Caleb followed the LORD his God fully (Joshua 14)

POST OVERVIEW. A look at the life of Caleb, a biblical hero who followed the LORD his God fully. Caleb was a man whose faith was constantly on display in his actions.

Caleb is a Bible hero. He appears in only three scenes in the Scriptures, but his force of character and his evident faith cause him to stand out as a man of God and as a strong role model for us. His faith in the LORD and his trust in the word of the LORD was constantly on bold display.

CALEB AT KADESH

Caleb is one of the twelve spies sent by Moses to report on the land of Canaan. As they travel through the land, all twelve spies saw the descendants of Anak (giants) living in Hebron and all twelve spies saw that many of the cities of the land were fortified with high walls. When the spies return to Moses, ten of them are terrified of the descendants of Anak they saw in the land and they instill fear in all the people by telling of the power of the Anakim. The ten fearful spies also warn of the Amalekites and the Hittites and the Jebusites and the Canaanites living in the land. Their conclusion? “They are too strong for us” (Num. 13:31). The spies and all the people overtly doubt the truth of God’s word and they question His ability to carry out what He has declared He will do. Their words and their actions reveal that they have no faith in the LORD.

We must recall that those who walk by sight and who live by what makes sense to their fallen reasoning always have a ready excuse for not trusting the LORD. There is always a “but” or a “however” or a “nevertheless” that justifies why they should not move ahead or should avoid the risk. Their god is small and the threats are big. “Never mind that God is with us and that He has promised to bless those who trust in Him. He can’t help us out against this obstacle.”

But Caleb was a man of an entirely different character. Six times the Bible declares that Caleb “followed the LORD his God fully” (Num. 14:24; 32:12; Deut. 1:36; Joshua 14:8, 9, 14). This means that if the LORD said it, Caleb obeyed it without question. He accepted the LORD’s word as true and reliable. Thus, his faith in the LORD was constantly on bold display. No matter what men said, no matter what his eyes told him, no matter what his reasoning or his experience suggested, he followed the LORD fully. The LORD’s word was his trusted guide. If the LORD had spoken about a subject, that immediately became Caleb’s truth. The LORD’s word was not to be questioned but was to be fully accepted.

“Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven.” – Psalm 119:89

Caleb walked by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). Yes, Caleb saw the sons of Anak in Hebron and he knew that there were risks in going against them, but he was eager to move ahead nevertheless. “Yes, there are dangers and obstacles but our God answers prayer and our God is with us and our God reigns. Let’s move forward!”

Everything about Caleb’s words and actions manifest his strong trust in the LORD. “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it” (Num. 13:30). Caleb was confident because he was sure of what God could do and he trusted that God would do what He had promised.

“If the LORD is pleased with us then He will bring us into this land and give it to us” (Num. 14:8). “Only do not rebel against the LORD, and do not fear the people of the land. The LORD is with us; do not fear them” (14:9). Caleb was assured that the LORD was faithful and the LORD could be trusted. So Caleb followed the LORD his God fully. And so Caleb is commended by the LORD for his steadfast trust in Him.

CALEB ON THE PLAINS OF MOAB

Caleb is mentioned very briefly in Numbers 34 as Israel is on the plains of Moab preparing to invade the land of Canaan. Though only a brief mention, this mention is significant.

Recall that, forty years before, when Israel was at Kadesh in the wilderness of Paran, the LORD had told Moses to send out as spies “a man from each of their fathers’ tribes, every one a leader among them” (Num. 13:2). Caleb of the tribe of Judah had been one of those leaders (Num. 13:6). When Israel gathers on the plains of Moab, forty years have passed and the entire unbelieving generation that came out of Egypt has died in the wilderness for their unbelief (Num. 14:28-35; confirm Hebrews 3:7-4:11). Again the LORD commands Moses to “take one leader of every tribe to apportion the land” (Num. 34:18). The first leader He mentions is “of the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh” (34:19).

That’s right. The same Caleb who was the chosen leader of Judah as Israel came out of Egypt is still the leader of Judah forty years later as Israel prepares to enter Canaan. Caleb was a leader of men and the LORD twice appointed him to a role of leadership.

CALEB IN CANAAN

Finally, we see Caleb after the conquest of the land of Canaan, after his fellow spy Joshua has defeated thirty-one kings (Joshua 12:24). Caleb speaks to Joshua and reminds him of the LORD’s word concerning the inheritance that will go to Caleb, namely, Hebron. Caleb demands his reward, the inheritance that the LORD has promised to him forty-five years before. “Give me Hebron.”

Of course, Caleb wants Hebron. Forty-five years before, when the twelve spies first traveled into Canaan, even then Caleb had seen Hebron and wanted it for his own (Num. 13:22). Note that Hebron is the only place where the spies had seen the descendants of the Nephilim, the sons of Anak, but for the ten faithless spies, these giants grew in size and strength as their fears grew. But for Caleb, these giants were never a threat, because the LORD was with him and the LORD would vanquish them. The most fearsome of the Anakim is nothing before the LORD. And now Caleb was claiming his reward. For forty-five years he had waited to take Hebron away from the Anakim and now, at eighty-five years of age, Caleb is ready to move in.

The faithless spies would not even enter the land because of their fear of the sons of Anak in Hebron, but Caleb dreamed of Hebron for forty-five years because of his desire to destroy the sons of Anak in Hebron.

Caleb is a hero because his faith in the LORD was constantly on display. He regarded the foolish fears of faithless men as so much noise to be ignored. The LORD had commanded him to go up and take Hebron. Caleb was not going to disobey and forfeit the blessing the LORD had promised him.

Soli Deo gloria            rmb                 12/26/2022                 #604

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