CALEB; CHANGE AGENT FOR CHRIST: A relevant message on moving forward in difficulty.(7 NOV ’16) We are told not to look back but to press forward in our Christian walk.(A) The same divine power that threw the devil out of heaven has been given to you, that you might also defeat that devil. God works in you to do His good pleasure. (B) That may seem easy to say, but how does one apply this to this immediate point in time when Christians are facing monster problems?? There is a man whose life can help us answer that question. Caleb, was an ordinary person, who looked forward & not back, who remained a man of hope when all around him were despairing. There are a number of things about Caleb that are instructive for us today & the upcoming months.
AN ORDINARY LIFE. Many readers may lead what seems an ordinary life & be improperly down on themselves, because instead of doing some romantic exciting job, instead of the job of your “passion”, you are dutifully making money in a dead end job so your children have shoes & milk. So did Caleb. But hum drum lives can still have the anointing of God on them. When Caleb was 40, because he was a leader already, he was picked to be a spy (to represent the Tribe of Judah). Joshua, a friend of his, was picked as a spy to represent the Tribe of Ephraim. Ten other spies were picked. When their mission was finished, Caleb went back to being a father…doing whatever loving godly fathers/grandfathers do for another “relatively boring” 38 years. The point is this, many godly heroes are simply busy mothers & fathers raising families & working at unfulfilling jobs. And it wasn’t that Caleb was born with status. His father was a foreigner with Israel, so it’s somewhat of a reasonable assumption that his mom was of the Tribe of Judah. Like Ruth, Caleb was totally loyal to God & Israel. (He was the opposite from our modern illegals who have no intention of learning our values or language.)
WHATEVER HE WAS CALLED TO DO, HE DID IT UNTO GOD. During his early years, he went through difficult dreary years in the desert without complaining. Godly Caleb only got in the limelight when he was 40 as a spy, and at 85 for being a victorious captain (people: there is NO retirement age in serving God, get past thinking you are too old)…and we know from hints in the Scripture that meanwhile he was faithfully leading a normal life most of his years. And after waiting 38 years, younger less capable men got promoted over him to serve Joshua’s army…but he was not jealous or bitter…he simply completed the job they gave him, while the younger leaders due to laziness, inexperience, & less faith failed to complete their assignments. So Caleb is an excellent example of patience, courage, faith, strength, hope & humility, who acted nobly. He is an excellent example of someone who loved God with all his heart, soul & mind.(C) Now that you have an overview of the man, let’s talk about what he did that sets such a good example for us, and helps us decide how to act in these coming months.
FACING THE GIANTS. Caleb’s situation when he completed his work as a spy is similar to the situation many of us are in. We’ve all heard how the youngster David faced the Nephalim giant Goliath. But how many of us know that Caleb in his 80’s faced several Nephalim giants & defeated them?? Let’s tell the story from the beginning. Moses selected 12 spies and sent them into the Promised Land. Caleb spied on the fortified city of Hebron, which at that time was the holiest site for Israel, as Jerusalem did not exist. It was the burial site of Abraham & Sarah, Isaac & Rebecca, & Jacob. The fortified city had 3 giant Nephalim: Ahiman, Talmai & Sheshai.(D)
GREAT FAITH MADE A GREAT MAN. When the 12 spies returned, the majority of spies were intimidated by the World they had seen. They told the congregation of Israel about “giants in the land” and they melted the hearts of the crowds into total fear.(E) The crowds became so agitated, that they complained that God hadn’t let them simply die back in Egypt.(F) Joshua & Caleb who had faith had also seen the giant monsters, but could also see God’s presence in their lives. Caleb got the excited people to calm down.(G) Where most felt no hope, he began instilling hope & confidence back into them. “The Lord is with us, fear them not!”(H) But it wasn’t enough. God ended up punishing the 10 negative, scared spies and the people in general for their lack of trust & faith. “Without faith it is impossible to please God.”(I)
ATTACKING THE OPPOSITION. After 40 years to let the unfaithful die off, God was ready to use Israel under the leadership of Joshua to give His people the land He had promised to Abraham, which had been taken from his descendants while they were slaves in Egypt. Caleb knew the importance of Hebron and had the Spirit-breathed confidence (like David) that he could take out the descendants of the 3 Nephalim he’d spied on years before. So he asked to be allowed to have that as his assignment to conquer.(J) Knowing that God is behind you on a project can give you that sense of invincibility that you need to face monster problems. Joshua told them to consecrate themselves (get close to God) for the next day [the beginning of their conquest], because God was going to do amazing things among them. (K) When it was all said & done, Caleb could say, “I wholly followed the Lord.”(L) And God backed that up by declaring, “My servant Caleb hath followed me fully.”(M) Do we face giants? Complete obedience & faith gives complete victory. Caleb & Joshua stood on the promises of God, and so can we.
COMPROMISE. But Joshua compromised and had a lenient heart when a bunch of dishonest corrupt people came to him. We have to be careful about helping just anyone–follow the Holy Spirit. There are certain totally evil people God wants to protect us from, and Joshua unfortunately made a mistake by not following God’s instructions. That was Joshua–not Caleb. Caleb accomplished his mission fully with God’s help. The specifics of how he took out a number of Nephalim giants is not recorded.
CONCLUSIONS. We need to have courage & faith in these next few months. We need to remind ourselves to obediently follow God & not to lean unto our own understanding (like the time Joshua made a big mistake in being too lenient to a dangerous tribe). Don’t forget that what seems good–may not be what is Godly!! It was not the evil side of the Tree of Good & Evil that Eve was attracted to–but the good side!!(N) The Word warns: There is a way that seems right, but its path is destruction! We need to remind ourselves that it doesn’t matter what background we came from, or what elderly age we are, it matters how much faith we have in God. And even when we are among congregations of God’s people, like Caleb, we may stand alone & be hated. (The Israelite crowds had picked up stones to kill him & Joshua, because they did not like what he said.) So my dear brothers & sisters, let’s urgently make the most of this time because these days are evil,(O) & the night comes when we can’t work.(P)
(A) LK 9:62 cf. JAS 1:8 & 1 COR 9:10 (B) PHIL 2:13 (C) MT 22:37 cf. DT 6:5 (D) NUM 13:22 (E) NUM 13:28-33 (F) NUM 14:2-3 (G) NUM 13:30 (H) NUM 14:9 (I) HEB 11:6 (J) JOSH 14:12 (K) JOSH 3:5 (L) JOSH 14:8 (M) JOSH 14:24 (N) GEN 3:6 (O) EPH 5:16 (P) JN 9:4