Chazak, Chazak, Be Strong and Courageous
We are living in times that leave us all needing encouragement. While reading the Scriptures today, I remembered Chazak!
1 Chronicles 28:20-Then David said to Solomon, his son, “Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished." TLB
The Tree of Life Bible version I read from says ‘Chazak!’ BEFORE it says Be strong.
Here is what Chazak means: (kha-ZAHK) “Well done!” – said on completing a book of Scripture. Also,“Courage!” Chazak v’ematz means “be strong and of good courage.” ‘Be strong, be strong, and may we be strengthened. Chazak! Be courageous! Do not be afraid or tremble before them. For Adonai your God—He is the One who goes with you. He will not fail you or abandon you.”
After Moses’s death, Joshua needed strength and encouragement as the new leader of Israel. In Joshua Chapter 1, God encourages Joshua three times with these same words as he prepares to lead the nation into the Promised Land.
The Bible is full of examples of moral, spiritual, intellectual, and social strengths that God expects His children to emulate and excel at in our journey from glory to glory. I’ve come to know in my own life that it’s “all about the journey” because that’s where we can practice what we have learned. The destination is an arrival, but the journey is where we move and thrive.
Kefa (Simon Peter) risked his life when he cut off a servant of the kohen gadol’s (or High Priest’s) ear to defend His precious Messiah and keep Him from being taken away.
“Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the servant of the kohen gadol, and cut off his right ear. Now the servant’s name was Malchus. So Yeshua said to Peter, “Put the sword into the sheath! The cup the Father has given Me—shall I never drink it?” John 18:10
Unfortunately, Peter confused divine chazak with impetuousness—or, going after something without stopping to seek God’s will in the matter.
Yeshua, however, understood His role in the Father’s plan for mankind and obeyed that plan. He accessed immense spiritual strength and courage born from His trust in and reliance on The Father. Performing God's will and not His own, (or Peter's or anyone else's), Yeshua allowed the soldiers to arrest Him. And you know what that obedience bought!
The Hebrew word for strength, chazak, begins with the deep guttural and throaty ch (chet) and ends with a strong letter k (koof), with the confident z (zayin) in between. It has the sound of strength and force.
Ask yourself, what kind of chazak does God expect me to have, and when does He want me to use it? After all, there are a lot of risky situations we can encounter.
“Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; He will not fail you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 TLV [i]
In Hebrew, words can have more than one meaning. ‘Be strong and courageous’ and ‘well done’ are words each of us long to hear. They are uplifting and help us know that we can do, or are doing, a great job! These are words spoken over us by parents and mentors, edifying us when we are very young and as we mature. Do we long to hear these words from our Heavenly Father as well? Are we mindful of listening to His encouragement, direction, and doing everything we do to please Him?
In 1 Chronicles 28, King David spoke to the officials of the tribes and officers of the divisions that served him, the commanders, the stewards, palace officials, mighty men, and senior warriors. He stood up and addressed them, saying that he had it in his heart to build a house of rest for the Ark of the Covenant.
The Lord told King David that he MAY NOT build the house of rest for the Ark of the Covenant because he is a man of war, and he had shed blood. Here we see King David wanting to do something good for God. But it was his idea, not God’s desire and plan. This exchange between God and David is an excellent lesson for us and begs the question; Do we go ahead with our project or God’s? Also, if we want to do something that we perceive is for God, do we have clean hands and pure hearts? Are we flexible enough to change our plans accordingly?
King David obeyed the Lord and was pleased that God had made him king over Israel from the House of Judah and that of all his sons. He chose Solomon to build the Temple and listen to what God said in response to this in verse 7: I will establish his kingdom forever if he continues strong in keeping my commandments and my rules, as he is today.’ (TLV) (emphasis added)
Oh this verse is full of promises from God. WOW! But, God did say IF and we read in Scripture that Solomon did not keep the IF! God goes on to charge him, in the hearing of the assembly of Israel, to KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS so that “the good land may be possessed as an inheritance for the children!”
How can we receive divine courage?
Sandwiched between two of the commands to be strong and courageous (chazak v’amatz), God explains to Joshua how to access this strength and courage.
“This book of the Torah should not depart from your mouth—you are to meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. For then you will make your ways prosperous and then you will be successful. Have I not commanded you? Chazak! Be strong! Do not be terrified or dismayed, for Adonai your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:8-9 TLV [i]
Joshua’s physical courage to enter into dangerous battles with pagan warriors and giants would be spiritually strengthened by God’s presence wherever he went, helping to ensure his victory, but only if Joshua kept God’s Word in his mind and heart — and obeyed.
We must be on guard to not let discouragement replace God’s Spirit resting on us or living in us.
When we are discouraged, we struggle to take even the smallest action to fulfill God’s hopes and dreams for our lives. Nor are we fulfilling our call as ambassadors of the Lord. Joshua could not afford to have any such discouragement. For the sake of Israel entering into the Promised Land, he had a mission to complete. His focus was to be in God’s presence wherever he would go.
There are many times the Word of God presents us with an if and then situation! When the time comes for ‘if and then’ in our lives, our discipline should lead us to make the choices that will bless us, by God. If we seek Him, we will find Him, and we will know the way He wants us to go. Then, as we follow His way, we will walk in His promises.
In some Jewish synagogues, when they finish reading one of the five books of Moses (Torah), it is customary for them to shout out:
“Chazak, chazak v’nitchazek!” “Be strong, be strong, and may we be strengthened.” Or “Let us strengthen one another!” It is a reminder that the value of studying the Bible is not merely for personal spiritual development but to strengthen one another morally, spiritually, and intellectually so that we can step into courageous acts of obedience to God’s Word.
Now take a listen to the song Chazak Amenu - Voices of Israel 2003 and be blessed as you do. https://youtu.be/jXkbuLGC5_w
Chazak! Be strong and of good courage, let us be strengthened by you, your Word, your Holy Spirit, and by our faith in your power.
Love in Yeshua,
[i] Tree of Life (TLV) Translation of the Bible. Copyright © 2015 by The Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society.