Summary: Three qualities that God honors drawn from the life of Caleb.
A Study of Joshua
Sermon # 11
“Give Me That Mountain”
After years of war and conquest the land of Canaan is finally under the control of the people of Israel. The land east of the Jordan River had already been allocated to Reuben, Gad half of the tribe of Manesseh by Moses before the Israelites crossed the river into the promised land (Number 32). Now with the fighting at an end, once the area east of the Jordan was distributed the work of dividing up the promised land between the remaining tribes had to be done. According to verses one and two of chapter fourteen the inheritance were assigned by the casting of lots by the high priest.
In almost every family, and my family is no exception, there are horror stories of horrific fights resulting from the reading of wills and the division of inheritance. In my family my grandfather had a falling out with his brothers and sisters over the division of the inheritance and he did not speak to them again for years. The mystery to me was how little money and property was involved. By casting lots for the inheritance, who got what was left entirely in the hands of God. There could be no objections. But remember that once the land was divided it would be the responsibility of each tribe, to complete the task of conquering the land that they had inherited.
Tonight I want you to see with me three qualities that God honors drawn from the life of Caleb.
1. God Honors Obedience (vv. 1-9)
According to verse six, apparently before the leadership had actually begun the process of allotting the land to the tribes, Caleb approached Joshua at Gilgal to remind him of promise given to him by God. “Then the children of Judah came to Joshua in Gilgal. And Caleb the son of Jephunneh (je-foon’-eh) the Kenizzite (ke’-niz-ites) said to him: “You know the word which the LORD said to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh Barnea.
Caleb then goes on in verse seven to tell the story of how he and Joshua had been two of the twelve spies send out by Moses to scout out the land of Canaan. “I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart. (8) Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the LORD my God. (9) So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children’s forever, because you have wholly followed the LORD my God.’
Not one of the spies disagreed on the value of the land of Canaan. It was every thing that had been promised and more, it truly was a land that “flowed with milk and honey.” Nor did they differ on their description of the people and their cities. The cities were large and well fortified. The people of the land were numerous, and there were indeed giants in the land. The point is that ten of the spies saw only the danger, two (Caleb and Joshua) saw the opportunity. The majority measured the giants against themselves, Caleb and Joshua measured the giants against God.
In the midst of growing pessimism, Caleb dared to disagree with the majority report. With great boldness and confidence in the promises of God Caleb “quieted the people before Moses” and shouted to the people “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” (Numbers 13:30). At that moment, Joshua was silent. He agreed with Caleb, but he remained in the background Caleb was the spokesman. Joshua did stand with Caleb and challenged Israel to act on God’s promises (Numbers 14:8-9). Not only did Caleb’s and Joshua’s warning go unheeded they almost got stoned to death for their trouble (Numbers 14:10).
Can you name even one of the other ten spies? If you can, you are more of a scholar than I am or you have been playing Bible trivia too much. The point is that we seldom remember the name of those who blend in with the majority. Most of the heroes are people who stood against the popular philosophies of their day and chose to forge ahead no matter what others thought.
Caleb, however, had faith in the power of God. To Caleb, God was greater than the biggest giant. Caleb was not naïve about what they faced, giants and fortified cities, he did not minimize the problems, but rather he magnified God.
2. God Honors Faithfulness. (v. 10a)