Joshua Chapter 14: Caleb - Wholehearted unto the end (2024)

Bible Studies in Book of Joshua

Joshua Chapter 14: Caleb - Wholehearted unto the end

by F Gordon


In this study I want to look at one of those really faithful characters inthe Bible and that is Caleb. We looked at him briefly when we came throughthe wilderness wanderings and can't really go past Caleb in the landclaiming all that has been allotted to him. He is a real picture to us ofthe perseverance of faith. He is a strong character of one who wants toobtain everything that God has for him.

Who was Caleb?

Joshua 14:1-6 Now these are the areas the Israelites received as aninheritance in the land of Canaan, which Eleazar the priest, Joshua son ofNun and the heads of the tribal clans of Israel allotted to them. (2) Theirinheritances were assigned by lot to the nine-and-a-half tribes, as theLORD had commanded through Moses. (3) Moses had granted the two-and-a-halftribes their inheritance east of the Jordan but had not granted the Levitesan inheritance among the rest, (4) for the sons of Joseph had become twotribes--Manasseh and Ephraim. The Levites received no share of the land butonly towns to live in, with pasturelands for their flocks and herds. (5) Sothe Israelites divided the land, just as the LORD had commanded Moses. (6)Now the men of Judah approached Joshua at Gilgal, and Caleb son ofJephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, "You know what the LORD said to Mosesthe man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me.

So here we are, the land has been divided up, and the first person to comeup from the tribe of Judah is Caleb. It says about him that he was the sonof Jephunneh the Kenizzite. When you look at Caleb's origins, you find thatin biblical commentaries there are differing thoughts on Caleb because theKenizzite is not a Jewish family name. The Kenizzites were actuallyEdomites and there is some thought that even though Caleb was from thetribe of Judah, when you trace back his ancestry, it is just a littlevague. But here in the book of Joshua it says in about three places that hewas the son of this person the Kenizzite. So it is possible, and I saypossible, because it is not actually clear, that Caleb was actually agentile who through faith had been brought into the tribe of Judah. We knowalso that Rahab was another person that pictures faith even though she wasa gentile; she was brought into Israel and married an Israelite of thetribe of Judah. Edomites were actually the enemies of Israel - they tracedtheir ancestry back to Jacob's brother Esau, and through Esau came Edom andfrom him came the Edomite race. The other little clue in chapter 15 saysthat 'the inheritance, or a share of the inheritance was given to Calebamong the children of Israel' so it almost infers that he was slightlyseparate from the tribe of Judah but he was in there.

Caleb's name means'dog', and in that day a dog was treated completely differently from how wetreat dogs today. Back then they were a pest, something that just wanderedfrom place to place, but now they are so much part of the family thatsometimes they are treated like another child. Can you remember the womancame to Jesus for the healing of her daughter and He said to her 'Mymessage wasn't sent to the dogs, or the gentiles, it was sent to the houseof Israel?' She had great faith and said 'but even the dogs eat the crumbsthat fall from the table.' He commended her for her faith but almostimplied that same term, that a dog was a gentile, someone that was unclean.So it is quite possible that Caleb represents that as well. It isinteresting that when you look at the wilderness wanderings you have twomain men that stood for faith, you have got Joshua and Caleb. Which one isthe most important out of the two? Actually it is Joshua that takes theprominent position. He becomes the ruler. He is the main man. We know thatJoshua is a type of the Lord Jesus Christ in many ways. And Caleb alwayswalks alongside Joshua. He is in his shadow but he walks by faith with thisman all through the wilderness and into the land of Canaan and obtains aninheritance. He is full of zeal for this inheritance, so you could, in someways, see a picture or type of Jesus and His church, or the Jew andGentile.

Jos 14:6-8 Now the men of Judah approached Joshua at Gilgal, and Caleb sonof Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, "You know what the LORD said toMoses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me. (7) I was fortyyears old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea toexplore the land. And I brought him back a report according to myconvictions, (8) but my brothers who went up with me made the hearts of thepeople melt with fear. I, however, followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly.

Do you remember the story of when the twelve spies were sent into the landof Canaan? Each man represented a tribe, and all brought back a report, butonly two said that 'God is able to take us into this land' and they wereJoshua and Caleb. All of the other spies only saw the negative and theywere afraid because of what they saw; they saw the giants in the land. Theresult was that the people actually wanted to stone Joshua and Caleb forbelieving in God. Not only was there opposition in the land to theminheriting God's promises but there was opposition among those that weretheir brethren. That tells us that sometimes our battle is twofold. It canbe from those who are the closest to us, and also from enemy forces whooppose us from claiming our inheritance.

But it says in this verse about Caleb that he 'wholly followed the Lord hisGod' and it states this three times. There was something about Caleb'scharacter that was different. Back in Numbers, when God was talking aboutJoshua and Caleb, God said 'but Caleb, who has a different spirit in him tothe others.' Here in the book of Joshua it says that 'he wholly followedthe Lord.' What do you think it means to 'wholly follow the Lord?' This issomething that is specifically spoken about Caleb and distinguishes himfrom others. He does not compromise, he is fully committed to the purposesof God with all his being; this is what it really means. If God wants toact in a certain way Caleb would be in there boots and all; he fully wantsto be involved in what God has for him and for the nation of Israel. If youcontrast this with many other people; I was thinking of Solomon...hestarted off well and was the wisest man in all the earth. However, whatdoes it say about his last days? It says that he didn't fully give hisheart to God. He didn't fully commit himself to God and his last days arereally messy. He started off well, but he didn't finish well. But in Calebyou have this picture of a man of God who perseveres with faith all the waythrough and is consistent all his life. The bible shows most people in alltheir blemishes. But Caleb doesn't really show a blemish in his life.

The Lord's faithfulness to the end

Jos 14:10 Now then, just as the LORD promised, he has kept me alive forforty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel movedabout in the desert. So here I am today, eighty-five years old!

I love the first part of verse 10 where Caleb is recorded as saying 'Nowbehold the Lord has kept me alive as He said.' Caleb is saying here thatwhat God said way back then, He has actually fulfilled, it has come about.What He said was true and here I am this day! So you have to think that forhim this would have been incredibly hard because Caleb and Joshua actuallybelieved God. They were innocent but they had to undergo 38 years' ofcontinual wandering because of the unbelief of the nation. They believedGod, they deserved to go in and inherit at that time, but they had to walkround and round in the desert for 38 years' while all the moaners and thecomplainers and the wingers and everyone from the age of 20 died off. Thatis a long time that Caleb actually had to wait for God's word to befulfilled in his life. There were 38 years' of wandering and then 7 years'of battle until he reached this point where God was about to fulfill Hispromise. So think about that in light of us. How long have we had to waitfor things? Waiting is one of the hardest things we actually have to do inthe Christian life. Is this true of us? God has promised you something andit can be all sorts of different things. Do you feel sometimes as if youhave been put to one side? Put to one side and everything is dry,everything is crusty. There is nothing much happening and you aresurrounded by people who do nothing but moan and complain, because this iswhat it would have been like for Caleb. He didn't deserve all this but hehad to undergo it. This is what I love about Caleb's life, that yes, hebelieved God but the promise wasn't fulfilled straight away, it actuallycame to pass after a long period of time.

We see in Romans 3 and 4 that 'tribulation produces perseverance, andperseverance character, and character hope.' So as much as we hate thoseperiods of waiting they actually have a purpose. For Caleb this would havebeen tribulation. Tribulation has its purpose because it producesperseverance and when you look at the life of Caleb this is what you see.He is one that perseveres in faith. God sets us aside for lots of differentreasons. Things that we believe that God has got for us sometimes justdon't come straight away. We expect them to come immediately but it justdoesn't happen that way. We don't understand it. Caleb wouldn't haveunderstood it but he had to persevere and believe that God was going tofulfill His word to him. This is why he said 'Behold the Lord has kept mealive.' Everyone else around him had died for 40 odd years as God said theywould, but God made a promise way back then that Joshua and Caleb wouldsurvive and He was true to His word.

Adoniram Judson

I love the story of Adoniram Judson. Iwas reading a little bit about him the other day. He was a missionary whowas sent to Burma and for 12 years' he went and preached every day in themarket place and never got one convert. That's a long time to not see anyfruit! It would have been incredibly hard for him not to see anyone saved.The missionary society that he was with sent him this message 'What are theprospects in Burma?' which is a nice way of saying 'what on earth is goingon? 12 years' and you haven't got one convert. Shall we bring you home andput you through a course; shall we send you to a different mission field,what is happening there?' And he sent back the reply 'The future is asbright as the promises of God' What an amazing response...and that issomething that Caleb would have said in the wilderness wanderings. If hehad been asked that same thing I am sure his reply would have been the same'the future is as bright as the promises of God.' At the moment there isnothing outward that you can see that is saying 'I am in the right place,'but God's promises remain true and His word remains true. Adoniram Judsonwas persevering in faith. He was looking to God to fulfill His word.Towards the end of that time there were tribal men from the Karen tribescoming down into the market place and they would talk to him and want toget him back up into the mountains to come and preach to these people buthe didn't believe that this was God's will so he would stay where he was.However, one day he went with them. Unbeknown to him, the Karen tribes hadthis tale they had known for ages. They believed that one day a man wouldcome into the tribe sitting on a donkey carrying a black book with him andit would lead them out of darkness and into the light. They did not knowwho the man was, but we know now that it was Adoniram Judson. He went upinto the hill country with these people and there were just tens and tensof thousands of these tribal men waiting for him. He came in on a donkeyand he came carrying a black book and he preached his first message tothem; they reckon there were just thousands and thousands who repented onthe spot and gave their hearts to the Lord. From this there was a greatrevival amongst the Karen tribes. An amazing story because Adoniram Judsonknew nothing of that. He knew nothing of God's purposes. He just faithfullypersevered where he believed God had him. 12 years' and not one soul andthen all of a sudden in one day there were thousands! He had no idea whatGod was doing and that is the same for many of us. A lot of the time wedon't understand what God is actually doing in and through us. But I lovethat quote 'The future is as bright as the promises of God.'

How is your zeal?

Jos 14:11 I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I'm justas vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then.

Here you have got the words of an aged man, he is 85, and yet what you seein his life is someone who is full of faith, full of zeal, full of courage,and full of vitality for life. How many 85 year old people do you hear talklike this? 'I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me.' Howlong have we been in Christ? Is there anyone here that has been saved 40years, 60 years? Could you say that you are as strong now as when you firstbegan? When I read this, I thought, this is a real challenge to me. Whenyou first get saved you are full of zeal, do you have the same zeal forthose that are unsaved as you did when you first began? Do you have thesame zeal for discipleship, for the church, for the purposes of God? Do youhave the same zeal to inherit everything that God has for you as when youfirst began? Caleb is a picture of someone who said 'I am as strong thisday as on the day that Moses sent me.' Can you say about yourself such asthis; everything that concerns me, the purposes, the will and theinheritance that God has for me, nothing has changed? It's a realchallenge.

Caleb had a real vitality for life, a real 'get up and go'. In my workplaceI am surrounded by aged people. There are lots of them playing golf and youget a real mixture among the aged. I was thinking about this and it came tome that in the natural sphere your body starts to break down. I was talkingto a man on the golf course the other day; and he must have been in hislate seventies, who said that there are two men that play golf everymorning and we call them the speed golfers. They are in their seventies andthey can do 18 holes in the time that everyone else takes to do 9. Thesetwo old guys just motor, hit and run, hit and run. They get out beforeeveryone else and they just keep going.' I was talking to him and I said'what are you doing this Waitangi weekend?' 'Well' he said 'I have wreckedmy Achilles tendon and I can't tramp' (because he is right into tramping).'However, I am going to bike it.' It was a three day bike ride and he said'I can't walk, but I am going to ride.' When he said that, I thought he hadjust the type of character that Caleb had, they are just into it. Onelittle hindrance doesn't stop them; they just find another way to dothings. I think Caleb would have been like that. He just had a zest forlife, a zest for God, and vitality about him. At 85 he is saying 'I am asstrong today as I was in the day Moses sent me. As my strength was then, somy strength is now, for war and for going out and coming in.' That termthere is used quite a bit in scripture. You need to be strong for going outto war, and we can all understand that. If you are going to go out intobattle you need strength in God and you need human strength. We canunderstand going out for war, but for coming in, what is that about? Why doyou need strength for coming in? That term is spoken about a few times inscripture. The only thing I could come up with is that when you return fromwar you are coming back into normal life. You are back to all theresponsibilities you have, the mundane things. You need strength to go outto fight for God but you also need strength to come in. You need strengthfor both. There are times of waiting; periods of time when you are notactually at war. The same faith is needed for both, and this is what Calebis saying 'I am strong for both going out and for coming in.'

Do you remember what age Moses was when he was called into his ministry? Hewas called at the age of 80, so there is time for us all! So if you arelooking at your retirement thinking this is the time to ease up, you needto look at this picture of these guys; Caleb at 85 full of zeal and life,and Moses called to start his ministry at 80, so you never know when youmight just have a burning bush experience. God may actually call you intoyour ministry even though you may think it is time to retire...age is not afactor to Him.

Caleb - Strong in the Lord unto the end

Jos 14:12 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 werelarge and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out justas he said."

Give me this mountain is what Caleb said to Joshua. He is 85 years' old soyou would think that in our natural selves the normal thing to say would be'give me this little plot of land in a quiet little valley by a streamwhere I can grow vegetables and flowers and listen to the birds tweet.' At85 you would be looking for a little bit more comfort and ease, but notCaleb. He said 'Give me this mountain.' And it's not any old mountain; itis actually the hardest place in the land. When Israel went in and viewedthe land this was the place where they saw the giants. The very thing thathad scared the rest of the nation, he actually wanted. So whateverhappened, when he first went into the land which captivated his heartdidn't change! It kept him all through the wilderness wanderings and wasthe place that he wanted. He didn't want the quiet little meadow somewherewhere he could put his feet up and say 'I have done my part.' He said 'Giveme this mountain.' This mountain had fortified cities and we know that ithad giants. When we look further on we see that the giants in the land wereof a satanic attitude and principle in order to halt God's people frominheriting the good parts of the land.

Jos 15:14 From Hebron Caleb drove out the three Anakites--Sheshai, Ahimanand Talmai--descendants of Anak.

The giants whom he faced were the three sons of Anak, so the very placewhere the enemy was dwelling and the same place that Caleb longed for anddesired to have was Hebron. What do we know about Hebron? Hebron meanscommunion and fellowship. Hebron is really significant for the nation ofIsrael. It is the place where God met Abraham. It is the place where hemade an altar. It is a place where the patriarchs were buried. Sarah wasburied there and Isaac, Jacob, Leah and Rebekah. It is the place thatspeaks of direct communion and fellowship, where God met Abraham face toface and actually communed with him. It speaks about a real closeness withGod Himself and of all the places for the giants to be this is it. Theywere in that place which is really significant and important and they aretrying to withhold it from the nation. So when Caleb spied out the land itwas this place Hebron that really captivated his heart. I believe that itwas this that really caused him to persevere in faith until he came intothe land.

So can the same thing be said of us? What is it that really captivates ourhearts? Are the times that you have had in the presence of God the thingthat you really long for? Is that the thing that you hope one day that theLord will bring you into the fullness of? That He has an inheritance foryou. He hasn't forgotten about you. Hebron is that place of a closecommunion with God and close fellowship with God. And Caleb he wants it, hesays 'Give me this mountain.'

Do you have something to give others?

Joshua 15:13-19 In accordance with the LORD's command to him, Joshua gaveto Caleb son of Jephunneh a portion in Judah--Kiriath Arba, that is,Hebron. (Arba was the forefather of Anak.) (14) From Hebron Caleb drove outthe three Anakites--Sheshai, Ahiman and Talmai--descendants of Anak. (15)From there he marched against the people living in Debir (formerly calledKiriath Sepher). (16) And Caleb said, "I will give my daughter Acsah inmarriage to the man who attacks and captures Kiriath Sepher." (17) Othnielson of Kenaz, Caleb's brother, took it; so Caleb gave his daughter Acsah tohim in marriage. (18) One day when she came to Othniel, she urged him toask her father for a field. When she got off her donkey, Caleb asked her,"What can I do for you?" (19) She replied, "Do me a special favor. Sinceyou have given me land in the Negev, give me also springs of water." SoCaleb gave her the upper and lower springs.

So the first thing you see about Caleb is that after he takes Hebron anddestroys the giants is that he is encouraging others into the fight. Hesays 'Whoever takes this place I will give him my daughter as a wife.' Sohere you have somebody is trying to produce faith in others around him. Atthe end of Caleb's life, not only is he a great man of faith and isspurring others on into the fight, but he has got something to give as aninheritance to others. Whenever we see springs in the bible it is always apicture of living water and so Caleb was actually giving his daughter thatwhich was most precious in that area in that day; the upper and the lowersprings. Because of faith in God he is in a position to actually handsomething on to his children. Springs of water are a picture of life in theRisen lord.

So when you look at Caleb's life what is it that he really speaks of? Hespeaks about one that has a zeal for life. One who has a zeal for God. Onewho is whole heartedly into God's purposes and will for himself. And onethat is able to obtain and fight and also able to give and bless when hislife gets to an end. He is one that is able to persevere through faith; ageis not a barrier for Caleb. At age 85 he is still as strong as he was whenhe was young. So for me Caleb is just such a wonderful picture of someonethat remains steady under fire through all of life's journeys.

Joshua Chapter 14: Caleb - Wholehearted unto the end (2024)
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