prevail. To be secure, to restore, to give strength, make firm, to prevail, repair, support, withstand, hold, to be bold.” The key to Biblical boldness is Deuteronomy 31. We can be empowered because YHWH is with us at all time. It is His presence that should empower you and give you strength. “Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. 8 The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,” Deuteronomy 31:7-8.
No money in the bank? Rak chazak. The doctor says you have cancer? Rak chazak. Friend and family mistreat you? Rak chazak. Be encouraged today that no matter what happens to you on the outside, nothing can remove YHWH’s presence from inside of you. YHWH is with you right now. He will be with you the next time you face a temptation or a tirade. You can be strong amidst sin and rebellion. In Joshua 1:18 the wages of sin as death is described. The righteous, who obey, are told to “be strong and courageous.”
Take courage that YHWH will not fail you. Sin doesn’t have to win. Death has no victory. The sting of grave has been removed. Have comfort and courage that nothing the enemy throws against you can bring defeat. You are more than a conqueror. Even if hell itself were to open every assault, you can still be bold and courageous. Just think of how bad it will be one day when the anti-Christ comes to power. Demonic power will control the world and demons will be roaming the face of the Earth. Even in the midst of tribulation YHWH says “rak chazak.” Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. Who is in the world? 1 John 4:3 says the “spirit of the antichrist is already in the world.” Throughout the Bible the Antichrist is called the king of Assyria. Even in the face of such an evil wicked ruler YHWH says to be bold and be strong. 2 Chronicles 32:7 prophetically says to us today, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him.”
Even as lawlessness spreads throughout the globe, Joshua 10:25 says that YHWH will take care of those who rebel. Satan will be crushed under our feet. We will crush his head. “Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the Lord will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.”Then Joshua put the kings to death.” You can overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony. Remember that you’ve not been given a spirit of fear but the spirit of power and love and a sound mind. This verse from 2nd Timothy sounds just like what we’ve been reading about from Joshua. With all of this in mind, a question that we must consider is what are we doing that is bold and courageous? What is your faith costing you? YHWH is calling us today to stand strong with others against the wiles of the enemy. Ephesians 6:10 says to “be strong in the power of his might.” This is just a Newer Testament version of Deuteronomy 31. The passage from Ephesians is a call to go back to Moses and look at the first time that YHWH originally spoke these words to the nation of Israel. As the Almighty carried the nation of Israel out of Egypt on eagle’s wings, so will He carry us as we trust in him. YHWH has something better ahead for you. He’s got a plan for your life and that plan includes you being bold against what may seem like insurmountable odds.
Rak chazak is needed in the challenging times of life. This is especially true when the heavens seem to go silent or things change overnight. In Judaism, a portion or “parasha” of the Law / Torah of Moses is read aloud weekly in the synagogues. When the congregation comes to the end of one book it is tradition to stand and proclaim “rak chazak.” Just imagine how the congregation finishes the last verse of Genesis and will start on Exodus during the following week. Together, worshippers rise and say “chazak, chazak v’nee chazek” or “be strong, be bold, and be strengthened.” As you flip through the pages and seasons of life, YHWH is saying this same thing to you. And just like the Hebrew worshippers, we are to say it aloud to other believers
One spiritual gift that is greatly needed in the body of Messiah today is encouragement. We have prophets who point to impending doom. And there are evangelists who describe hell fire and brimstone. Where are those who exhort and encourage though? Moshe was one who knew the importance of encouragement. He understood how Joshua would be timid to take Israel further. Just as Josh needed Moe, your friends and family need you! Accept the message of “rak chazak” today by sharing this teaching of this word with others. Look for opportunities to speak a word of hope. Send a text. Type an email. Visit and say a prayer. Share your boldness even if you don’t feel like it. That’s what the apostles did in Acts 4. When confronted with true persecution they said, “And now, YHWH, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word.” They prayed and believed for boldness. Then they walked in the power that was given to them by the resurrection.
Here are 3 ways to apply this message to your life today…
1) Speak the word over your life. When you get frustrated or stressed, say “rak chazak” during the situation. The Scriptures indicate that we can speak hope into hopeless situations by encouraging ourselves. The Psalmist says, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in YHWH, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my Elohim.” Do the same in your day. Keep this thought constantly before you.
2) Share this word with others. Encourage your friends and family to be strong in YHWH and in His mighty power. Include this phrase when you interact with others. Share this teaching. Do something to impact the lives of those nearby.
3) Wait on YHWH. Psalm 27:14 says to “wait upon YHWH, be bold, and He will strengthen your heart.” Trust the Father to move on your behalf. As you believe you can be emboldened. Waiting on YHWH means to serve Him like a good waiter serves your meal. Know that He is faithful and willing to do abundantly over anything you can imagine.