One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Tuesday, April 16, 2013: Joshua 13:1-14:15
10 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. 11 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. 12 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.” Joshua 14:10-12 (NKJV)
Two of the most impressive individuals in all of Scripture are Joshua and Caleb. We first meet this pair in Numbers 13-14 when Moses sent them along with 10 other spies to scope out the Promised Land. What this team of 12 saw in Canaan caused a distinct and contrasting reaction. To all 12, the land was good. It was "flowing with milk and honey" (Num. 13:27). But, to 10 of them, the obstacles in the land were insurmountable. The fierce inhabitants of Canaan dwelt in fortified cities. For 10 spies, conquering this land was impossible.
But, Joshua and Caleb had "a different spirit in them" (Num. 14:24). The challenges of Canaan did not discourage them, but instead fired them up. These 12 spies were divided. Ten said, "We can't do it! We are like grasshoppers IN OUR OWN SIGHT. Therefore, we are weak in their sight, too." (Num. 13:33) Meanwhile, Joshua and Caleb were saying, "Let us go up at once and take possession, for WE ARE ABLE to overcome it" (Num. 13:30).
We hear most about Joshua. After all, he has an entire book of Bible named after him. But, what about Caleb? We know relatively little about this great man. His name means "bold" or "impetuous". And so he was. It was said of Caleb particularly, "he wholly followed the Lord God of Israel" (Josh. 14:14). His attitude reminds me of the words of I am reminded of the quote usually attributed to the great evangelist D.L. Moody: "The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to Him. By God's help, I aim to be that man."* By all accounts, Caleb was a man who sought to be fully consecrated.
It was Caleb who led the charge early on. He quieted the people when they became distressed at the bad report (Num. 13:30. God singled him out by name as an example to Israel in spirit and dedication (Num. 14:24). There are several characteristics of Caleb that speak to us today.
1. He showed unusual DEDICATION. It has been asked why Joshua was chosen to lead Israel over Caleb. We can't be fully sure about this, but a clue might be in Caleb's family history. He was from the tribe of Judah (Josh. 14:6; Num. 13:6). But, we also read that he was a Kennizzite. Who were the Kennizites? We read back in Genesis 15:19 that Abraham made a covenant with a tribe called the Kennizites. They were not a part of Israel. What does that say about Caleb? We can only surmise that he had a mixed parentage in terms of Israel. Perhaps his father was of the tribe of Judah, but his mother was a Kennizite. For some, this could have been a set-back. But not for Caleb. Despite man's self-made qualifications, Caleb remained pure in spirit and fervent in dedication.
2. Caleb showed uncommon COURAGE. Like Joshua, he would not let outward circumstances turn him back. During the First World War, one of the great generals of the French army was man named Ferdinand Foch (pronounces Fohsh). Gen. Foch once said, "The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire." Because Caleb was of a different spirit, while others were cowering in fear, he was calling for action. Another quote from Ferdinand Foch further illustrates this spirit of courage:. He reportedly said, "My center is giving way, my right is retreating, situation excellent. I am attacking." That summarizes Caleb's attitude toward taking the Promised Land.
3. Caleb NEVER GAVE UP. At 85 years of age, he was still taking ground. There were no rocking chairs in his future. He was still asking God for his mountain. Despite seeing an entire generation fall away, Caleb had found the secret of STAYING ALIVE. This speaks far more than physical endurance. He stayed alive in God. He kept believing for the fulfillment of the promise. While contemporaries were dropping like flies, Caleb kept walking on toward destiny. With his last words he was declaring God's ability to "drive out the enemy."
Such men and women are the salt of the earth. They inspire us to remain faithful during discouraging days. They speak to us about keeping the vision always before our eyes. Our God is faithful. May He find us faithful, too.
* This quote is usually attributed to D.L. Moody but in fact Moody got this quote from British revivalist and friend Henry Varley.