“Now then, just as the Lord promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the wilderness. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said” (Joshua 14:10-12 NIV).
Caleb was one of the great men of Israel. He was one of the twelve spies that were sent throughout Canaan when they first arrived at the border a few years after leaving Egypt. Ten of the spies were so overwhelmed with what they saw that they panicked and could not see how they could conquer the land. But it was Caleb, along with Joshua, who brought a different report. They knew that with God’s help they could take the land just as he had promised.
“So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly’” (Joshua 14:9).
Caleb was forty years old, in the prime of his life, when he was sent to look at the land. Another 45 years had passed: during 38-39 of those years Israel remained in the wilderness as the generation of men who left Egypt died out. The next five to seven years were spent conquering the land.
Caleb was now 85 years old. Even though at an advanced age, he was still as strong as he had been when he was 40. The Promised Land had largely been conquered and he was finally ready to settle down. So he asked Joshua for the land that he had been promised by Moses. This land had not yet been subdued, being populated by a fierce people with fortified cities. But Caleb was confident that he would drive them out.
What was the basis of Caleb’s confidence? His confidence and trust were still in God. God had said they would conquer the land. 45 years earlier he believed that promise and he still believed God’s promise. With God’s help he could take the land. And he did!
“From Hebron Caleb drove out the three Anakites—Sheshai, Ahiman and Talmai, the sons of Anak” (Joshua 15:14).
There are two characteristics of Caleb that we need to have in our lives as Christians – and these were both identified by God.
“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 ESV).
Caleb had a different spirit. He was different from everyone around him. When they saw obstacles, he saw God’s power bringing victory.
We, too, have a different Spirit than those around us. When we were immersed into Jesus, we received, along with forgiveness of our sins, God’s Spirit as a gift (Acts 2:38). We, like Caleb, should be viewing our lives in a different way than those around us do because of the Spirit that lives in us.
The second complement paid Caleb was that he followed God fully. His trust in God led him to great things for God in conquering the land.
Do we trust in God to the same extent? Do we realize that the mission God has given us can be accomplished, of making disciples of all nations?
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
Readings for next week:
5 June – Joshua 11
6 June – Joshua 12
7 June – Joshua 13
8 June – Joshua 14
9 June – Joshua 15