Bob Mayo, Stonepoint Member
Today at the ministry we had a half day prayer meeting. We have these every so often in addition to our regular times of prayer. During the meeting one of our leaders shared a devotional on faith and prayer. As part of the devotional he mentioned Joshua and Caleb regarding some things that destroy our faith in God. Now I need to tell you that Caleb is one of my favorite Bible characters and I pray occasionally that I can be more like him. I get this from my reading in the book of Numbers, especially chapters 13 and 14. I recently read these chapters during my regular time of Bible reading. In addition to the that, during the week and at the prayer meeting today, the name of Caleb came up several times. So, I thought maybe I should write about him.
It was mentioned today that Numbers 13 and 14 are two of the most important chapters in the Bible regarding how not to derail our faith. I would guess you know the story by heart. It is the story of sending out the 12 spies to check out the Promised land that the LORD had already given to the Israelites. The spies returned and 10 of the 12 of them gave a true albeit a negative report of what they saw. They saw that the land was indeed a good land and brought back proof of the fruit in the land. But the spies also saw high-walled cities and great armies including giants. One man tried to encourage the people: “But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, ‘Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we well able to overcome it’” (Numbers 13:30). But he was quickly silenced by the other spies and the people.
Chapter 14 is one of the saddest and most negative chapters in the Bible. The spies got the whole congregation of Israel on their side and the people grumbled against Moses. Whenever Caleb tried to speak up, he was silenced and at one point the people wanted to stone Joshua and Caleb for their stand. The chapter ends with God’s judgment Israelites and sends them back into the wilderness until the current generation died out and a new generation was raised. Just before heading out, the people finally agree to go up and fight but by that time the dye had already been cast. Moses warned the people not to go fight because the LORD was no longer with them. What a sad statement! But the people went up anyway, were defeated and headed back out into the wilderness.
So, here a couple of thoughts about Caleb and faith. What made Caleb different than the rest of the people? It is summed up in Numbers 14:24: “But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it.” That’s it. Caleb had a different spirit and believed, or had faith in God.
There are a few of things we can take with us from this story and put into our lives. First, Caleb had the faith and courage to stand alone. I’ve heard it said, it costs nothing to follow a crowd, but it takes everything to stand up to one. Caleb had the courage to stand alone in his faith in God. God had already promised the land to the people. When the people saw the obstacles in front of them, their faith died. Caleb had faith in the word of God and he clung to that and did not let the circumstances cause fear in his life. I believe we should do the same.
Another thing that Caleb did to help his faith was that he didn’t listen to negative talk. Numbers 13:32 says that the spies brought a bad report of the land to Israel. The people listened and it destroyed any faith that they might have had. Think of it!! The report given by the spies destroyed the entire nation of Israel. Their corpses rotted in the wilderness. We need to know that there is power in words, both for good and bad. When we hang around negative people the only thing that can happen is that we too will follow them and become negative. Please know, I’m not talking about people who have a melancholy character type (like me) and who have times of negativism or depression. But there are people who just like to be negative and find fault in everything and everyone. In order to maintain our faith in the LORD there may be times when we need to change our friend.
There are several other points I could bring out but I will stop with this one. Caleb believed God’s word. As I said before, God had already told the people the land was theirs. All they had to do was go in, defeat the enemy and watch God work. Caleb believed God’s word and followed Him fully (Numbers 14:24). Because of their lack of belief in God, the Israelites actually ended rebelled against God by refusing to enter the land. Then they rebelled again by going up to fight after they were told not to. The bottom line is that God will not work in a person who is in rebellion. Hebrews 3:7-11 is a great passage about the rebellion of the Israelites’ rebellion in the wilderness. There is a lesson here for us. We need to believe in God’s Word and not rebel against God by not doing what the Word says.
So, we come to the end the story of Caleb. Caleb is not one of the major Bible characters we usually study. But what is said about him in these short two chapters speaks volumes about faith and believing God. What happened to Caleb? Well, when all this started Caleb was 40 years old. He went through the wilderness journey with the generation that died off and then finally entered the land. When he was 85, he was still fighting and wanted his inheritance. Caleb went to Joshua and was given the “hill country” but he still had to go up and fight for the land.
One person here at the ministry has called me “a Caleb” at times. I believe his meaning was that I have faithfully served here for many years. While there are times I would disagree with that last statement at times my prayer is, that if I am still in this world when I am 85, I will be like Caleb. May God’s grace be with you!