Joshua 14: Caleb

Joshua 14 continues the account of how the land was divided, crossing now to the western side of the Jordan. As Joshua and his officials sat down to figure out how this territory would be divided among the tribes, though, a familiar face re-emerges. Caleb, one of the twelve spies that Moses had dispatched to scope the promise land four decades earlier, and one of only two (Joshua being the other) who brought back a favorable report, approaches Joshua and asks to be given Hebron in the hill country as he had been promised by Moses so long ago.

In vss 6-15, we learn some incredible facts about Caleb. For instance, we discover that he was 40 years old when sent by Moses. Forty-five years have passed since then, making him now approximately 85 years old. And yet Caleb claims that he is “still as strong today as the day Moses sent [him] out.” He adds, “I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then.”

Eighty-five years old and still fit, both physically and mentally. And ready for a fight. Pretty impressive, to say the least. But check out what he says in verse 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 were large and fortified.”

Let’s break this statement down just a bit.

Caleb is asking for Joshua to officially give him the inheritance that he was promised by Moses four and a half decades earlier. At first, it sounds rather greedy. But then again, he was only asking for what was promised to him.

And then we discover that the territory in question is one of those “very large areas” not yet conquered, which God noted in 13:1.

Not only that, but Caleb goes on to remind us that the inhabitants of the area in question are called the Anakites. If you don’t remember them, they’re the ones that the other ten spies specifically mentioned as they aimed to dissuade the Israelites from taking Canaan under Moses. In Numbers 13:32-33, we read of them, “All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” In case you missed it, the descendants of Anak were Anakites. And these Nephilim? Well, to learn about them, we go all the way back to Genesis 6:4, where we read, “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.” So what do we know about these Anakites? We know that they’re giants. We know that they were at least rumored to have been the descendants of angels and women. And we know that they somehow managed to survive the deluge of Noah’s time.

And just in case that wasn’t enough, Caleb also notes that these Anakites’ cities were large and fortified. In other words, attacking these cities would be a tall task (pun intended)!

These are important things to notice because they make what Caleb says next all the more impressive. He said, “But” – that is, despite all these things – “the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.”

Did you hear that?

Caleb just said that the size of these Anakites, the specter of their cities, and even the fact that Israel had shrunk back from attacking them forty years earlier were absolutely inconsequential! Instead, he points to God’s promise, claims God’s help, and then declares matter-of-factly that he, and he alone, will drive these Anakites out.

Talk about a bold faith! Caleb was so assured that his God – that’s another critical thing to note, by the way – could absolutely take care of these bad guys, and so he didn’t even bother to ask for help. One man, plus his one God, would get the job done.

Wow.

How often do we shrink back from tasks which seem overwhelming? We say to ourselves, “Oh, that’s an awful lot of hard work, so we better not even try.” When what God really wants us to say is, “Well, yeah, it will be a lot of hard work, but with God’s help, we will get it done.”

In this kind of attitude are two very important realizations. The first is that we may (read that, probably will) have to work hard. This is one of those things that we don’t often like to hear, but it is absolutely true. If we want to be successful at anything, whether it’s getting in shape, raising a family, growing a church, succeeding in business, etc., more often than not, we’re going to have to work hard.

And the second important realization in that attitude is that, with our hard work and God’s help, we can and will succeed, regardless of the challenges which face us.

Now, I understand that this was probably a lot easier for Caleb to believe than it is for us. After all, he had witnessed, firsthand, the Lord’s power when He brought the plagues on Egypt, parted the Red Sea, lit Mt Sinai on fire, stopped the Jordan River, felled the walls of Jericho, and more. It was clear to Caleb that, whatever it was, God could.

But then again, we have reliable accounts of all these same things happening! We believe that the earth is round because we read it in a book, even though most of us have never been into space to see it for ourselves. We believe that most of the people around us have brains, even though there aren’t many of us who have X-ray vision to confirm it. We believe that God did all those things.

It’s time we believe that, with God’s help, we can. So today, figure out what it is that you’re supposed to do. Then get up, work hard toward that end, and trust God to take care of the rest.

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