The Faith of Caleb
The Faith of Caleb
INTRO: Good morning church.
In our Bible class we have been studying from the book of Hebrews and lately from chapter 11, the great chapter on faith. One of the things we notice about that chapter is the frequent reference to the Old Testament for examples.
We understand that we don't live under the Old Testament, under the Old Covenant, but we read the Old Testament because it's really impossible to fully understand the New unless you are familiar with the Old. There are many wonderful lessons that we can glean from the Old Testament and from the men and women who we read about.
What I want us to look at today is a little bit about Caleb and the faithful service that he rendered to the Lord. We will start with the statement that Caleb makes in Joshua, chapter 14, where he says, “give me this mountain”. I invite you to read with me Joshua 14:6-15 – “6. Then the children of Judah came to Joshua in Gilgal. And Caleb the son of Jephunneh (jef-foon-neh) the Kenizzite (ken-niz-zite) said to him: "You know the word which the Lord said to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh Barnea. 7. "I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart. 8. "Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the Lord my God. 9. "So Moses swore on that day, saying, `Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children's forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord my God.' 10. "And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years, ever since the Lord spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old. 11. "As yet I am as strong this day as I was on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in. 12. "Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said.'' 13. And Joshua blessed him, and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh (jef-foon-neh) as an inheritance. 14. Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh (jef-foon-neh) the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholly followed the Lord God of Israel. 15. And the name of Hebron formerly was Kirjath Arba, for Arba was the greatest man among the Anakim. Then the land had rest from war.” [NKJV]
There are several things we see in this passage and in the life of Caleb in general. First and foremost is that God never forgets the work that we do for him, the faithfulness that we show to him.
Next, we see in Caleb a wonderful example of faithfulness to the Lord. Then I want to ask a question, what mountains do we face today and in what way does the Lord help us in our efforts to do His will?
I. First, let us think about God never forgetting the service that we render to him. When the children of Israel came up out of Egypt, God commanded that spies be sent into the Promised Land to spy it out and bring back word of what they found there.
A. Caleb was one of the ones chosen. In Numbers 13:1-2 it says, “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, "Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel; from each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a leader among them.''”
1. If we drop down to verse six, you'll see that Caleb was chosen from the tribe of Judah as one of the spies.
2. We recall that when the spies come back from observing the land and its inhabitants, ten of those spies brought a very negative report. As Caleb said in the passage we just read, they caused the heart of the people to melt.
B. We read about that starting at Numbers 13:31 – “31. But the men who had gone up with him said, "We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.'' 32. And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, "The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. 33. "There we saw the giants, (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.'”
C. In chapter 14 we continue at verse 2. “2. And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, "If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! 3. "Why has the Lord brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?'' 4. So they said to one another, "Let us select a leader and return to Egypt.''”
1. That was the report that was brought back by the ten spies. Notice their fear, their lack of faith, their cowardice if you will. It was contagious and their fear caused the people to fear. When we fear, we don't always think correctly.
2. The Children of Israel forgot that God had already brought them out of Egypt, and that Egypt was the strongest nation on earth at the time. They forgot the miracles God had performed in Egypt, that they had plundered Egypt when they left, and God had destroyed the armies of Egypt in the Red Sea. They forgot because they listened to the report of these ten spies.
D. Joshua and Caleb brought back a different report. As we continue in Numbers 14:6-10 we read, “6. And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh (jef-foon-neh), who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; 7. and they spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying: "The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. 8. "If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, `a land which flows with milk and honey.' 9. "Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them.'' 10. And all the congregation (this is amazing) said to stone them with stones. Now the glory of the Lord appeared in the tabernacle of meeting before all the children of Israel.”
1. Notice that the congregation was not willing to listen, and they were getting ready to stone Joshua and Caleb. God intervenes at this point and Joshua and Caleb are spared.
2. Joshua and Caleb not only contradicted the ten spies, but they were standing up to the whole nation of Israel at this point. They were on the verge of being stoned because they believed in God, and they believed that God would keep His promise.
II. God does not forget such acts of loyalty. When I say that, I don't mean to suggest that it's impossible for us to lose our salvation if we become unfaithful. An act of loyalty in the past does not guarantee our future salvation. As long as we continue to live faithfully, God will not forget the good that we've done, and God will not fail to reward us for the good that we've done for Him.
A. In Hebrews 6:10 the Hebrew writer says, “For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” The Hebrew writer is writing to Hebrew Christians, Christians who were of Jewish lineage.
1. As we studied the book of Hebrews, we found that these Christians were in danger of becoming unfaithful and were trying to go back under the Law of Moses. The writer is reminding them that God will not forget their work, their labor of love, and that they have ministered to the saints and continue to do so.
2. We read this elsewhere in scripture, God knows those who are His. In the book of Nahum 1:7 we read, “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him.” God knows.
B. Think about the Book of Revelation and the letters to the seven churches of Asia. In every single one of those letters the congregations are reminded that God knows, and God is aware of both the good that they have done and of things done that were bad. He is aware of that. He is aware of their works.
1. Quickly we can look at Revelation 2:2. To the Church of Ephesus, he says, “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars;” He says, I know. I know your labors. I know your works. He went on to say to them that He also knew they had forgotten their first love. They were not perfect, but He was aware of the good that they had done, and He did not forget that.
2. The Church at Smyrna, Revelation 2:9 – “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.” He knows of their works, their tribulation, their poverty, physical poverty, but they were rich in a spiritual sense.
3. To the church of Pergamos in Revelation 2:13 – “I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.” God knew the name of the faithful servant whose life had been taken for his service to God.
4. To church of Thyatira. “I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first.” He was aware of their works, and He knew that as a congregation their works were increasing instead of on the decrease.
5. Revelation 3:1 - To the church at Sardis. “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead”. This statement by the Lord is: I'm aware, I know that you have a name that is alive, but you are dead. The congregation in Sardis was not faithful to the Lord. They wore the name, but they weren't living the life that a Christian ought to live.
6. In Revelation 3:8 to the church at Philadelphia – “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.”
7. Finally, the church of Laodicea, in 3:15 – “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.” Those seven churches are literal churches, but they also are very representative of all churches, all congregations, and the different problems and issues that we face as congregations of the Lord's Church.
C. In each one of those, Jesus says, I know. Just as He was aware of their works, He was aware of Caleb and the good that Caleb had done, and that Joshua had done.
1. We are promised as well that He knows our works and that He will reward us for the good that we've done. Going on a few more chapters in the Book of Revelation 14:13 John says – “Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, "Write: `Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.' '' "Yes,'' says the Spirit, "that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.”
2. First Corinthians 15:58 Paul says, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” God is aware and will reward them for all the good that they do. We are also told God never forgets the promises that He makes.
D. God initially made the promise that Caleb would receive an inheritance and then 45 years passed before it would be fulfilled. God did not forget. In Deuteronomy 1:35-36 God said, “`Surely not one of these men of this evil generation shall see that good land of which I swore to give to your fathers, `except Caleb the son of Jephunneh (jef-foon-neh); he shall see it, and to him and his children I am giving the land on which he walked, because he wholly followed the Lord.'”
1. 45 years later Caleb is about to collect on that promise God had made. We see there's no doubt in Caleb's heart that God will keep His promise.
2. If you recall from our lessons on faith, part of faith is trusting God to keep His promises. Hebrews 11:6 – “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hopefully we're people who diligently seek God, and we can look forward to the promises God has made to us.
3. In Caleb we see a wonderful example of faithfulness. As one commentator put it, “The account of Caleb's courageous stand would serve to remind God's people of how the Promised Land had to be won”.
III. Think though about some of the things that might suggest that Caleb might not be up to conquering this mountain that he requests.
A. First I think of his age. He was 85 years old now. I think it's interesting that he says I'm as strong today as I was 45 years ago when Moses told me to go spy out the land. Huh, from my viewpoint I might doubt that was a valid statement. Maybe he thought it was true, but I doubt anybody is as strong at the age of 85 as they were at 40. Nevertheless, he didn't allow his age to be a detriment or to cause him to feel that he could not do what God wanted him to do.
B. Not only was his age a problem or could be a problem, but also the enemy. These Anakim that are described as residing on this mountain in Hebron, were described as giants. Yet, in Joshua 14:12 we find Caleb saying, “Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said” I do not believe Caleb is bragging here, I think he is just saying I’m ready to do my part in conquering the land.
C. Then think about his “army” if you will. These are the decedents of those Israelite slaves that came up out of Egypt. Here is Caleb then, with his army, the descendants of those slaves, and he is going to take them and attack this mountain that is manned by giants in fortified cities.
D. By human terms, there are things which would lead us to think perhaps Caleb should have chosen a softer target, something that was a little bit easier for them to obtain. Caleb obeyed God’s command to take the land and he did not pick an easy target—he picked the mountain of Hebron.
1. I believe that is because he knew that with God all things are indeed possible. He says, “It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said”. Notice then that he says, it may be. In other words, if the Lord wills, he believed that he would be able to succeed. His statement implies that this was going to be God's victory and not his. He was placing his trust in God, not in himself, or in his strength, or in his army. He says, If God wills, we'll take this mountain. He was a man who fully trusted in God.
2. That wasn't a new quality in his life. He demonstrated it 45 years earlier when they had gone to spy out the land. Everybody else was fearful, but he and Joshua trusted. They knew that since God was with them, they could take that land.
IV. We know that Caleb got his mountain as an inheritance. In Joshua 15:13-14 – “13. Now to Caleb the son of Jephunneh (jef-foon-neh) he gave a portion among the children of Judah, according to the commandment of the Lord to Joshua, namely, Kirjath Arba, which is Hebron (Arba was the father of Anak). 14. Caleb drove out the three sons of Anak from there: Sheshai (shesh-shi), Ahiman (Ah-he-mon), and Talmai (Tal-mi), the children of Anak.”
A. He got that inheritance. He did not limit God. He was not fearful, he did not think it was impossible, he trusted in God. I'm reminded of Ephesians 3:20 when Paul and talking about our Heavenly Father and he says, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,”
B. I fear people are often guilty of limiting God. They don't trust him enough. They feel that things are just simply too difficult or too hard and that they won't be able to accomplish them. With God, certainly all things are possible.
V. That leads me back to a question I mentioned earlier, and this is in a very broad and general sense - what mountains do we face? What are some of the problems, some of the obstacles, some of the tasks that are set before us that often seem just too difficult for us to achieve?
A. Let’s think about ourselves both as a congregation and as individuals. What about the works that are placed before us? For example, in terms of doing good and helping those who are in need? In Galatians 6:10 – “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Hebrews 13:2 – “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.” Hebrews 13:16 – “But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” We are commanded and encouraged by example, to do good unto all men.
1. We are to render aid, hospitality, and assistance to those who need it. There are so many in the world that need help. We are tempted sometimes to think, what could I possibly do?
2. We have used this story before and perhaps you recall it. A person was walking on the beach after a storm and there were starfish stranded there. He began bending down and picking up starfish and throwing them back into the water. An individual stopped by and said, what are you doing? You're never going to make a difference. Look at all the starfish that are here. It will take you forever to throw all these back in. The man looked at the starfish that he was about to throw in and he said, well, it makes a difference to this one, and he threw it back in the water.
3. Certainly, there is more need in this world than maybe we as an individual or as a congregation could ever meet, but God is able to work through us. We can make a difference and we can help more people than we believe we can. God will use us to do that.
B. All too often, though, we're tempted to look at the problem and think of reasons that we can't fulfill our obligation. I have noticed as I get older and tire more easily, I often get discouraged and reasons not to try jump forward. Caleb and Joshua didn't do that, and I, we, shouldn't do it either. We should put our trust in God.
C. Think about the command to edify and strengthen one another. We're commanded to build one another up. Romans 15:2 – “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification.”
1. Ephesians 4:29 – “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.”
2. We are commanded to bear one another's burdens, Galatians 6:1-2 – “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
D. What the Bible tells us to do is the job, the task, that belongs to each one of us. Sometimes we may fall into the trap of thinking, then that's the preacher's job, that's the congregation’s job, that's the officer's job, and it is, but it's also all our jobs. Think of the good that we could accomplish in terms of building one another up if each of us took that responsibility as seriously as we should.
E. Then there is evangelism, the work of all the called out, the church. We know that the command is to “go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe all things that I've commanded you.”
1. In the last part of this statement Jesus made this wonderful promise. “Lo, I'm with you always, even to the end of the age.” Yes, this is a tall task that I'm giving you. I'm going to be with you. I'm not going to abandon you. I'm not going to leave you on your own. I'm going to aid you. I'm going to help you.
2. Put your trust in me. Do what you can and trust in me to help you in that work that is placed before you. In faith we do not limit God in the works that are placed before us, both as a congregation and as individuals.
F. It is true that the devil is our adversary, he is powerful, dangerous and he wants to destroy us. What does in mean for the devil to destroy us? If he can cause us to be unfaithful to God, to remain unfaithful to God, he's destroyed us in every way that matters.
1. Peter as you all know in First Peter 5:8 describes the devil as a lion, a roaring lion, walking around seeking whom he may devour. What are we to do? We have this very powerful being out there who's seeking to destroy us, take us down as individuals, and keep us from being children of God.
2. What are we to do? In the next verses First Peter 5:9-10 – “Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” [ESV]
3. We are to resist the Devil; we must resist him in the faith. I'm not stronger than the Devil and you're not stronger than the Devil, but the one whom we serve is. If we resist him in the faith, we can resist him. James tells us if we resist the Devil, he'll flee from us because the one whom we serve is greater than he is. With God's help, we can take this mountain. We can defeat the Devil, that enemy that is stronger than we are, because the God whom we serve is stronger than he is.
G. Scripture tells us we will face trials, the troubles of life. Many of those trials, like with Job, are brought on by the Devil to try to discourage us, to try to get us to turn our backs on God. Paul reminds us, these things are common to man. But God is faithful, and no matter what this world may throw at us in terms of trials, whether we're talking about physical trials, health problems, diseases, death, whether we're talking about financial problems, whether we're talking about social problems, problems with friends, or problems with families, whatever it might be, through all these things that the Devil throws at us, God is with us to help us bear it.
God is faithful and He is aware of the good that we have done, the good that we are doing, and He has promised to reward us. Colossians 3:24-25 – “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” That reward that is waiting far exceeds that which we experience in this life and is so much better than what we deserve.
We need to be like Caleb. The work that God has set for us to do, we need to believe that we can do it—not because we are so mighty or so powerful or so wonderful, but the God whom we serve is, and He can accomplish great things through us.
We can know that, by reading the Scriptures and looking at what He has done through the folks we read about in the Bible. No matter what obstacle or what trials or what tasks are set before us, they can be accomplished through God. Caleb is a wonderful example of the type of faithfulness that all of us need to have.
If there are any here today who have not obeyed the gospel, you're not yet a Christian.
If you believe in Jesus, we offer the invitation to you to act on that belief by obeying His commands, specifically His commands regarding salvation. Repent or turn from your sins, confess your belief that Jesus is the Son of God, and be baptized for the remission of your sins. Those things, Jesus says, are part of our salvation and what is required of us.
If you're a Christian who's become unfaithful, you can come back to the Lord and we hope that you will through repentance and prayer.
If you would like to do that in a public way and seek the prayers of the Church, we'd be glad to help you in any way that we can.
As we offer the invitation, if there's any way we can help, please come as we stand and sing.
Reference sermon by: Ralph Price
Where and when we meet
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