Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member
We have been going over Old Testament characters in church lately and how they point to Jesus the True and Better. So today I thought I would tell the story of one of my favorite Bible personalities, Caleb. Caleb doesn’t so much point to a true and better Jesus as he does give us some pointers about how to be a Christ follower.
The bulk of Caleb’s story is found in Numbers 13-14. It is a truly one of the saddest stories in the Bible and rather than me go over the entire setting in this blog post, I would encourage you to read those two chapters for yourself. I guarantee if you pay attention to what you are reading, you won’t get bored. Basically these two chapters tell about probably the greatest failure in the history of God’s people, Israel. Here God brought them to the brink of the Promised Land. All they had to go in and take it. But they failed.
God told Moses to send out 12 spies to check out the land. They came back with a report about the land that it was rich and plentiful. But they also came back defeated and in fear. They reported that there were “giants” in the land and that the Israelites were “grasshoppers” compared to them in our own sight. Numbers 13 ends by saying the spies gave a bad report about taking the land to the people (13:32).
Numbers 14 gives an account of what followed. The people cried all night in fear. Joshua and Caleb told them not to rebel against the Lord and that He was with them. They said in essence, “we will have the people for lunch.” But the people wanted to stone Joshua and Caleb for what they were saying.
The rest of Numbers 14 talks about God’s final judgment in the matter. God wanted to strike the people dead and start over. But Moses, in his characteristic dealing with the people, talked God out of killing them outright. God changed His mind but said the people would not enter the Promised Land and their carcasses would rot in the wilderness. The chapter finally comes to a conclusion with the Israelites trying to make amends (v. 39-45) and saying they would go up and do battle for the land. Moses told the people not to go because God was no longer with them. But the people went up anyway. Verse 44 is truly sad where it says, “Neither the ark of the covenant of the LORD nor Moses left the camp. The people went out without the blessings of God and Moses and were soundly defeated. From then on, they journeyed in the wilderness for 40 years until all of them died except for Joshua and Caleb. This is a totally tragic story.
So why do I like this story so much? Because of one verse that I haven’t mentioned until now. Numbers 14:24 says, but My servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it. This is huge!! While I am sure Joshua must have had a different spirit too, since he was appointed the leader after Moses, God points out Caleb alone of possessing this spirit.
What was this different spirit? Here are some of the characteristics that I found about Caleb that allowed him to be a Christ follower:
- Caleb had a single mind and followed God fully. We cannot live in two worlds James 1:8). We will always be bombarded with choices to follow God or take the easy way out. Caleb chose to follow God.
- Caleb saw things through the eyes of faith. Caleb was one of the spies and saw the giants and the fortified cities like all the others. He just didn’t see things the same way. He had faith that God would be with them.
- Caleb didn’t rebel against God. This is one of the worst things we can do as a Believer. Here is a secret. When you sense yourself groaning and complaining against God you have taken the first step into rebellion. And if you don’t catch yourself, you will be in full rebellion against God.
- Caleb wasn’t ruled by circumstances. Things looked bad, but Caleb did not look at the circumstance, but rather he looked at God and His promises. See Hebrews 12:1-3.
- Caleb had the courage to stand alone. He didn’t join in with the other spies like the rest of the people did. I have heard that it cost nothing to go along with the crowd. But it costs everything to stand up to the crowd. I pray for that kind of courage for myself and for the church.
In conclusion, let me say this. This month alone, I have failed in every one of these points. I feel like a complete failure (sounds like another blog post topic). I lost sight of God; I groaned and complained, I even gave up for a few days of trying to follow God. I let my current circumstance rule my thoughts and actions. I lost my faith that God even cared about what I was going through. Finally, something I read last night in a book by Francis Chan struck a chord in me and made me start to think about what I was doing and where I was headed. I am not out of it yet, but we can talk about that in a later blog. For now, I would just like to encourage us to seek to have a different spirit and to follow God closely. We need to have the spirit that Caleb had more than ever. May God give us the grace to believe and trust Him completely!