Israel was on the edge of Canaan at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran, and God sent twelve spies from each of the tribes of Israel on a reconnaissance mission into the Promised Land from the desert of Southern Canaan, the mountains of Judah, the hill of Ephraim, all the way to the heights of Galilee, and up to Rehob on the northernmost edge of the land, a round trip of 500 miles.
Their report of fortified cities and giants (remember the Niphilim of Genesis 6:4?) filled the people of Israel with such fear and trembling that the people of Israel wanted to go back to the security (and slavery) of Egypt.
Only two of the spies, Caleb and Joshua, believed they could "certainly do it." They believed that the Promised Land was an exceedingly good land. They believed that if God was leading them and promised them the land, He could certainly overcome any obstacles on the way to the promise's fulfillment.
Yet, their voices were drowned out by the overwhelming cacophony of the voices of fear and unbelief.
In God's economy, unbelief was considered rebellion. Without Moses' intercession out of love for His people and for the integrity of God's reputation, the people of Israel would have been destroyed, but instead they were sentenced to 40 years of wandering - one year for each day the spies scouted out the land. An entire generation would not enter the Promised Land because of their unbelief. Caleb and Joshua were the only exceptions.
"But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit
and follows me wholeheartedly,
I will bring him into the land. . ."
I loved this character study of Caleb in my Life Application Bible:
The voice of the minority is not often given a hearing. Nevertheless, truth cannot be measured by numbers. On the contrary, it often stands against majority opinion. Truth remains unchanged because it is guaranteed by the character of God. God is truth, what he says is the last word. At times, a person must even stand alone on the side of truth.
Caleb was not so much a man of great faith as a man of faith in a great God! His boldness rested on his understanding of God, not on his confidence in Israel's abilities to conquer the land. He could not agree with the majority, for that would be to disagree with God.
We, on the other hand, often base our decisions on what everyone else is doing. Few of us are first-order cowards like the ten spies. We are more like the people of Israel getting our cowardice secondhand. Our search for right and wrong usually starts with questions such as 'What do the experts say?' or 'What do my friends say?' The question we most often avoid is 'What does God say?' The principles we learn as we study the Bible provide a dependable road map for life. They draw us into a personal relationship with God whose Word is the Bible. The God who gave Caleb his boldness is the same God who offers us the gift of eternal life through his Son, Jesus. That's truth worth believing!"
Lessons from his life:APPLICATION
- Majority opinion is not an accurate measurement of right and wrong
- Boldness based on God's faithfulness is appropriate
- For courage and faith to be effective, they must combine words and actions (p. 239)
What are the giants and fortified cities in your land? Is there something God is calling you to do that seems too big for you to handle or too scary for you? Are fear and unbelief the only things keeping you from going forward? Are the opinions of others keeping you from really listening and obeying God?
Plunge ahead and believe God's promises my friend! While the task and giants may be too big for you, it is not too big for God! Only believe!
Lord, I pray that You would all give us a "different spirit that follows You wholeheartedly" just like Caleb had. Lead us to the "land" that You desire for us. Help us to enter it and glorify You in it once we get there! In Jesus' name, Amen.