Summary: Three faith lessons from the live of Caleb. His example instructs us on how to face the challenges in our lives. God identified three things about Caleb that distinguished him from the crowd and explains God's blessings on him.
In Numbers 13 we are introduced to a man named Caleb. He was the leader of the tribe of Judah when Moses sent the tribal leaders into the Promise Land to explore it in anticipation of invasion.
Follow with me as we read Num. 13:17-20
“Then Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said to them, "Go up this way into the South, and go up to the mountains, 18 and see what the land is like: whether the people who dwell in it are strong or weak, few or many; 19 whether the land they dwell in is good or bad; whether the cities they inhabit are like camps or strongholds; 20 whether the land is rich or poor; and whether there are forests there or not. Be of good courage. And bring some of the fruit of the land." Now the time was the season of the first ripe grapes.”1
At the beginning of this chapter, God told Moses to send these men into Canaan to spy out the land. Their assignment is delineated in the passage we read. Verse 18, see what the land is like. Appraise their strength. Determine the nature of their strongholds and vulnerability. Also bring back a report on the resources of the land. Are there forests there where we can obtain battering rams? What kind of produce is in the land? In fact, bring back some of the fruit so we can taste it for ourselves. Notice the instruction Moses gave them in the middle of verse 20, “Be of good courage.” That is one Hebrew word: chazaq.2 It is the same word used in 1 Sam. 30:6 when the Amalekites plundered David’s camp at Ziglag and took their wives and children captive. The Bible says “But David “chazaq” “encouraged himself in the Lord….” “Be of good courage” Moses told the spies. Did they do that? Two of them did; the other ten did not. Caleb was one of the men that did exactly what his commander told him to do.
So these twelve men go into the Promise Land and check it out for 40 days. In verse 26 they return. (Num. 13:26)
” Now they departed and came back to Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the children of Israel in the Wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; they brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 Then they told him, and said: "We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. 28 Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites dwell in the land of the South; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and along the banks of the Jordan." 30 Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, "Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it." 31 But the men who had gone up with him said, "We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we." 32 And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, "The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. 33 There
we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight."
Chapter 14:1-2 “So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. 2 And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, "If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness!”
There are three faith lessons I want to talk about this morning from the life of Caleb. First he demonstrated faith as one who:
I. SAW OPPORTUNITY WHERE OTHERS SAW PROBLEMS.
Joshua and Caleb saw the same facts in the Promise Land as the Ten other spies. But they came to an altogether different conclusion. Why, they saw it from a different perspective. The ten spies saw good things that they wanted. There was before them a land flowing with milk and honey. In my years of pastoring, I find that everybody wants the good things of the kingdom of God. They want a relationship with God. They want a strong family. They want godly kids. They want God’s blessings on the finances. And sometimes, just because a person wants these things, he concludes that he is in pursuit of God. But the Bible clearly teaches us that these ten spies were not pleasing to the Lord. Their report was a “bad” report. Even though they said some good things about the Promise Land, all-in-all their choices were bad choices. The main things they saw were obstacles and problems. They saw enemy strongholds. They saw giants in the land. Were these things there? Yes, they were. Did Caleb see these problems? Yes he did.