God instructs Moses to send some men to go and explore Canaan, the land that He has promised to give to Israel, and to bring back a report. Moses was to select one man from each tribe and Caleb was chosen to represent the tribe of Judah. He obviously had leadership skills and his character stood out. But what else was different about Caleb?
Interesting facts about Caleb in the Bible
- Who was Caleb? The first, maybe surprising, fact is that he was not a native Israelite.
- Secondly, although he was not a native Israelite, he was recognised as a leader in the tribe of Judah.
- Caleb was a Kenizzite – who were descendants of Kenaz, an Edomite from the line of Esau. The Kenizzites are listed as inhabitants of Canaan in the covenant that God made with Abram. They were a native tribe of Canaan who allied themselves with Israel.
- Caleb was commended by God for his faith.
- He was one of only two Israelite adults, over the age of twenty, who left Egypt and lived to move into the promised land.
- Caleb waited forty-five years to receive what had been promised to him.
- His faith and strength were not diminished in that time!
- He set a battle challenge, the man who could capture a city would win his daughter’s hand in marriage.
- Caleb was a generous man. He gave his daughter Aksah an inheritance in the land. And when she asked for more, he gave her double the amount.
What made Caleb different?
Seeing the possibilities
When the twelve spies had accomplished their mission of exploring the land, they returned with some of its produce. Moses and Aaron assembled the Israelite community to hear their report. The spy party declared that the land was good and fruitful but the people who lived there were powerful and living in large, fortified cities. A truthful report. But then they began to focus on the restrictions rather than the possibilities.
Caleb tried to silence their fears by declaring that they should go up and take the land ‘for we can certainly do it’. He believed wholeheartedly in the promises of God. But instead of being inspired by his godly confidence they began to exaggerate the difficulties. The land devours those living in it. The people living there were descendants of Anak, renowned for their height and size. In the Israelites eyes they were ‘giants’. They felt as small as grasshoppers, they fell into the trap of comparison.
We can certainly do it
Caleb was committed to God and willing to put his faith into action. Unfortunately, he was in the minority and the defeatist message of the other spies, put fear in the people. The fear of their potential enemies became greater than their trust in God.
This ultimately led to the people of Israel being banished to wander in the wilderness for forty years. They had treated God’s promises with contempt. Those who had left Egypt, who had seen God’s miracles, would not enter the promised land because of their unbelief.
Apart from Joshua and Caleb.
“But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.”Numbers 14:24
Following God wholeheartedly
Forty-five years later….
After over 40 years of wandering in the wilderness the campaign to move in and claim the promised land had started. It was finally Caleb’s time to receive what had been promised to him. As the land west of the Jordan was being allocated among the tribes, he approached the leader Joshua. In the presence of the people, Caleb recalled the Lord’s promise forty-five years earlier. He had brought back a good report about the land according to his convictions. Because he had followed the Lord wholeheartedly, God had promised him an inheritance within the land, in the area that he had explored.
Caleb expressed his thanks to God who had kept him alive in the wilderness, while his contemporaries were slowly dying off. He made a remarkable statement that he was still as strong to go in and do battle for the land at the age of eighty-five as he had been at forty! And he did not ask for an easy task, but laid claim to the most intimidating terrain, the hill country. The land of the Anakites, those who had been described as ‘giants’ living in large and fortified cities.
“but the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.”Joshua 14:12
Caleb dared to be different, and to go against the flow of the majority. He believed wholeheartedly in the faithfulness of God to accomplish what He had promised. His faith was rewarded, and he was blessed by God with an inheritance within the promised land.
5 Qualities of a different spirit.
Faith is a confidence in who and what we are basing our hopes on. In believing and knowing the love of God in our lives as a reality, and by putting what we know into practice. It is possible to be theologically sound but to live like an atheist. Faith unless it is accompanied by action is dead – our actions follow our convictions.
Caleb brought back a good report ‘according to his convictions’. He based his report on the conviction that God was able to keep His promise.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”Hebrews 11:1 ESV
Godly vision allows us to focus on the possibilities in God instead of the restrictions that we see before us. To believe that God is far bigger than any problems that we may have to face. And to live in the knowledge of God’s love – that He is faithful to fulfill His promises in His perfect timing.
At the age of eighty-five Caleb knew that the battle was real and would be hard fought, but he believed that what God would accomplish what He had promised.
“For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end – it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.”Habakkuk 2:3 ESV
Our energy to keep on, keeping on, flows from our vision and expectancy in God and His faithfulness to us. We do the possible and God does the impossible. If we are losing our motivation, we need to refresh our sight. To look up and to rest with the Lord awhile. As we lift our eyes to Him our perspective changes.
Caleb had the motivation, to keep on, when those around him were falling in the desert. He had a personal promise from God. Within Scripture there is a word for each one of us to hold on to through a tough season. God is faithful.
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”Hebrews 10:23 ESV
Perseverance does not come through times of blessing. It is developed as we recognise God’s saving and keeping power through any trial. As we grow in our experience of God’s faithfulness through the time and season that we are living in.
Caleb experienced the trials of the journey that all Israel experienced, lack of water, hostility from surrounding tribes, venomous snakes, plague, just to name a few! He saw the death of Aaron and Moses and all of his generation. He could not avoid or escape the journey, instead he acknowledged God’s faithfulness in keeping him safe through it all.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”James 1:2-4 NIV
Commitment is defined as a promise or agreement to something that you believe in. We believe in God – which even the demons do – but those who are committed to God are committed to His kingdom, His cause, and His kingdom ways. Commitment is revealed in our actions. Words alone can be easy, but commitment requires us to follow through our words with our actions. When we are committed to God our behaviour changes, we no longer live to please ourselves but look to serve and please the One who loves us.
With commitment, defining moments will come – a time to choose. Do we go our own way, or even when there is a potential cost, do we choose to follow God’s ways?
Caleb was wholehearted in his love and obedience to God, a hero of faith and a witness to us all, to love with all our heart!
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”Deuteronomy 6:5 NIV
Prayers are prompted by God’s promises, and God’s promises guide and encourage our prayers.Tweet
A prayer for the strength to be different, to believe wholeheartedly in the power of God to deliver what He has promised.
Lord strengthen us we pray, so that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith. And we pray that we will grasp how wide, long, high, and deep is the love of Christ. And that we will know and experience His love in all its fullness, and serve you wholeheartedly. Amen