Caleb Strong Man of God
by Robert F Collins
Israel has entered the promised land of Canaan and conquered it. Joshua chapter 13-14 lays out how the land was divided among the tribes. In Joshua 14:6 then we see Caleb coming before Joshua with a request. His request recorded in vs. 12 is simple, “give me this mountain.” Actually, most modern translations translate it “give me this hill country” because Joshua was not referring to just one mountain but the mountainous country around Hebron. But, “give me this mountain!” sounds better.
Now by what right did Caleb stand before the leader of God’s people and demand, “give me this mountain”? Now before we answer that question, let’s go back about 45 years and see what was going on. In the book of Exodus we read about the dramatic events that led up to God’s deliverance of the nation of Israel out of Egyptian bondage. Then they went into the wilderness where they encountered God on Mount Sinai. They received the commandments of God and built the tabernacle according to God’s specifications.
Numbers chapter 10 and following recount the departure of the nation of Israel from Sinai and the events that followed. Now they stand at the border of the promised land. The land which God promised to Abraham and his descendants. But before they enter the land, God instructed them to send 12 men ahead to spy out the land (Numbers 13). They were to select one man from each tribe to go into the land.
Now, if you were going to send one man from your entire tribe to go spy out the land, who would you pick? You would pick the best man you had. I have no doubt that the 12 men that were picked were the strongest, bravest and most reliable men in their tribes. They were the best of the best. The tribe of Ephraim selected Joshua (Hoshea) the son of Nun and the tribe of Judah selected Caleb, the son of Jephunneh. The entire list is in Numbers 13:4-15.
Then in Vss. 17-20 Moses gives them their instructions. So they spied out the land for 40 days and returned to give their report (vss. 27-33). They brought back items from the land that showed it to be incredibly abundant in food and resources. Ten of the spies said, it “flows with milk and honey,” BUT . . . there are GIANTS in the land. “We seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” The ten spies said, it is a wonderful land but we cannot conquer it. The people were in an uproar.
Vs. 30 says, “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.’” In spite of Caleb’s pleas, the people rebelled against Moses and Aaron and decided to return to Egypt. Joshua and Caleb continued to plead with the people in Num. 14:6-9, not to rebel but instead, trust in God who has promised to give the land to them. The people then turned on Joshua and Caleb and tried to stone them. But then God intervenes. Vs. 10 says, “the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the people of Israel. God threatens to destroy the entire nation of Israel and start all over with Moses. Only Moses’ pleas persuaded God to spare the people.
God then declared that the people would wander in the wilderness for 40 years until everyone in the nation of Israel over the age of 20 had died. But then he makes a startling statement in vs. 24. “But my servant Caleb because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring him into the land into which he went and his descendants shall possess it” Of all the people of the nation of Israel, only Joshua and Caleb were spared.
Now back to Joshua 14. This is why Caleb was able to make such a bold request. God had promised that “mountain” to him 45 years earlier in the wilderness and he was ready to take it. Joshua granted Caleb’s request and according to Judges 1:20, Caleb and his people drove out the Anakim and conquered Hebron and the surrounding hill country that had been promised to him by God so many years earlier.
What contributed to Caleb’s success?
Four points to answer our question
I. He possessed a “different spirit.” (Num. 14:24) Different from what? How?
As you recall, when the 12 spies came back from Canaan, 10 of them said, it’s a great land but we can’t take it. At the same time, two of them, Joshua and Caleb said, “Yes we can.” God has promised it to us and God never backs out on his promises. One of the reasons Caleb was so confident that the land could be conquered was that he had a “different spirit.” What does that mean? The 12 spies had a spirit of fear and trembling. All they saw in the land was GIANTS. All Caleb saw was the beautiful land and the opportunities it represented. Caleb’s different spirit was a spirit of courage based on faith.
It is the same spirit which David had in I Sam 17 when he faced Goliath. For days, Goliath had challenged anyone from the Army of Israel to fight all 9 feet of him. Everyone looked at this GIANT and then looked at themselves and like the 10 spies they were “grasshoppers in our own sight.” The ten spies were afraid because they compared themselves to the GIANTS and KNEW they could not defeat them. AND THEY WERE RIGHT!
Caleb and David saw the giants and compared them to God and KNEW that with God’s help they could defeat them. Caleb’s confidence of victory did not come from “the power of positive thinking” or from some glorified and exaggerated sense of self worth, but from his Faith in God.
Paul may have been thinking of Caleb and David when he told Timothy in II Tim. 1:7 that “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self control.”
2. Caleb followed God fully (Num. 14:24; Deut 1:36))
In this passage and in the parallel passage in Deut. 1:36 God uses this phrase to declare Caleb’s complete faithfulness to Him. Josh. 14:9 indicates that God’s declaration may have been delivered through Moses. Caleb uses the same phrase in Josh. 14:8 to declare his faithfulness and cite that as a reason why he should be given Hebron and the surrounding hill country. Caleb’s dedication to God was complete, unwavering and unending. Jesus declared in Matt. 17:20 that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, we can move mountains. Caleb’s faith did not help him move a mountain but it surely helped him capture one.
3. Caleb man of Confident. (Josh. 14:10-11)
Caleb declares that he is as strong and ready for battle now as he was when he stood with the nation of Israel on the threshold of the promised land 45 years earlier. In his statement, Caleb indicates that his strength did not come from within himself but from the fact that “The Lord has kept me alive . . .” Caleb knew that his strength and vitality was a gift from God and he gave God all the credit. But Caleb also knew that God would not just hand Hebron to him on a silver platter. Caleb knew that he would have use his God given strength and go out and fight for his inheritance. As some said, Caleb’s faith wore work clothes.
4. Caleb man of patience.
God made a promise to Caleb that would not be fulfilled for 45 years! All during that time, Caleb never gave up his hope and never gave in to despair. God had promised it. Caleb believed it. That settled it. Caleb did not know when God’s promise would be fulfilled but he knew it would some day. For 45 long years filled with hardship and death, Caleb kept himself ready so that whenever God was ready to give the land to him, Caleb would be ready to take it.
Through God’s help Caleb was able to conquer the inheritance which God had promised him and take it for his own.
You and I have a promised inheritance. Peter talks about it in I Pet. 1:4 where he describes it as an inheritance that is “imperishable, undefiled and unfading.” Heaven is our promised land. Our land flowing with milk and honey. But . . . Before we can receive the promised land we have to face the giants in our lives. We have to fight the spiritual fight that Paul describes in Eph. 6:12. Our giants are not physical but they are far more powerful than any physical giant ever faced by Caleb or David or any other Old Testament hero. Our giants are the “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Those are the giants we must battle and conquer if we expect to spend eternity with God in heaven.
How do we conquer our spiritual giants?
1. Like Caleb, we must have a spirit of courage which is founded on our faith in God.
2. We must follow God COMPLETELY. Throughout the Bible we are given examples of complete, uncompromising, and unending faith that brought victory to those who had it.
3. We must be willing to do our part. God has promised the land to us but we must be willing to fight for it. Heaven will not be handed to us on a silver platter.
4. We must be persistently patient. We will receive the promises of God if we never give up hope and never give in to doubt and despair. If we do these things, we too, like Caleb, can claim the promised land for our own.
God bless your day today and make a different in someone's life for Jesus.