But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” – Numbers 13:30
“But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it.” – Numbers 14:24
On Sunday, Jim opened up the Word and spoke about the failure of Israel. They were afraid to enter the land because of the negative report about the land. The 10 bad spies informed the Nation that there was no way they could take the land because the cities were too strong and it was filled with giants. However, two spies tried to tell Israel that God was with them and would fight the battles for them. Those two were Joshua and Caleb. Joshua gets a lot of attention in the Bible; he takes over for Moses and leads the Nation eventually on their conquest of the Promised Land. I want to look at the life of Caleb and what we learn from him. He is a small character in the story of Israel, but he makes a big impact.
We first hear of Caleb in Numbers 13, where he is introduced as one of the twelve spies. Scripture mentions that he is from the tribe of Judah (13:6). The tribe of Judah is probably the most famous tribe within all of Israel. It is from the tribe of Judah that the future kings of Israel will come, and Christ will ultimately come from this family line as well. Eventually when the Nation becomes two Nations, it is broken into Judah and Israel. But we will learn more about that later.
Caleb, along with Joshua, knew that God had promised this land to His people and that He would fight their battles for them and give them the land. But over and over the people refused to listen to them; at one point they even took up stones to try and kill Caleb and Joshua! They knew the truth but the people were unwilling to listen to them. So, Israel refuses to enter the Promised Land and it costs this generation their lives. The Nation will again wander in the desert for40 more years. Of this generation only Joshua and Caleb would enter the land, in the Book of Joshua. For his trust in God Caleb is rewarded with land for him and his descendants when they eventually enter the land.
Sometimes it is easier to go with the majority, to just agree with what is being said because you know if you speak against the majority it might cost you something. Caleb found himself in this type of situation. The 10 spies had made the people see the land as dangerous and impossible to conquer. Caleb was in the minority; he had truth on his side but the people were unwilling to listen. Truth is not decided by numbers, truth is God’s truth and it does not matter how many people are against it or against us as believers. We need to take the courage of Caleb and follow God wholeheartedly knowing that the truth is on our side. People will not like what we have to say, but we need to be loving as we express the truth of God. Israel did not listen and it cost them their lives. In the same way those who do not hear the truth of God will find eternal death away from God. Like Caleb, we need to be willing to silence the crowd and speak the truth, and God will reward those who stand up for him. I want to be like Caleb – do you?
Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. – Joshua 1:6-7
Israel is finally ready to enter the land that was promised to Abraham. The generation that did not trust God in the Book of Numbers has died, and Joshua is now ready to lead the Nation. Israel is about to cross over the Jordan River and face many enemies that are in the land God is giving them. God in Chapter One will encourage Joshua and give some important instructions.
Three times in Chapter One God tells Joshua to be “strong and courageous” (1:6,7,9). Israel is about to face many battles as they clear the land of the godless nations. But God wants Joshua to be strong and courageous in the battles they will face. God will give the land to Israel; He will fight their battles. God wants the Nation to trust Him and it starts with Joshua as their leader. Joshua was one of the spies, along with Caleb, in Numbers 13 who said they should go and take the land. Yet, the people did not trust God. God now wants Joshua to lead the people with humility, looking to God for their strength. God also instructs them to keep the Law of Moses and not depart from its teachings. If they follow the teachings within the Law it will go well for them, but if they depart from it, struggles and hardships will come upon them.
For us today this chapter teaches some great principles to live out in our lives. We are most likely not about to head into an actual battle, but we can apply these teachings to our lives as well. Israel knew the outcome; God was going before them in battle and would give them victory. We know that the battle is already won – sin has been defeated, and we know that when Christ comes back the battle with evil will come to an end. We should be strong and courageous knowing that anything this world throws at us finds defeat in Christ. Now that does not mean that things always go well. Remember, Israel will lose their first battle against Ai. We are not guaranteed the easy, struggle-free life. The second part of the instruction is to remember God’s Word. They only had the first five books; we have much more revelation now. I know my day is just different when I have been in God’s Word. It aligns me to where God wants me to be. He wants us thinking and meditating on His Word daily. God wants His people to trust Him. We read His Word and we learn to trust Him more and more. He is there, He has not left. God wants us to be strong, courageous, and in His Word, so that we can put our trust in Him in the good times and in the bad times.
“In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses spoke to the people of Israel according to all that the Lord had given him in commandment to them…” – Deuteronomy 1:3
Deuteronomy is, for the most part, the final messages from Moses to the nation of Israel before they enter the Promised Land. The book is described as being similar to a constitution for the people.
In the opening four chapters Moses is retelling how Israel has failed, yet also how God has protected and guided them and the grace He has shown over and over. It must have been hard for the Israelites to hear again how they had not listened to God before when He wanted them to enter the Promised Land. But the point Moses is trying to make is not the failure of Israel, instead he wants them to understand the mighty acts of God in saving His people. Yes, they failed and were punished, but God never gave up on His people. He was there with them in those moments. The goal was for them to not dwell on how they failed; the goal was to remember how God was there for them. Over and over in the Old Testament Israel is called to remember all the great things God has done for them. This remembering should give them confidence and help them trust God with their future and follow His ways.
We fail also in our lives as well. Sin gets the better of us and it’s usually in those moments that we feel ashamed and unworthy of God. The last thing we feel God wants is us in our sinful and broken state. But this is when God’s grace shines the brightest; we can see the goodness of God sometimes in the lowest moments of life. It is why Paul can say, “…where sin increased, grace increased all the more…” (Romans 5:20) God’s grace in our lives gives us the confidence to know how God has worked in our lives. Israel could look back and remember what God had done for them; we as well can remember all that God has done for us. Think about what God has done for you. How have you seen God provide? How have you seen God protect? How does the grace of God change the way you live?