Wednesday, December 15, 2010

More On Caleb

In this earlier post I talked about why I thought Caleb was such a cool guy, especially in his later years of life. In short, he was an 85 year old man who had no qualms about going into a land filled with giants, as long as God was with him.

After doing the reading and study for this week's men's Bible study, I like the guy all the more. In Joshua 15 we read about what happened after the 85 year old Caleb entered the land of giants: he drove them all out, just like he said he would. And then after he was done with them, he went on to another town and drove them out too. He was then free to bless his children and family members with sections of good land. What a cool story. It's a great testimony about what is possible when one believes and trusts God.

The story gets even better, though, because it's contrasted with other stories about stronger, younger people who couldn't do what Caleb did. Why not? Because they lacked faith.

Later in Joshua 15 we read about the tribe of Judah, who, after they had received the inheritance of land that was given to them, wasn't able to drive out the Jebusites, and was then forced to make them into laborers and servants. Similarly, in Joshua 16, the Manassites couldn't drive out the Canaanites from their land, and they had to take them as laborers as well. Finally, in Joshua 17, the tribes of Joseph (the Manassites and Ephraimites) were too afraid to go and drive people out of the land that had been given to them.

What happened with these tribes? Did they forget that as long as God was with them, and as long as they were following his commands, that they would be successful? Apparently so. Up to this point, Israel had only been defeated in battle once, and it was because they were trusting in themselves and not in God. They were also forced to take the Gibeonites as laborers instead of wiping them out from the land that was rightfully theirs because they failed to consult God on the matter. But when Israel trusted and followed God, they were absolutely unstoppable - even against horses, chariots, and armies whose soldiers were as numerous as the sand on the seashore. But now there are these three tribes (actually 2 1/2 tribes) that suddenly find themselves to be too wimpy to do what must be done. What happened?

What's interesting is that when the tribes of Joseph complain to Joshua that they don't have enough land, and that the land they want is occupied by foreigners, Joshua seems to say, "So what? Go get 'em? They're in your land? Then go kick them out!" Why does Joshua react this way? I think it's because he knows that all things are possible with God, and if the tribes of Joseph would trust God, getting rid of these people wouldn't be a problem (which is exactly what Caleb thought when he marched into the land of giants).

Caleb did what these other tribes failed to do: trust God and act in faith. And it's even more remarkable since Caleb was 85 at the time and had far fewer soldiers than any of the tribes did. Caleb didn't have to take any laborers or slaves, or be responsible for more mouths to feed. He trusted God - even when that trust seemed to go against all reason - what chance did an 85 year old with just his family to fight with him have against giants? All the chance in the world, because God was fighting for him.

It goes to show how easily and quickly we can forget God's faithfulness to us, and that we can always trust in him. I want to be like Caleb.

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