Friday, February 11, 2011

Lessons from Caleb, the man of faith

I've been wanting to finish this forever and keep putting it off! 

Pen and I don't have the easiest times picking names.  Both of us are pretty non-committed when it comes to a decision that is so lasting like this.  And we have very different opinions about what we like and dislike.  Surprise, surprise! Names that I liked he has known someone of the same name that irked him and declares the name unusable.  I'm the same way though.  In fact being a former teacher and coming across hundreds of kids (ie names), there were a lot of names that I declared unusable!
It actually is really important to both of us that the name mean something that we approve of.  I'm more into the meanings and the heritage in a name than even the sound of it (though I'd prefer both to be pleasing of course!). And I'm not concerned with how popular a name is (at least I thought I wasn't, come to find out Caleb is pretty popular for this age group... how was I supposed to know though, he's my first connection to this age group!)

So why did we choose Caleb?

In a nutshell it was because of the speech Caleb gave in Joshua 14:6-14. 

Yes, it's lengthy but WELL worth a read (all emphasis is mine).

A little background on the story:  God has rescued the Israelites from Egypt, promised them a land of their own, and led them right to it.  Caleb and 11 other men are sent to scout the land before the entire group moves in.  They find beauty and abundance.  They also find large cities, large walls, and large people.  And then they report back to Moses and the Israelites in awe and fear of man... completely forgetting any awe and fear of God.  BUT Joshua and Caleb do not cower and because of that God holds them apart from the rest.  They are the only ones in their generation allowed to enter the promised land.
"...and Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to [Joshua], “You know what the LORD said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, but my fellow Israelites who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt in fear. I, however, followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly. 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.’
 “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.”

Then Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave him Hebron as his inheritance. So Hebron has belonged to Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite ever since, because he followed the LORD, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly.

I believe in this age we NEED men and women willing to stand apart from the crowd.  The crowd is overwhelming and by definitition outnumbering. And the crowd is convincing, to the point where it gets more and more difficult to discern Truth in light of their manipulation (1 Timothy 4:1-10; Colossians 2:1-10).  Honestly if we aren't in the Word and in it consistently, we are putting ourselves at great risk of believing the deceit and lies. Caleb was willing to stand apart, to stand with God, to stick to his convictions while others melted in fear.  So they would have to fight for this land.  So God wasn't handing it to them on a silver platter but asking them to step out in faith. Caleb must've had a pretty good idea of who God was... and why not?  God had shown Himself to His people repeatedly (plagues, pillar of fire, cloud of smoke, parting of the Red Sea, water from rocks, manna from heaven, through the radiance on Moses' face,...).   Caleb followed the Lord God wholeheartedly.  No wavering. No second guessing. No allowing deceit to enter.  No fear.... of the Philistines OR of his own people (even his own friends). 

That's a man that definitely knows God.  You don't get to that point without spending time with God. "Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand." (Ephesians 6:10-13) Caleb had already spent the days learning and listening so that his armor was in place.  And when it was time, he stood.

So lets rewind 45 years. 

Forty of those years were spent waiting for the unbelievers to die off, stuck with them despite his standing firm.  Forty years.  I haven't even lived that long, let alone wandered in the desert with whiners, complainers and confusion for that long. I can barely take 40 minutes in a setting like that.  Caleb stuck it out.  But even more than that, he waited with wisdom during that time.  There was one event where the people felt bad about their lack of faith and decided to try and fight.  Some would think, "Oh they're trying to rectify their error.  They learned their lesson.  Now they have faith."  But they were still missing the big picture.  They were completely disregarding God in their plan. God had already said that anyone 20 years and older (at the time of the spies discouraging report and the Israelites lack of faith) would first have to die in the wilderness before the next generation could begin to fight for their land.  And remember, God is always true to His Word.  I love that Caleb saw through this.  Yes, he wanted to fight but he knew to do it on God's time. And of course their attempt didn't turn out so well (Numbers 14: 39-44).  

So Caleb waited those 40 years while everyone else died off.  He came out the other end STILL believing and STILL ready to fight for what God said was his and (I love this) STILL as physically strong in his 80s as he was in his 40s.  God had literally preserved him because of his faith. A miracle that we could quickly skim over if we're not careful. 

What happened during the remaining 5 years before Caleb went to Joshua with his request?  They finally cross into the Promised Land.  Caleb then spend 5 years doing exactly what he had waiting 40 years to do.  Fight.  Those convictions he spoke of 40 years prior were now put to the test.  And this 80 year old is stepping out to literally fight battles, knowing that God doesn't lie.  God said this land would be theirs and it would be.  Get this...  these five years he has fought for others to get their land.  God had laid it all out, whose land was whose (meaning which tribe of Israel would receive which portion of the land won).  Caleb knew which land was to be his.  So for all of those 5 years spent fighting, he knows he has more fighting to come because he's not yet fought for his land.  He's helping the descendants of the complainers (who I should note are not like their parents; they are now fighting in faith right alongside Caleb). 

So finally after 5 years, this 85 year old man asks to fight for his own land.  I love that he doesn't say, "Joshua, I've worked hard.  Go send out the young-folk to get my land so I can sit pretty."  He still doesn't expect it to come easy.  He doesn't even expect the others to fight with him.  He just wants permission to allow his own family to fight for their own land.  AND he is still completely aware of what stands in his way.  The Anakites.

It's interesting that the very group that the disbelieving and fearful ten spies were most afraid of, the descendants of Anak, were the ones Caleb is still waiting and ready to fight.  This is what the ten spies said about the Anakites (45 years before). “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” (Numbers 13:33)  But remember Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said,  “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” (Numbers 13:30).  He and Joshua countered, "And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them.” But the whole assembly talked about stoning them. (Numbers 14:9-10)
So now this "grasshopper" of a man is going to put words to action... at 85 years old.  He did just that.  "In accordance with the LORD’s command to him, Joshua gave to Caleb son of Jephunneh a portion in Judah—Kiriath Arba, that is, Hebron. (Arba was the forefather of Anak.) From Hebron Caleb drove out the three Anakites—Sheshai, Ahiman and Talmai, the sons of Anak." (Joshua 15:13,14)

God did just what He said He would do. Caleb won his land after waiting for 45 years.  He defeated the very thing that everyone else feared... because he feared God more.  That's conviction.  That's faith.  That's a man who knows God. 

I just adore the strength of Caleb's words in this speech and then the fact that he followed through with every one of them.  This is what we need in the body of Christ, those who are not lukewarm in their beliefs, who do not waver, who act in wisdom, who live out their faith, and who follow God wholeheartedly.

"My servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to"
(Numbers 14:23-24)

I pray that my son would have a different spirit and that he would follow God wholeheartedly.  I pray that he would KNOW Christ personally, not just know about Him or know of Him through parents, pastors, or stories.  That is the only way we can be able to stand with such faith amidst deception and adversity.  That is what my son will need as he grows.  


Lauren @ Magnify the Lord with Me said...

I totally agree that the meaning of names is so important! Caleb is such an awesome hero of faith. My Godson's name is Caleb, and we framed the verse that says, "My servant Caleb has a different kind of spirit; he follows me unreservedly." Numbers 14:24

Can't wait to see what name you chose (the Lord reveals) for your next little one!

Toyin O. said...

I always admire Caleb, it takes guts to follow God like that, but the rewards are awesome. I always prayed for a spirit like Caleb's:)