That Magnificent Old Man - Part Four

THEME: The Second Reason for Caleb’s Greatness

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.

SCRIPTURE:
Joshua 14:6-15


Yesterday we began to look at the first reason for Caleb’s greatness, which was his complete trust in God. One of the great commentators on this particular story, Alan Redpath, wrote of Caleb and Joshua’s faith: “The majority measured the giants against their own strength; Caleb and Joshua measured the giants against God. The majority trembled; the two triumphed. The majority had great giants but a little God. Caleb had a great God and little giants.” 

Let me give one other example of that, just to show that it’s a basic principle in Scripture. It's the example of Peter when he was in the boat in the storm and Jesus came to him, walking on the water. We’re told that Peter looked out and saw Jesus, called out to him, and said, “Lord, if it’s really you, bid me come to you on the water.” At this point he had his eyes on Christ. Then Jesus told him to come. And Peter, in a magnificent show of faith, climbed out of the boat onto the water and began to walk across it towards Jesus. All was well until he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the water. You see, as long as he was looking at Jesus, the waves seemed small. But when he began to look at the waves, Peter seemed small. And he said, “Look, these waves are going to swallow me up. I’m going to drown.” He began to lose his faith and started to sink. And he would have sunk if it hadn't been for Jesus, who reached out His hand, lifted him up, and brought him back into the boat. 

Do you see how the principle operates? Sometimes we are faced with real difficulties.  As long as you and I are looking at those difficulties, they are always going to be bigger than we are. And when faced with such difficulties it’s arrogant to think we can handle it, because we can’t handle it. But if you have your eyes on God and trust God completely the way Caleb did, then you really can go forward. And God really will do what He’s promised to do in your life. This is the first secret of Caleb’s faith, that he trusted God totally and gave himself to God utterly. 

The second thing that we see in Joshua 14 comes out in this word, "wholeheartedly," which is repeated there three times (vv. 8, 9, 14). That's the same idea that is involved in Deuteronomy 6:5, which Jesus quoted when He was asked what was the first and greatest of all the commandments. He said, "It's that you love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind." Because Caleb loved the Lord his God with all his heart, he served him with all his heart. And he did it through a long, long lifetime. And here at the end, he’s still doing it. 

You see, when Caleb first saw Hebron, knowing its importance for the Jewish people, it stuck in his mind. It was the area he wanted to have.  But then, because of the people’s rebellion, they had to wander for 38 years. And when the time came to cross the Jordan and fight the battles, there was Caleb. He stood there shoulder to shoulder with Joshua throughout all those years of the conflict. But all through those seven years, he never forgot Hebron. And when he came to the end and it was time to divide up the land, he said to Joshua, “Now then, just as the Lord promised, He has kept me alive for 45 years since the time He said this to Moses while Israel moved about in the desert. So, here I am today, 85 years old. I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out. I’m just as vigorous to go to battle now as I was them. So, give me the hill country that the Lord promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there, and their cities were large and fortified. But the Lord helping me, I will drive them out of the land.” 

Joshua 15 tells us what he did. There were two main cities in that area, Hebron and Debir. He himself took Hebron because that’s where the giants were. He had said that God could do it, and he wanted to show that God really would drive the giants out. And that is exactly what happened. Caleb drove out the three descendants of Anak: Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai. Then there was Debir. Caleb offered to give his daughter, Achsah, to the man who took the city. And we’re told that Othniel, the son of Caleb’s brother, Kenaz, took Debir. They were then married, and Caleb gave them their portion of the land. 


STUDY QUESTIONS:

  • What is the second reason for Caleb’s greatness?
  • How much time passed between when Caleb first saw the city of Hebron, and when he was able to receive it as his own?  What does that reveal about Caleb, and what does it teach us about God?

REFLECTION:

Was there ever a time when you found yourself looking at the difficulties, rather than God, and thought you were able to handle them on your own?  What was it that caused you to finally turn to God for the help and victory you needed?

APPLICATION:

Pray and ask God to show you any areas in your life where you may not be living wholeheartedly for him.  Then pray for the desire and strength to commit that area fully to him.

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Thinking and Acting Biblically from James Boice is a devotional of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. It is supported only by its readers and gracious Christians like you. Please prayerfully consider supporting Thinking and Acting Biblically and the mission of the Alliance.