The Spirit of Caleb
There is great meaning for us in Romans 15:4, “For whatsoever things were written qforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” Again,“Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples, and they are written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come.” (First Corinthians 10:11). Man not only can profit from his own experiences, but he who is wise can also profit from the experiences of others. Although many details of life may change through the years, man, his basic needs, the principles of truth, remain essentially the same year after year.
There are two equally erroneous concepts regarding the new and the old. Some have the idea if something is new it must be bad, and only the old is worthwhile. Others have the opposite thought that if something is new it must be good. Our standard must be if something is right according to God's Word it is good, otherwise, it is bad. God has revealed to man in His Word the right and wrong principles and specifics. The Scriptures furnish us completely unto every good work (Second Timothy 3:16,17). “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my pathway.” (Psalm 119:105 ). Often God informs us of His will by revealing the lives of those who have lived before us and His evaluation of those lives.
Attitude of Heart
One necessity in serving God properly is to possess the right attitude of heart. “Keep thy heart with all diligence for our of it are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23). God wants man to have the right kind of spirit within him, the correct frame of mind and disposition. “Blessed are the pure in heart…” (Matthew 5:8). We are to “…call on God out of a pure heart.” (Second Timothy 2:22). In the Old Testament we read of a man whose spirit, attitude, was acceptable to God and who is presented to us as an example to follow. The man of whom we speak was named Caleb. We wish to consider six attitudes he possessed that we would do well to imitate.
Consider the Man
Let us first become acquainted with Caleb. Caleb was an Israelite who lived during a crucial period of Israel's history .He was among those who were led by Moses out of Egyptian bondage. He spent some forty years of his life with Israel in the wilderness, and was involved in conquering the land of Canaan. He was one of the two men over twenty years of age that left Egypt that God permitted to enter the promised land. His successful entry was largely due to his attitude and how it was manifested by his words and deeds. His life was hard, dangerous, and a continual struggle for survival. God speaks of Caleb in the following manner when He denounced the ten faithless spies,“But my servant Caleb, because he hath another spirit with him, and hath followed mw fully, him will I bring into the land whereunto he went, and his seed shall possess it.” (Numbers 10:24). He was a man of a different spirit and it made a difference.
Israel had left Egypt and had come to the southern borders of Canaan. Moses sent out twelve spies to view the land. They were gone for forty days, returned, and gave their report.“And they went and came to Moses and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran to Kadesh, and brought back word unto them, and unto all the congregation, and shewed them the fruit of the land. And they told him and said, We came into the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey, and this is the fruit of it. Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled and very great, and moreover we saw the children of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south, and the Hittites and Jebusites and Amorites dwell in the mountains, and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan.” (Numbers 13:26-29). The conclusion of most of the spies was, "We be not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we. And they brought up an evil report of the land which they searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof, and all the people that we saw in it are men of great stature. And there we saw giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants, and we were in our sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.” (Numbers 13:31-33).
Upon hearing this, the people murmured against Moses and Aaron. “Would God we had died in the land of Egypt, or would we had died in this wilderness.” (Numbers 14:2). This fearful, faithless attitude is in deep contrast with the spirit of Caleb. He said.“Let us go up at once and possess it, for we are well able to overcome it. " (Numbers 13:30). This may well have been the finest hour of his life. But the people paid no attention to him and would have stoned him, and Joshua who stood with him.
Caleb had a spirit of faith in God. God had brought the people from Egypt to the promised land as He said He would, Israel had received God's provisions throughout their journey in the wildemess, The land was just as God said it would be, flowing with milk and honey. With God, taking the land was possible, yea, certain, Caleb did not minimize the size of the task, but, like Paul said concerning Christ.“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Phillippians 4:13). Caleb trusted God. Should we not imitate his faith?
Caleb also had a spirit of courage. His courage was directly the result of his faith. Though the opponents were strong, even giants and had walled cities, he was not afraid.Along with Joshua, he said. “If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us, a land which floweth with milk and honey. Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us; their defense is departed from them, and the Lord is with us, fear them not.” (Numbers 14:8,9). His courageous attitude was similar to that which David expressed many years later, “Let no man's heart fail because of him, thy servant will go and fight this Philistine… The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.”(First Samuel 17:32,37). Today we must be mindful of the warning in Revelation 21:8, that among those that shall be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone are. "…the fearful.” The lack of courage to stand for the right and against the wrong is not to be characteristic of us. We must never weaken and surrender to the evil world.
Caleb had the spirit of cooperation. He said, "Let US (emphasis, JWB) go up,” not let me do it or you do it. WE (emphasis, JWB) are able to overcome it. “Working together the task could be accomplished. Good men, working side by side, for the common good and a single goal can accomplish wonders. There is strength in unity. United we stand and divided we fall. This same attitude possessed the people of Judah under the leadership of Nehemiah when time came for the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. They said, “Let US (emphasis. JWB), rise up and build.”(Nehemiah 2:18). Caleb sought no power, rank, personal glory or gain. He wanted to cooperate with others, encourage others to cooperate. Today we must have this same attitude toward the work we are to do for the Lord. Hand in hand and heart with heart we can do what God wants done.
Optimism and Enthusiasm
Caleb had the spirit of optimism and enthusiasm. This is evidenced In his words.“Let us rise up AT ONCE AND POSSESS IT.”(Emphasis, JWB). He had the “we can” attitude. “Can't never could: but can, can.” He was burning with zeal. He wanted action. Now was the time. The task was before them and his call was, “To the work.” “They can who think they can.” There was no need to delay but to go up "at once." Success was theirs to have. They could possess the land. Delay was only destructive to them. Opportunity was knocking and if unanswered It would go passed them.
Unfortunately, Israel did hesitate, deliberate, procrastinate, and did not go up. They were not allowed to enter the land until another forty years of long, arduous, weary wanderings in the wilderness, and until death had overtaken all those twenty years old and older, except Joshua and Caleb. Certainly proper planning is necessary in tackling a work. But there eventually comes a time for action and deeds. If no action follows, both the optimism and enthusiasm will drain away and the opportunity departs. Every Christian ought have the attitude, “Let us be up and at it.”
Caleb had the spirit of total submission to the way of the Lord. God said of Caleb, “He hath followed me fully." What a commendation! Often a dreadful spiritual plague dominates, handicaps the life and service of many professed Christians. Indifference, lukewarmness, half hearted service, partial service, reserved obedience is the case. A religion of convenience is not conviction. Inconsistency, conflicts of interest often are evident, and the Lord is forced to take a “back seat” and second best. There is not enough of the attitude that we sing, “All to Jesus I surrender.” To follow God fully means to give God His way, every day, every time, all the time, in whatever situation. Christianity is of such a nature that man cannot be a true disciple if he does not follow God fully. Since God gave His only begotten Son, and He gave His life, why should we expect God to be pleased with us when our devotion, worship, dedication, service, obedience and daily life is stained with worldly pursuits, personal whims, blighted by negligence, marred by an “on and off, now and then" kind of religion? The lesson of putting first things first and following God fully is one we all need to study. “He that findeth his life shall lost it, and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matthew 10:39).
Patience and Endurance
Finally, Caleb had the spirit of patience and endurance because he had hope. Through no fault of his own, in spite of everything he could do to prevent it, Caleb was denied entrance into the promised land at that time. Because of the sins of others he was subjected to the wilderness for forty years. Such was a trial of personal stability, patience, and the power to endure. There was the temptation to be discouraged and abandon the goal, just give up, quit, with the attitude, “What's the use, nobody cares.” He could have become bitter and blamed his suffering on others. Throughout these forty burdensome years he never lost hope for himself or Israel. Such a spirit is indispensable for today's servant of God.“He that endureth to the end, shall be saved.” (Matthew 10:22). "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." (Revelation 2:10). This means we will be faithful not only “until” death, but faithful even if it means faithfulness means death.
We now draw a few conclusions. How much better and more dutiful servants of God we would be if we had the same spirit within as was within Caleb! We need the spirit of faith, courage, cooperation, optimism and zealous enthusiasm. We need total followship and submission, patience and endurance with hope. In this way we shall build better families, communities, congregations. This way we can make significant contributions to generations yet to come if time continues. Furthermore, regardless of others and their destiny, like Caleb, it will lead us to the eternal promised land of heaven. Is it not worth it all?