Bible Society of South Africa
Louise Gevers

Walking with God – Day 6

Walking with God wholeheartedly: Caleb

Bible text(s)

24But because my servant Caleb has a different attitude and has remained loyal to me, I will bring him into the land which he explored, and his descendants will possess the land

Numbers 14:24GNBOpen in Bible reader

Amongst the Israelites who left Egypt with Moses, was a most inspiring person named Caleb, who was later chosen as one of twelve spies sent out with Joshua to explore the land of Canaan. Two things made him remarkable in that community, the first being his positive, trusting attitude in following God.

Although all the spies returned after forty days in Canaan, with amazing stories of its plentiful, gigantic fruit, and reported that it was a land “flowing with milk and honey”, he and Joshua were the only two who were enthusiastic about returning there to take the land. The others showed little faith in God. They were afraid of the inhabitants and negatively influenced the Israelites with their biased report: “We saw the Nephilim (giants) there … We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them” (Numbers 13:33). In life, if we look at ourselves instead of to God, when challenges arise they will appear as “giants”, but faith in Almighty God, in the face of danger or hardship, enables us to obey him.

Caleb trusted God to be with them; he was positive, willing and fearless. He “silenced the people before Moses and said, ‘We should go back up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it’” (Numbers 13:30). Together, Caleb and Joshua reported: “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them” (Numbers 14:8-9). They realised that fear was actually sin, because it actively barred belief that God would keep his promise and provide for their needs. Faith, however, would bring rich rewards.

These rebellious people, who had actually seen God’s presence leading them to the Promised Land as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21-22), wanted to stone Caleb and Joshua, but God now punished their sin as he had lost patience with their testing of him, which they had demonstrated ten times during the journey. He appeared to Moses and said, “Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb … and Joshua. As for your children that you said would be taken as plunder, I will bring them in to enjoy the land you have rejected. But you – your bodies will fall in this desert. Your children will be shepherds here for forty years, suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lies in the desert. For forty years, one for each of the forty days you explored the land – you will suffer for your sins and know what it’s like to have me against you. I the LORD have spoken and I will surely do these things to the whole wicked community, which has banded together against me. They will meet their end in this desert; here they will die’” (Numbers 14:30-35). A tragic end – to be chosen for liberation and to squander it.

The second remarkable thing about Caleb is that nothing made his good attitude falter. He did not complain about the punishment of the forty year delay of his entry into the Promised Land, which he too would have to endure, but later was able to say triumphantly, “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 (giants) were there … but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said” (Joshua 14:10-12). What an invincible spirit of faith Caleb had to retain his strength and enthusiasm, and receive his long-awaited reward.

Bible Society of South Africav.4.21.9
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