"But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters, and all liars ... their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death." (Revelation 21:8 NIV)

I have always wondered why the cowardly were excluded from the Kingdom of God and condemned to the Lake of Fire. The unbelieving are also so excluded from the future Kingdom. Being fearful or doubting does not seem to carry the same moral umbrage as murder, lying, sexual immorality and the rest. In 1 Thessalonians 5:14, we read, "Encourage the timid." (NIV)

Last month I mentioned a book by Paul Berman entitled The Flight of the Intellectuals. Mr. Berman's book included an analysis of leftist intellectuals and their abandonment of the cause of human rights in the Muslim world. At the same time, they attack Israel which has a better human rights record by far. Berman concludes that these intellectuals fail to speak out against these human rights abuses because they lack courage. He even notes the amazing response towards those who call for courage: they are accused of reflecting a right wing fascist orientation. Courage in the face of evil is not a right or left matter. Berman points this out and notes that failure to stand up against Islamic fascism is the real evil. Berman is a man of the left, so his criticism is all the more telling. I recommend his book.

Cowardice is a Grave and Terrible Evil

In reflecting on the last section of Berman's book, the text of Revelation 21 came to mind with immediate insight. I saw in a flash that the evil done as a result of cowardice is grave and terrible. Berman says that the reason for the intellectuals' withdrawal is that those who have stood up in the past now have body guards and have to be very wary; they are targets. Some, especially those with Muslim backgrounds, have to live in hiding. In Berman's interpretation, it is the videos of stonings, beheadings, bombings and torture that are behind the intellectuals' withdrawal. Better (and safer) to bash Israel!

Intellectuals are not necessarily people of courage. It is easy to stand up for human rights, the oppression of women, the withholding of equal rights, when those who are the object of the protest are not vicious and violent. People can protest against the Baptists for believing in male headship in the home! Standing up for human rights in France is much easier than in Myanmar (Burma). We commend the scores of Buddhists who lost their lives protesting against the oppressive Burmese government; the rivers ran red in that country. Being against the war in Afghanistan is easy; it takes no great courage. However, it takes great courage for the Afghans to stand up for human rights, to denounce the oppression of women and Taliban barbarism in the face of the very real chance of retribution from Islamic extremists. One shudders to think what may happen in Afghanistan should the Taliban regain power. Will the United States allow this to happen? The jury is still out. Many who shouted, "Hell, no, we won't go," during the Vietnam War were not the idealists that some claimed. All too often, they were just the spoiled or indulged cowards of that generation. An ideology can easily be embraced to justify one's cowardice. Belief and courage go together and are the two crucial characteristics of people who will stand up for right at the risk of their lives.

Rescue Those Being Led Away to Death

The Bible says, "Rescue those being led away to death, hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say we knew nothing of this, does not he who weighs the heart perceive it. Does not he who guards your heart know it? Will he not repay to each person according to what he has done?" (Proverbs 24:11-12)

The evil done through cowardice is incalculable. We take the Holocaust as one example. It is as if these verses in Proverbs were written as a commentary on the Holocaust. There were some courageous people who did just what Proverbs exhorted. Some lost their lives in the process, but thousands of Jews were saved by such courage. However, the greatest number of the citizens of Germany and other Nazi allied and conquered countries were silent or cooperative. I am not speaking just of churchmen who demonstrated for Hitler (yes, this did happen significantly). I am speaking of church people who simply embraced cowardice. Hitler's terrible work depended on this cowardice.

The United States and some of its NATO Allies are fighting a terrible war in Afghanistan. It is very difficult to win, but it can be done with sufficient will and courage. However, easier tasks, whereby hundreds of thousands could have been saved, were rejected. It was the lack of political courage in Western political leaders. For example, it would not have required great military might to have stopped the slaughter in Rwanda. The U.N. would not act. It would not take great military might to stop the slaughter in Darfur. The genocide goes on in spite of President Clinton's promise after Rwanda of "never again." One author catalogued the events of massive slaughter and genocide. He asked why these events were allowed to happen. His conclusion was a lack of political will and courage. It was shortsighted self-interest, for in most cases he noted that slaughter could have been easily stopped. Proverbs 24:11-12 should be our foundational foreign policy.

Paul's exhortation to encourage the timid is probably referring to those who have weak constitutions. It may refer to those who are overcoming psychological fears from the traumas of life. Holocaust survivors are often timid and afraid when a seemingly innocuous sound echoes back to them an event from their life in the camps. For such people, we are to show boundless love and compassion. The subjects in the Revelation passage are surely those who are willing to renounce Yeshua during persecution and those who allow others to be lead away to death without doing anything.

The Surprise of Who Will be Courageous

How much Anti-Semitism is rooted in this human cowardice? It is so easy to make Jews the target and not to face the reality of real evil. In times of terrible challenge, those who respond with courage are often people of no great attainment or success according to worldly standards. They are often meek and humble people like the famous Dutch Ten Boom family. Some of those who will stand up in the face of evil and fight are the very ones that Paul calls timid. The moral character of people is often not revealed until a time of trial.

When I consider the terrible evil rooted in cowardice, I can well understand the words of Revelation. The kind of cowardice that is willing to save one's own skin at the expense of the slaughter of many is a grievous sin. The cowardice that will deny Yeshua is also a heinous sin. Our faith gives us courage in the face of the most profound moral choices. Our example is Yeshua, who laid down His life for us and brings His courage into our hearts by His indwelling.

"Messiah in you, the hope of Glory."

By Daniel Juster



Dan Juster leads the overall ministry Tikkun International. Donate to Tikkun International.

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Comments:
07:32 04Aug10 Roberta Sanderson -
My deepest groaning is for a move of God that will bring the fear of the Lord upon our hearts! With HIM in the highest place in our lives, we will experience doing "all things through Christ, Who lives in me". He will be the One Who empowers us to be as bold as young lions in the face of any evil. Thank you for your courage in speaking the truth.

07:47 04Aug10 anon -
I have often wondered about this very passage that you bring revelation. Thank you so much for printing truth! It rings true in my spirit ... what is belief without courage? Nothing ...

08:14 04Aug10 Jerry/Connie White -
We agree with you - it is time that the church wake up and smell (face) the roses - the church has slept too long and now, what is sin is no longer sin but just an excuse. The World does not need any more excuses - they need to know personally the Reason - they need to know personally their Messiah. Thank you for writing the truth.

09:01 04Aug10 DP -
This is so true. Just yesterday, the building of the mosque in NYC was approved. Cowards ... fearful ... yes. This is about giving up territory to the enemy. 09:05 04Aug10 Steve Miller -
I am in agreement with everything you say about cowardice but I apply it differently. What I see in almost all ministries that focus on Israel is a cowardliness to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Most "Jewish" ministries are intimidated from presenting Jesus clearly and directly, saying they have to be discrete with the Jews, what you end up with almost every time is compromise. The only thing that gives any ministry legitimacy is the presentation of Jesus Christ Himself. If he is not presented there is no Gospel, there is no anointing, there is no real ministry. If there is no Jesus, there is no legitimacy.
Our example is John the Baptist. every time He was prodded he deflected and pointed to Jesus, "He must increase I must decrease ... behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." Jesus said he was the greatest man that ever lived, why? I believe it is because he pointed to Jesus more that any man that ever lived to that day. Jesus' very next words speaks of us. He said, "he that is least in the Kingdom of God is greater then John the Baptist."
If this is true then we need to point, proclaim, testify, preach of Jesus Christ more then John the Baptist. This needs to be our passion, our conviction.
I challenge you, if you want to see the Glory and power of God at work in your ministry, sanctify the presentation of Jesus Christ in ministry and He will show up to with powerful confirming signs and wonders. Jesus is the wisdom and power of God.

  -- Dr Juster replies: Thank you for this comment. Our ministry - the Tikkun family of ministries - does believe in boldly presenting Yeshua. I don't think your post contradicts my article, but is another example of cowardliness. Yes, when we are not first of all concerned to present the Gospel we are off, lose the anointing, and lose legitimacy.

10:18 04Aug10 Karen -
This is a real eye-opener and it resonates within the heart. I've been praying that I'll have the courage when the time comes to stand for and with the Jews but the verses from Proverbs convict me of the need to become aware now of those that are being led to the slaughter and take an active role. We have been fooled too long into thinking that this life is about enjoying ourselves and fulfilling our own desires, but we are being tested every day on the important issues of life.

10:31 04Aug10 C.N. -
ust recently ministered to someone who had been under cowardice. Jesus came to him as a 5 year old and asked him to come out from under the table where he was hiding. The Lord took him in his arms and comforted him allowing him to mature in this area. Perhaps intimidation from an adult had caused him to cower. It is reversible!! Now there is a definite realigning of words to reflect courage!

10:51 04Aug10 Mary L. Mossman -
When I think how many times I have read these verses in Proverbs and Revelation and not comprehended their meanings I am appalled. Cowardliness is a subject that each Christian must confront! Thank you for bringing it to our attention.

11:17 04Aug10 Tom -
I have preached Rev. 21:8 for DECADES. I agree with you 100%. As I'm sure you know, Greek rules of grammar placed a series of items according to their importance - the MOST important always came FIRST. Cowardice then outweighed all those sins which followed. Examine vocal pro-islamic "sympathizers" a bit closer and you'll notice that those who would allow Islamic freedoms are the same who would deny Christian freedoms. They think they will make a pact with the devil, but they forget that moslems (no, I did NOT mean to say "muslims") have no sympathy for atheists, they insist on CONVERSION to Islam ... a very ACTIVE and carefully monitored/evaluated PRACTICE of the Islamic religion ... or they still lose their heads. Left-wing traitors are the worst kind of cowards ... those who turn against their own in the hope of profit, or of saving their own necks. These are ALWAYS disgustingly WEAK people, usually males, (and NO, I didn't mean to say MEN ... there's a difference!).

  -- Dr Juster replies: Your post is stated in stronger terms than my article, but alas, it is all too true. There are other books that make the point well, Glazov's United in Hate is one such. We see the same now with Oiver Stone's coddling Iran and seeking context for Hitler. God help us.

13:29 04Aug10 Jesse Bruton -
Thank you for the exhortation to be a courageous man. I have never heard a sermon on this. What a shame! The enemy works hard to silence and immobilize God's people through fear. Too many resort to being simply "nice church-going people." May this roar of yours from the heart of the Lion awaken us all to greater works!

14:06 04Aug10 KJ -
I think that the answer to Rev 21:8 is 1.Tim 1:7 - They want to be teachers, but they understand neither their own words nor the matters about which they make such emphatic pronouncements.

16:58 04Aug10 Keith Miller -
I had often wondered who the cowards are in this verse; are they simply afraid of everything and not trusting G_D for protection? I came to the conclusion that cowards are those who do not readily publicly proclaim Yeshua or are ashamed of being a believer. I never had real power in my walk until I started boldly proclaiming Yehsua and risking scoffing and persecution. But thank you so much for expounding and shedding more light on this passage of scripture.

17:41 04Aug10 Therese Langevin -
Yes, I have thought about that verse regarding cowards not getting into the Kingdom of God. It is very sobering. It is important to hear the Lord regarding when and what issue to take a stand on. We need to choose carefully what we get involved in. We can not go in all kinds of directions at one time. It is time for the church to rise up and take a stand on the important issues.

17:47 04Aug10 IV -
I totally agree with the article and want to add that true courage is when we manage to overcome our own limits by trusting God. It can be different to different people but when we manage to go beyond our own shadows, reaching for God, we express true courage.

17:48 04Aug10 Becky Dymond -
You capture the essence of cowardice: it is simply honoring and preferring self over others. The heart of salvation is restoring our ability to "act against oneself," preferring another. Faith begins with preferring God over our self serving inclinations, and matures to prefer others above ourselves as we emulate our Elder Brother, Yeshua.

18:22 04Aug10 Phyllis McDowall -
The true followers of Yeshua will be seen in whether you are prepared to suffer with Him or not. The scripture says that if we are willing to suffer with Him we will reign with Him in Glory. True followers take up their cross daily but cannot do it in their own strength but with His help alone. WE must pray at all times in sincerity knowing the evil times we live in but with the hope (eternal) that He knows and sees it all. We need the compassion in our hearts too: the true love of God towards His people. Evil is coming to its full. Be a Daniel and be staunch in our Faith towards Our God at all times in what ever circumstances. The fear of man and what he can do is frighening but Our God is able to take us through any trial if we are true to the end. Our Messiah is coming very soon may we be found ready and true.

18:30 04Aug10 Pamela -
When we actually KNOW "Messiah in you, the hope of Glory", we understand that in HIS Righteousness we find courage, since our "old man/nature" is dead, and our "new nature" is seated in the heavenlies in Christ Yeshua, so our courage for all things is in Him Who is now resident in us. Without Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). This article has inspired me to think about courage and why this would end up being included in Revelation as it was. I had not seen it so clearly before. We all need to see this.

21:46 04Aug10 Max Legg -
This is an excellent and true article. Cowardice is a terrible sin. In fact it's hypocrisy. Will definitely get that book, "The Flight of the Intellectuals", by Mr. Paul Berman.

22:19 04Aug10 Shirley Braggs -
This is such a timely article. More than ever, we are seeing people choose to ignore atrocities committed by radical Islam and those same people condemn Israel and the Jewish people at every opportunity. In my opinion, it is just as cowardly to hope for Yeshua to come and rapture the International Church, but leave the Chosen People of G_d to receive all the persecution and tribulation. It is much akin to the whole scenario that happened in Nazi Germany in my mind. Many people who called themselves believers watched as the Jewish people were being slaughtered. We know there were many Christians like the ten Booms, but they were not the majority. Those cowardly people hid in their churches and homes and said to themselves, "Glad it's not me," and "I can't stand up for them at the risk of my own life." I pray the whole Body of Yeshua will stand with Israel and stand for the sovereignty of G_d, choosing to get behind the Commander of Heaven's Armies as Joshua was instructed, instead of choosing to believe He is on their side and that's all that counts. They need to see it from Heaven's perspective.

22:59 04Aug10 Kim G. -
I believe that the cowardly here refers to those who 'call' them believers but who will not stand with Israel. 'You will say, Lord, Lord ... and I will say I never knew you!' As for politicians and intellectual left elites ... most are of the world and are in agreement with ha'satan anyway. Consider Pres. Carter and his professing to be a Christian and he is a big anti-Semite. I believe Pres. BO is also an anti-Semite and not a believer. He believes in 'collective salvation' ... from the pit! We can not expect brave things from non-believers, but we are to expect brave things from true believers and I think this is happening in some circles. I see Jews who once were very liberal, are finally getting a clue ... they now understand who stands with them and Israel. My prayer daily is that the Church will rise up and be someone that will provoke Israel back to her Husband.

05:59 05Aug10 Barbara Gleeson -
You have written an message that has been growing in my heart as the Holy Spirit has given understanding of the very thing that has not been recognized and taught. It's a word that is unrecognizable of its subtle empowerment to make a God fearing person make a decision that otherwise would not. Why? Because the cowardliness has never been dealt with, as with most of us we would have all asked as the disciples did at the Last Supper, 'is it I?' recognizing within them the awful possibility that betraying Jesus could even be something they could do, enough to ask, "Is it I Lord?' and I too have recognized cowardliness in me. I despise that I have it, but I praise God it has been revealed. It's in the LIGHT now, and once the Light has revealed the hidden, it is exposed and loses it's power. There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed. Everything is being exposed, in us, in others, not one will be left in the dark. Oh God! Expose our cowardliness so we can crucify that too! May your Spirit rise up in every hidden area of our life given over to a boldness of living for you in mercy, truth and love. Thank you sir, for this article. It is one of the best truths overlooked in our bible teachings today.

08:04 05Aug10 Lauren LaSalle Urena -
I am thanking the Lord right now for this article! I am a member of the Isaiah 40 Prayer Team that meets every Tues eve to pray for Israel and the Jewish people as well as our nation. Tomorrow we are going to Washington DC to pray at some strategic sites. (White House, Supreme Court, etc.) The next day we are going to the Holocaust Museum. I am printing out this article as I believe it will encourage us as well as ignite us. As I read your article, I was reminded of a quote I read as I entered Yad Vashem in Israel. It said, " A country is not just what it does --- it is also what it tolerates". (Kurt Tucholsky) Oh Lord, what are we tolerating as Christians, as Americans, as individuals and as a nation? Forgive us and give us the courage to put legs on our faith to go and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to establish His Kingdom on the earth. For the Isaiah 40 Team, Thursday in Washington DC is prayer and Friday at the Holocaust Museum is why. Thank you so much Lord for the timing of this revelatory article!

09:51 05Aug10 Daniel Buffenmeyer -
I, too, often wondered about the passage discussed in the article. The passage always seemed a little harsh to me. However, I am forced to realize my own cowardice and try, with Yeshua's help to overcome it.

11:54 05Aug10 Albert Coulson -
I agree with you. We need to have the courage to stand for truth. I believe the center of the antichrist's kingdom will come from Islam (Joel Richardson & Walid Shoebat). I believe that we are however weak broken people, that are prone to walk in fear. We need God's grace in being courageous.
I believe that God is always previous - giving us the desire to be courageous. We need then to set our will to do as God commands, for God will not move against our free will. He then gives us the real power to be courageous.
The Lord's coming is very near. Though I walk in the shadow of death, He is with me and comforting me.

17:10 05Aug10 - Charles Reece -
As the great 18th-century Irish philosopher, Edmund Burke - and even Albert Einstein, once said: "All that is required for EVIL to prevail is for good men to do nothing".

22:54 22Aug10 - Ruben Cado -
Thank you for this article and for the consideration of the value of real courage in the Christian.

07:57 02Sep10 Donna Holloway -
When Leaders take on the form of a servant, and lay down their lives taking on no reputation or fame for themselves - self crucified with Christ - so Messiah can live in us. Then we no longer live to exalt itself, he has full possession and complete rest in our tabernacled, laboring together in this present day harvest!

12:14 02Sep10 Clyde Williamson -
Your article 'The Cowardly are Damned' of September 2.10 brought a clear word to my heart. Immediately Ephes.6:14 came to mind - "Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place," When I combined this with Isa 59:17 a prayer for His zeal to come upon His Body began stirring within my spirit.

07:05 07Sep10 Lor Cunningham -
With Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the apostle Paul, the countless martyrs preceding us and dying for THE TRUTH --Yeshua-- today, we must pray for His grace and courage to stand and speak out for those who can not speak for themselves -- for the millions of aborted babies to the unnumbered ones whose slaughter is ignored or minimized. Praise God that He is a God of ultimate justice and mercy! 05:29 21May11 Lynn Meckley -
This article is very insightful and clicks with observations I've made. I live in Indonesia and at times have found that people love to demonstrate against US and Israel because it's popular to do that and not many here will oppose them. Many demonstrators around the world would be crushed for rallying against their own governments, so they get riled up about things that won't get them in trouble.


Also in this issue of the newsletter:

Marty Shoub: Made For Each Other
Eitan Shishkoff: Never Give Up On Youth
Ariel Blumenthal: East Asia, Ancestor Worship and the Revelation of Yeshua (Part One)