Monday, January 30, 2017

Strong Like Caleb

I want to tell you about a person in the Bible who never lost hope, though he may have had good reason to do so.

After the Israelites were freed from Egypt, God had great things in store for them. God told Moses to send 12 men to spy out the land of Canaan so he sent them on a reconnaissance mission. Caleb and Joshua in addition to 10 others were sent on this mission. After 40 days they returned with their report. The land was rich, fertile, and according to their report, the men appeared as giants. In reporting back to Moses the majority of the men were afraid - they doubted that they could ever possess this land. But Caleb saw that they could take over the land. Caleb was outnumbered, but he believed. He said, "If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land and give it to us." (Numbers 14:8)

Because of the Israelites doubt, the Lord God became angry with them. None of them would enter into the Promise Land except Joshua who would lead them and Caleb whom God promised that He would allow him to possess the land. In addition, for each day of their mission, it would become a year of punishment thus 40 years in the wilderness. The 10 spies, who fed the doubt of the Israelites met a special end.

Caleb heard, believed and held on to this promise. 45 years later at the age of 85, after they have entered the Promise Land, Caleb tells Joshua I want what was promised to me. Caleb eloquently stated, "The Lord has kept me alive. I am as strong today as I was then. I am strong and ready for battle. Now, therefore, give me this mountain." (Joshua 14:10-13)  Joshua blessed him and gave him the land.

Caleb had a different spirit than his peers - he didn't succumb to peer pressure but chose to believe in the faithfulness and strength of God. After all, he had seen and participated in God's miracles - deliverance from Egypt, crossing the Red Sea, and God's provision. What reason was there to start doubting now?

Caleb was willing to hold on for as long it took to realize the promise - 45 years is a long time. Caleb watched his peers die in the wilderness, but Caleb also had to live through the wilderness experience. A wilderness is mostly dry barren land not meant to be inhabited by people. The Israelites were never meant to live in these conditions for 40 years but because of their unbelief, God allowed them to. That may seem like a harsh lesson, but it brings the point home for us - there's no need to doubt God, yet we do it over and over again. In the minutiae of life, Caleb had to hold on to and believe that there was something better. That promise kept him focused and allowed him to live differently. This made him strong mentally and physically.

Caleb saw the Promised Land - He knew there was something better out there because he had seen it. He saw the the bounteous vines laden with grapes; he saw the pomgranates; he saw the fruitfulness of this fertile land.

Like Caleb, God has made promises to us that we can hold on to. These promises can give us strength and focus as we navigate our wilderness experience. God is faithful and cannot lie - so when he makes a promise, He will keep it. It may take longer than we think we are capable of for God does not view time like we do, but His promises always come to fruition and when they do, it's always the right time.

But my servant Caleb has a different attitude than the others have. He has remained loyal to me, so I will bring him into the land he explored. His descendants will possess their full share of that land. Numbers 14:24 [NLT]

But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. Romans 8:25[KJV]

Are you like Caleb, where you can say, I'm give me this mountain? Are you going through a wilderness? Hold on, with a different attitude and belief; the promises of God will come to fruition.

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