That Magnificent Old Man - Part Five
THEME: A Great Contrast
This week’s lessons teach us about Joshua’s companion in the conquest of Canaan, and what it was that made Caleb a great man.
There’s a great contrast here in this story, and I’m sure it’s why it’s told at this point, right in the middle of this account of the division of the land. It’s the contrast between Caleb, who followed the Lord wholeheartedly to the very end and took the land that he’d been promised so many years before, and the people who, for the most part, failed to fully possess these possessions. Oh, they had the land. They were there. The power of the Canaanites was broken during the seven years of military conquest. All of the great cities had been overthrown. But when the land was divided up, they were to go into their individual portions of the land, subdue it, and drive the inhabitants out. And we’re told again and again in these chapters that they didn't quite do it. They settled down, and instead enjoyed the conquest without carrying it through to completion.
If we wonder why they did that, I suppose we’d say they were just tired of fighting. They might have said to themselves, "Look, we’ve been at it for seven years. My goodness, it’s time to quit." Or they could have said, “Look, we’ve conquered enough. We have houses to live in and cities in which to dwell. And there’s the vineyards, and the olive groves, and the milk, and the honey. What we ought to do now is really settle down." What they wanted was peace and prosperity, the kind of thing that is held out as an enticement to so many professing Christians today. They say, "Come, be a Christian, and be safe, and satisfied," as if there were no battles to be fought, no task to be taken on.
So while these Israelites settled down, Caleb didn't do that. He kept on to the very end. That's really magnificent. But you know, that’s our task, too. And I want to give you a passage that says it very clearly. In the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, there’s that great listing of all the heroes of the faith from the Old Testament. Caleb isn't mentioned, but there’s a short reference to the conquest. And after all these great heroes of the faith are brought before us, the author applies it to us in a very direct and personal way by saying this at the beginning of chapter 12:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us
throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let
us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on
Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him
endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the
throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so
that you will not grow weary and lose heart (vv. 1-3).
I’m sure that in all those 38 years of waiting and in those seven years of fighting, there were many times when Caleb grew weary. We do grow weary in God’s service. But Caleb did not lose heart. And the reason he didn't lose heart is that he had his eyes fixed on God, just as we are told here to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. So, because he didn't lose heart, he served God wholeheartedly, as you and I are likewise challenged to do.
- What is the great contrast to which Dr. Boice refers?
- What characterized the two sides of the contrast? Why did each side conduct themselves as they did?
Are you going through a period where you are growing weary and losing heart in trying to live the Christian life? Read and pray over Hebrews 11:1-12:3. How does it speak to your situation? What can you learn from these biblical saints? What do you need to do differently or better? Also, consider confiding in a close and trusted friend, and ask them to pray for you and to offer any guidance they might have.
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