Caleb is one of my favorite unsung heroes in the Bible. He doesn’t get much attention in the Bible and his name isn’t even popular today. How many boys do you know with the name Caleb? Yet he is a remarkable special man. This blog continues a series in which he tells his story.
We were a slave nation with slave mentality and no war experience. Here we wanted the very best land anywhere which was controlled by the strongest warriors in any nation. But God had said it would be ours and God’s word is always true. Anyway, I was one of the ones chosen to spend 40 days traveling 250 miles north through the land, then back again.
When we returned we reported that the land was great! It was truly a land of milk and honey. However the people living there were powerful and lived in large fortified cities. Giants even lived there.Many of the people were fearful and didn’t take God at His word. That’s why Moses wrote about Joshua and me. He used us as an example to the next generation of how the first generation should have trusted God.
Moses quoted the very words I said: “Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, ‘We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.’” (Num 13:30)I remembered another impossible situation, when we were trapped at the Red Sea, and God said He would bring victory and He did: “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.” (Ex. 14:13)
Do YOU remember God’s promised protection when you are tempted to fear? He promises you victory when you are afraid: “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Ps. 118:6) “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me.” (Ps. 23:4) “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isa. 41:10) The people in my day didn’t trust God but let their fear guide them. They wanted to kill Moses, Joshua, and me, choose new leaders, and go back to Egyptian bondage!
We tried to convince them to trust God but they wouldn’t listen. (Num 14:5) “Then Moses and Aaron fell facedown in front of the whole Israelite assembly gathered there. 6 Joshua, son of Nun and Caleb, son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes 7 and said to the entire Israelite assembly, ‘The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. 8 If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. 9 Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them.’ 10 But the whole assembly talked about stoning them. “
The people knew this in their minds but let their emotions take over. They saw only their own weakness. But it is not our strength, just His, that brings victory. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” II Cor. 12:9The result of their lack of trust was that we couldn’t enter the land but had to wander for 38 years, until 40 years after we had left Egypt. Then those under 40 years of age, the 2nd generation, would be able to make their decision.
But God rewarded Joshua and me by telling us we’d be an exception and would go into the land. God rewards belief in Him and what He says. Num 14:23 “Not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their forefathers. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it. 24 But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it. … 29 In this desert your bodies will fall — every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me. 30 Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb, son of Jephunneh and Joshua, son of Nun. … 37 these men responsible for spreading the bad report about the land were struck down and died of a plague before the LORD. 38 Of the men who went to explore the land, only Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh survived.”Moses wasn’t bragging about me, but using me as an example to be followed. You can be an example to those around you of someone who trusts God.
Notice two things Moses points out about me. First he says I have a “different spirit” than the other 10 spies and the people who didn’t trust God. You can have a different spirit, too, if you let the Holy Spirit control you. “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (Phil 4:13). The second thing Moses says about me is that I “follow God wholeheartedly.” In fact, the Bible says this about me six times! It means I fully, completely, passionately, faithfully, loyally follow God. There was nothing between me and Him. Moses defined it this way when he said we are to love the Lord with all our heart, soul and strength (Deut 6:5).
You see, it’s possible to follow God but not completely. The Jews followed God out of Egypt but not into the Promised Land. Maybe you’ve followed Him out of sin by salvation but aren’t following Him faithfully enough to bring you into your place of victory.Following God completely means there is no gap between you and Him. Are you as close to God as possible? Is there a gap between you and Him?
Several times in Numbers and once in Deuteronomy Moses repeats that the Jews lost entrance into the land because of not believing God while Joshua and I did receive what God promised because we did believe Him.But that brings up a problem: if what God says is 100% true. Why didn’t everyone receive the land? Are God’s promises conditional?
Yes, many are conditional upon faith and obedience. This is always clearly stated. God had told the Jews at Mt Sinai, “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession” (Ex 19:5). He also said the same about receiving the land promised them (Ex 23:20-33). The land was given to Abraham’s descendants forever, unconditionally, but enjoyment of the blessings by this generation was dependent on obedience. You can have victory, blessing, and spiritual growth as God promised but that, too, is conditional on trust and obedience.
Other promises are clearly unconditional, no condition is stated. God said Abraham’s descendants would be a nation forever and the land of Palestine would always be theirs. They couldn’t lose the land, but they could forfeit their opportunity to enjoy the blessings of the land. When you accept Jesus as Savior you are His unconditionally. Lack of faith and obedience can keep you from enjoying your privileges and blessings, but you’ll still be His child.
Remember that partial obedience brings partial blessing. The Jews left Egypt but didn’t enter the land. God’s statements are always true, but often the benefits are conditional on obedience. The more completely we trust and obey, the more we are blessed. This applies to little things as well as big things in life. Sometimes we have major decisions to make where we need to trust God as revealed in His Word. I had that when I had to decide if I would trust God to give us the land or not. Other times we trust God for daily life, same thing each day – we still need to trust God in that.
PROMISES FOR US TODAY
ALL OUR NEEDS MET
For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. Ps. 84:11
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name sake. Ps. 23:1-3
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Mt. 6:33
And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:19
I will never leave you or forsake you. Hebrews 13:5
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Mt. 7:7
If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer. Mt. 21:22
And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. John 14:13
You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it John 14:14
Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him. John 5:14:15
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:24
You will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will hear you. Jeremiah 29:l2
BLESSING THROUGH TRIALS
Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. Ps. 126:5
As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem. Isa. 66:13
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
You know the testing of your faith develops perseverance. James 1:3
No temptation/testing has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted/tested beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted/tested, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. 1 Cor. 10:13
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield. Ps. 91:4
“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble I will deliver him & honor him. With long life will I satisfy him & show him my salvation. Psalm 91:14-16
(If I can answer questions or offer personal counsel, or if you would like a free copy of my Spiritual Warfare Handbook, email me at Jerry@ChristianTrainingOrganization.org or download it from http://sw.christiantrainingonline.org/. My next book, Spiritual Warfare in the Bible, which is a more advanced treatment of spiritual warfare, is also available there for free.)