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Caleb is one of my favorite Old Testament characters. Shortly after the Israelites left Egypt, Moses sent twelve spies into Canaan. He gave them specific instructions. They were to:
It was quite a task and the twelve men did as they were told. But when it came time to give the report, ten of the men lamented over what they perceived to be the strength of the Canaanites and their cities. Joshua and Caleb disagreed.
Caleb quieted the people and boldly encouraged Moses to proceed. He believed the Israelites would be able to take the city because God was on their side. Caleb and Joshua were so insistent, the people wanted to stone them to death (Numbers 14:6-10). This experience is enough to nominate Caleb for the Faith Hero Hall of Fame, but it was not the end of his story.
We read in Numbers 14:26-38 that God pronounced a death sentence on all those who rebelled against Him. We know the children of Israel spent 40 years going around in circles in the desert. But let’s imagine it for a second.
Caleb and Joshua saw firsthand
what happened when the men disobeyed God and decided to invade the city after
they were told not to go (Numbers 14:39-45). Maybe some of their friends and
family members died in that unsuccessful battle.
Week after week, they walked in the wilderness. They passed the same landmarks many times. Months and years slipped away and so did the people they walked with. Men and women died in the wilderness and as they did, Caleb knew that if they had only believed they would have been safely established in their own homes.
I’m no Caleb, because I know I would have started a little bit of a grumble, “If y’all had just listened to what I said…” but there’s no record of that. What we do know is 40 years later, when it was time to do battle, Caleb was ready.
There’s a story in Joshua 14:6-12 I want us to read together:
Then the children of Judah came to Joshua in Gilgal. And Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him: “You know the word which the Lord said to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh Barnea. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart.
Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the Lord my God. So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children’s forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord my God.’
And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, as He
said, these forty-five years, ever since the Lord spoke this word to
Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this
day, eighty-five years old.
As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in. Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said.”
A typical 85-year-old man would have been giving a litany of his pains and all the things that no longer work. He would not be seeking permission to fight giants! But Caleb was no ordinary man. From him we learn as long as we put our trust in God, we’ll be able to accomplish much more than we ever dreamed possible.
I need a little bit of Caleb’s spirit. You see, Satan is always telling me what I can and can’t do. Sometimes, it seems as if he has moved in uninvited into my house to point out what he sees as my flaws and weaknesses. Caleb would have told Satan about all what God had done for him. He would told him how God kept him alive and how he was able to defeat mighty armies with God’s help.
Beloved, we can do that too. We have the same access to faith Caleb had. We too can believe God gives us the strength to do the impossible. We, like Caleb, can walk fearlessly into the battle because we know the same God who brought us through previous experiences, is the same God who walks with us at all times.