“But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.”
As with most characters, particularly in the Old Testament, the lessons revealed in the life and experiences of Caleb are a revelatory study. We see very different responses to God’s display of power and sovereignty, His spoken promises, and His clear instructions all throughout scripture. The journey of the Israelites through the events recorded in Numbers 14 takes them into glorious territory. Until this point the promises of God to bring them out of bondage and into a land that He would give them had been a driving force. Certainly they were reassured by His undeniable display of power as proof of ability to make good on that promise – in all His dealings with the Egyptians, parting the Red Sea, giving them His law etched by his very finger, etc. But now God takes a select few beyond the spoken promise and into His reveled promise. No longer do they stand on the promises of God, they gloriously walk in the promises of God.
On six occasions the Bible gives testimony to Caleb’s faith and conviction as one who “followed fully” God (Num. 14:24, 32:12; Deut. 1:36; Josh. 14:8,9,14). Of the 12 spies to scout the Promised Land, he was one of only two that returned with a good report. He stood boldly against fear and the voice of discouragement, ready to act immediately and possess the land. He was unabashedly confident that they could “overcome it” (Numbers 13:30). Not even giants, the physical embodiment of any obstacle in the path to the promises of God, could deter him. Of men his faith was met with the congregation wanting to stone him (Num 10:14). But of God his faith and obedience was rewarded with a covenant. God’s anger and righteous judgement would mean that an unbelieving generation would die in the wilderness. But His mercy and faithfulness would allow a remaining few and an obedient generation to possess the land.
Caleb’s Strength Did Not Falter
You would think those 40 years of wilderness would have left Caleb cynical and angry at God. Imagine the ridicule and ostracism he might have endured as a generation slowly passed away over the years. It would have been easy to let the passage of time diminish his fervor. He patiently endures judgment alongside those who had been so convinced that God had led them to the doorstep of His promise only to die. The same ones that considered a defeated return to Egypt and Pharaoh more attractive than facing the obstacles ahead with God. Yet Caleb is armed with the promise from God to His people, a personal covenant extending to his seed, and surely still stirred by the memory of having seen the good of the land.
Caleb, now age 85, after 40 years of wilderness experience stands before Moses’ successor Joshua. There is no change in his resolve. He is as ready to possess the land now and as strong to fight as he was the day he was sent.
‘And now, behold, the Lord hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years, even since the Lord spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in.’ – Joshua 14:10-11
Do You Know Him?
The promises of God are not instant gratifications but rather eternal blessings. How long is too long before we’ve had enough and grow impatient waiting on God? In a society fueled by a social media mentality that begs our ideas and opinions be constantly shared and validated, what if following God requires an unpopular decision? The spirit of Caleb is as necessary today as it was then.
Worldly wisdom says that “seeing is believing” and we only achieve what we imagine and dream to be possible. That we frame our own reality by our own senses and ambitious imaginations. Scripture clearly steers us away from such self-actualization:
- But “the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight” (1 Corinthians 3:19)
- a blessing rests with those that “have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29)
- He is “able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20)
Consider this – all 12 scouts saw the same thing. So how did 10 see it, walk in it, and leave convinced it was too difficult? They simply did not understand and believe who God is and their willingness to follow was strictly influenced by fear. God’s willingness to make and His ability to keep promise is inherent to His nature. He cannot lie. He does not change. After all the Israelites had seen Him do, as much as He shared His mind and will they still did not know Him! No wonder God was angry to the point of stripping the promise from them completely.
A Burning Heart
Following fully requires a full understanding of who God is. In Luke 24 two men are walking back from Jerusalem to Emmaus reasoning the events of Jesus life and more recent death. Jesus approaches and walks with them unbeknownst to the two. They share their disappointment of their unfulfilled expectation that Jesus would redeem Israel. Not only did they fail to recognize a resurrected Jesus walking with them but they missed his purpose entirely. Jesus calls them fools and slow of heart to believe and begins to fully reveal himself to them through the scriptures – not beginning with a manger in Nazareth, but beginning with Moses. Miraculously their eyes are opened. Now with full understanding, they worship and joyfully return to Jerusalem.
And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? – Luke 24:32 KJV
God honors faith, obedience, and steadfastness with soul strengthening reassurances that propel us from glory to glory in Him. Joy springs forth as fountains at each incremental revelation. When the Word of God and His spoken, written promises are more than enough to produce full assurance and a determined resolve in us – when we know and follow Him fully – He shares, reveals His glory with us in ways that exceeds any imagination or expectation. With the same relentlessness that Caleb exhibits, those that God has revealed His promises to and have had the mysteries of the scriptures opened – we have a responsibility to share the same so that others would believe unto salvation and determine to follow Him fully.