But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it. Numbers 14:24
Please read Numbers 13 & 14
I can’t help but dedicate this to our Caleb, who is already staking his claim in the hills of heaven. I couldn’t be more proud to be your Mama, sweetheart. Godspeed.
If you will look back with me over the past several weeks, the lesson to be learned in the wilderness was simple enough: trust God, obey God. The reason that the Israelites spent forty years in the wilderness is because they refused to trust and obey. They were given their opportunity to cross the Jordan river and occupy the promised land shortly after being delivered from Egypt, crossing the Red Sea, witnessing bitter water transformed into sweet, eating Manna, being led by pillars of cloud and fire. But after all of these miracles—proof of Yahweh’s unfailing love and provision—their hearts “melted” at the sight of the obstacles facing them in the promised land.
Caleb’s heart did not melt, however. He ventured into the promised land, returned, and gave a good report. He saw the fortified cities and the giants occupying the land with his own eyes, and still trusted that God would do what God said He would do. But, why did he still trust when ten other men spied out the land and returned terrified? Why didn’t his fear overwhelm his faith?
At about forty years old, Caleb had lived the life of a slave. He had been born a slave, grown into adulthood as a slave, married and fathered as a slave, and then watched God’s hand deliver him and his people from generations of bondage. Unlike every other member of his generation, however, Caleb witnessed Yahweh’s miracles and did not allow the hardships to overshadow them. He kept an account of God’s glories, not just the trials. He staked his claim in his God’s deliverance, and upon that claim he grew his faith.
Faith is a muscle. We can develop it, or we can neglect it and lose it entirely. Caleb was a faith muscle man. He had plenty of reasons to despair, but the obstacles didn’t seem to phase him. Can you imagine how he and Joshua must have felt after months of undercover surveillance, to return with a good report, only to stand by helplessly as their entire people gave way to maddening fear? They were standing on the shores of the promised land! Can you imagine how they felt as the fear-crazed mob threatened their lives, preferring to kill their messengers of hope rather than believe the land flowing with milk and honey could be theirs? Can you imagine the despondency Caleb must have endured as God punished that mob, and their fate of wilderness wandering fell on him as well? And how horrible would it be to spend forty more years in the wilderness watching as every single member of your generation and those before you drop dead, knowing you will cross over without a single one of them?
But He didn’t focus on the hardships. Instead, He kept building up his faith. He traversed the wilderness and let the bodies fall where they may. He endured, and at eighty-five years old, entered the promised land and staked his claim on the promises of God. He approached Joshua and said,
I was forty years old 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”
After forty years in the wilderness, He was just as strong as the day God made him that promise. After forty years of waiting for a hope that must have seemed hopeless, he stood ready and strong for battle because he followed the LORD his God WHOLEHEARTEDLY. Promised land, wilderness, death, starvation, thirst, devastation, disappointment, and loneliness were thrown into his life, and he followed the LORD his God wholeheartedly. Wholeheartedly. Mind, body, soul, strength-heartedly. Come what may, wholeheartedly. And why? Because He trusted that what God said He would do, He would do.
And guess what? Caleb received his land:
Then Joshua blessed him, and gave Hebron to Caleb son of Jephunneh for an inheritance. So Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholeheartedly followed the LORD, the God of Israel . . . and the land had rest from war (Joshua 14:13-15).
As we enter into the holiday season, I ask you: are you following God wholeheartedly? Are you murmuring in your wilderness or are you counting past miracles, building up your faith, believing that God will be faithful as He always is? Are you staking your claim in the promises of God, getting stronger through each trial? If Caleb could, we can. Let’s be a miracle people, a promised land people, a people who keep getting stronger with each year, each trial, each provision granted.
I will leave you with this prayer from Habbakuk:
Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—
Yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The LORD God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills.
Can’t you just see Caleb, eighty-five and strong, walking through his hill country? We serve his God.
God bless and keep you,