The Uniqueness of Caleb
God rescued the Israelites from slavery in Egypt in order to lead His people to the promised land of Canaan, where they would receive a place of bounty and peace for their inheritance. But when the Israelites reached the boundary of Canaan, the heart of the whole community melted from the bad report of the ten spies to the people (Deuteronomy 1:28). They lost their faith in God, and clamored to return to Egypt (Numbers 14:4). Therefore, God punished those men 20 years old and more who grumbled against Him, so that they would wander in the desert for forty years until they had all died (Numbers 14:29-35). Only Caleb, son of Jephunneh and Joshua, son of Nun among them would enter into Canaan, because they had faith in God. This piece of history is a solemn reminder to us as pilgrims of the heavenly way.
In April, the church will be establishing a new seniors¡¦ fellowship called the Caleb Fellowship. Today, the writer would like to use the life long testimony of Caleb for our mutual edification. I hope that as we assemble in this new hall at the beginning of a new stage, we may hold up the past as our beacon and emulate the example of Caleb. Caleb followed God wholeheartedly from his youth to his old age, and his spirit towards the Lord was different from that of others throughout his life. There are the following unique aspects:
1. Unique spirit: Caleb was unlike the others because he had a different disposition. It may be translated as different mind or a different spirit (Numbers 14:24). Although the whole community saw God¡¦s glory and many miraculous signs (Numbers 14:22), they still did not submit to the Lord, but despised Him and tested Him frequently. Yet Caleb had a different spirit, and followed God whole-heartedly. Three times the Book of Joshua described him as following Jehovah wholeheartedly (Joshua 1:8, 9, 14). His spirit was indeed exceptional.
2. Unique perspective: When the ten spies and the whole community were terrified by the fortified city walls and giant Anakites, Caleb held an unique, opposing view and was fearless. All the people believed that the Anakites were giants who devoured those living in the land, and considered themselves like grasshoppers. But Caleb saw the enemy as food to be swallowed because he trusted deeply in God, and so his perspective when looking at and doing things was distinct. ¡§¡Kbecause we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them." (Numbers14:9)
3. Unique courage: When the ten spies presented their bad report, Caleb instead reported according to his own convictions (Joshua 14:7). When the people lost their faith in God and grumbled loudly, Caleb forcefully soothed them by saying ¡§We should go up and take possession f the land, for we can certainly do it.¡¨ (Numbers 13:30) He earnestly exhorted the people, ¡§Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land.¡¨ (Numbers14:9) Caleb had unique courage. He was not frightened by strong enemies and unafraid of the dissenting crowd because he followed God wholeheartedly.
4. Unique vitality: Although at age 85, Caleb still had as strong a body as the day Moses first dispatched him. He even asked Joshua for Kiriath Sepher, a difficult place to capture, and drove out the three powerful heads of the Anakites from there. (Joshua 15:1-15) Caleb possessed unique and outstanding vigor. He said, ¡§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.¡¨ (Joshua14:11) because he had the help of God.
5. Unique mission: The aged Caleb not only had superlative fortitude himself in battle, he also exhorted the younger generation to rely on God through faith and valiantly contend for the promised land of Canaan. ¡§And Caleb said, "I will give my daughter Acsah in marriage to the man who attacks and captures Kiriath Sepher." (Joshua 15:16) He passed along to the next generation the mission to fight for the land, because the Israelites still had much non-captured territory in Canaan at that time. He hoped to attract the next generation with a reward, so that they would strive to carry on the mission and face the challenge.
Dear brothers and sisters, if we are to receive the everlasting and bountiful inheritance promised by God, here and now we must be like Caleb in this life on earth, possessing a unique spirit, perspective, courage, vitality and mission. Whatever age we are, we must follow Jesus Christ our Lord wholeheartedly, and our faithful God will surely bestow Hs grace and give us strength.
By: Daniel To