Joshua 14: The Lone Soldier

February 13, 2011 Series: Joshua: Lord's Army

Topic: Old Testament Passage: Joshua 14:1–14:15

  

V. 2, 5 Land, Lots, and Sidekicks 

Joshua 14 continues where we left off last week with Joshua distributing the land amongst the tribes of Israel, the 12 sons of Jacob.  God commands that the land be divided by casting lots.  2 Their inheritance was by lot, just as the Lord had commanded by the hand of Moses for the nine and one-half tribes….5 The people of Israel did as the Lord commanded Moses; they allotted the land.   And, as God controls the falling the lots, we see that God himself assigns the shape, size, and nature of all portions, all gifts, all experiences, all that he promises as life in His land.  And though sin and stupidity can influence our lot, what can be confident that we have (or don’t have) is still governed by God’s sovereign will in accordance with his perfect grace, mercy, goodness, and justice.  Exactly what METHOD they used to “cast lots” is unclear. And though we rightly view this an archaic practice, that hasn’t stopped us from trying to develop our own strange ways discerning God’s will for our decisions.  The last time we see lots cast in the Bible are is when the disciples cast lots to replace the betrayer Judas as one of the 12 disciples.  The next chapter, the Holy Spirit is poured out on the church.  In other words, stones, straws, and small slips of paper have been replaced by the Spirit of the Living God dwelling in us.     

 

Obedience & Faithfulness

The value of these first verses is not the method of casting or even that God gave portions.  The power of these verses is the phrase, “THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL DID AS THE LORD COMMANDED.”  Faithfulness is not all about big wars and conquests.  When God commissioned Joshua as leader, he didn’t say, “Be careful to do MOST of what I say, OR, “Be faithful in what you determine as the IMPORTANT things…” OR, “Be strong and courageous to FOLLOW when you’re under attack or in need.”   In other words, obedience in what might seem like meaningless tasks is just as important as fighting the big wars.  However God told them to distribute the land, even if they felt they had a better way, faster method, or a plan that just made more sense….they were to obey.  Think about that.  Some of us think we know what it means to be a faithful Christian but, according to God’s word, we’re following faithfully. 

 

V. 6  Faithful Caleb

The heart of this passage is about a genuinely faithful soldier named Caleb—I love Caleb.  If Joshua is the example of a faithful leader and general, Caleb is the example of a faithful follower and soldier. SOME OF US will be called to be Joshua’s, but ALL OF US are called to be Caleb’s.  After Joshua reviews previously allotted the lands to Rueben, Gad, and Manasseh on the Eastern side of the Jordan in chapter 13, he proceeds to distribute the remaining tribes on the West side of the Jordan.  But before he allots land to Judah, Caleb reminds Joshua of God’s Word: 6 Then the people of Judah came to Joshua at Gilgal. And Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know what the Lord said to Moses the man of God in Kadesh-barnea concerning you and me.

 

Who was Caleb? V. 7

Who was Caleb and what did the LORD say to Moses?  We first read about Caleb well before he was a battle-hardened 85 year old; when he was a young sprite of 40 in the wilderness on the edge Canaan.  He was among the 12 men chosen by Moses, representing the 12 tribes, to spy out the Promised Land for 40 days.  He represented the tribe of Judah.  Joshua also went, representing Ephraim.  When the group returned, a faithless majority reported that, though the land was FLOWING WITH MILK AND HONEY (As God had said), Canaan was also FLOWING with giant men (Sons of Anak) who looked too big and powerful for them to conquer (Not as God had said).  As verse 7 says, Caleb brought a report from his heart.  In Numbers 13, we hear Caleb’s minority report: Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” (Num. 13.30).  Though Caleb expressed a fear the power of God, the majority convinced Israel to fear the power men.  Along with Joshua, a confident Caleb said, “8 If the Lord delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. 9 Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them” (Num 14.8-9). Though God promises future blessing for Caleb, he experiences ISOLATION for his stand.  It is here that we begin to see what FAITH looks like.

 

#1 – A DIFFERENT FAITH

First, Caleb’s faith is different. When they pick up stones to stone their leaders, God shows up and tells Moses he is going to kill everyone and make a great nation with him.  Moses intercedes and God relents, promising judgment for the entire generation, namely, that they will die. Then he tells Moses about Caleb:  24 But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it (Numbers 14.24).  Caleb had a DIFFERENT SPIRIT.  The different spirit is a genuine devotion to God.  This is not devotion to men, devotion to land, devotion to church, devotion to religion or spirituality, it is heart-felt, I COUNT EVERYTHING ELSE I MIGHT OBTAIN IN THIS WORLD AS NOTHING, devotion to God.  Genuine devotion to the one true God will, at some point, require you to take a stand—requiring you to sacrifice immediate blessings for future ones.  The truth is, many claim to be “Christian”, but the majority of people who claim that label don’t actually follow God’s Word.  Why?  Because following God’s Word means doing what is unpopular, unwise, and even unusual in the eyes of the world.  And taking a stand doesn’t mean standing on the lunch table in the break room and preaching the gospel. We don’t try and get a different spirit, we possess a different spirit.  And that spirit moves us to live a differently.  We take a stand because we believe in Jesus.  And if we truly believe in Jesus, we have a different Spirit dwelling in us.  And that different spirit COMPELS us to pursue different marriages, different finances, and different work ethic; to hold to a different view of suffering, different purposes, a different source joy and different source of hope.

 

#2– A WHOLE FAITH v. 8-9

Second, Caleb’s faith is whole-hearted. 8 But my brothers who went up with me made the heart of the people melt; yet I wholly followed the Lord my God. 9 And Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden shall be an inheritance for you and your children forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord my God.’  He WHOLLY followed the LORD my God.  Can we say that?  I did not ask if you can say I followed him perfectly, only if you followed Him wholeheartedlyYou can follow God whole-heartedly and fail BUT you cannot follow God half-heartedly and ever succeed.  God describes Caleb as possessing a “different spirit” and Moses describes Caleb as having “wholly followed.”  Consider the alternative.  Imagine possessing an ORDINARY SPIRIT and following PARTLY or HALF-HEARTEDLY.   [Sarcastic] I don’t know about you, but those are the kinds of people I want to be friends with, work with, or be married to.  Give me the partially committed, the half-hearted, the sometimes humble, the every-now-and-then truthful.  And though that sounds ridiculous, there are more people than fewer who follow God and love His bride with their leftovers and after-thoughts.  There was no doubt about Caleb’s faith.  And as Numbers 13 evidences, He didn’t do it because of the benefit to himself.  The moment he took a stand, God had not promised him anything.  Without the promise of blessing or guarantee of success, without the assurance of security, he followed God.  That is faith.  

 

#3 – A HUMBLE FAITH V. 10

Third, Caleb’s faith is humble.  10 And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, just as he said, these forty-five years since the time that the Lord spoke this word to Moses, while Israel walked in the wilderness. Though Caleb and Joshua took their stand together as spies in the beginning, Caleb has silently served in the shadow of General Joshua through the wilderness wandering, across the Jordan, and in a war for seven years.   And while God’s promise for blessing was in the back of his mind, though he could easily be tempted to claim the recognition he deserved, for 45 years , he places the needs of others before his own. Caleb is a humble leader.   There are those who SERVE by LEADING and there are those who LEAD by SERVING.  Caleb was that trustworthy, never complaining, I believe in you soldiers who helped Joshua fulfill God’s command to lead.  Not everyone will be a Joshua—a leader, out front, chosen by God to lead a group of people, accountable and responsible for others, worthy of double honor AND double judgment.  For some of us, it is an ENCOURAGEMENT to know what you are not expected to burden—that you don’t have to be the general, the one carving the path, the one responsible for making the unpopular decisions. For some of us, this is DISCOURAGING because it is less than you desire, feel your entitled to, or envision yourself.  You want to be Joshua, and you are not content with being Caleb.  You don’t realize that every Joshua begins as a Caleb.  Before you judge the role of Caleb as less, let me tell you how important Caleb is.  Dare I see, we need less Joshuas and more Calebs—strong helpers who LEAD by SERVING. We need more men and women willing to follow leaders up the hill.  We need more men and women who are so faithful that, when we charge the hill we know IF EVERYONE ELSE RUNS, you are there. We need more men and women who aren’t worried about position or title, but about following Jesus.   Joshua always had Caleb to help him stay on mission.  Consider the different Caleb’s you have been given   (Bride, Elders), then consider the Caleb that you might be to someone else. 

 

#4 A ENDURING FAITH v. 10b-11

Fourth, his faith is enduring.  God kept his faith strong for many years.  And for most of those years, there were not battles going on.  For most of those years, he was stuck in a wilderness he did not deserve.  Today, it takes us all of 45 minutes for my faith to fail if I haven’t seen it “produce” something.  Despite 45 years of nothing, listen to the vigor and energy with which he speaks about faith: 10 And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, just as he said, these forty-five years since the time that the Lord spoke this word to Moses, while Israel walked in the wilderness. And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. 11 I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming.  Does this sound like us?  This man speaks of a faith in God as if he really has a relationship with Him.  This is not some cardboard God that he follows; he has placed his trust in a God who has walked with him every day for 45 years.  This guy is battling for God when he was 80 years old with a sword in one hand and a bottle of GERITOL in the other.  It is no wonder that God had to battle for these guys, they were all using walkers and wheelchairs!  We need Caleb’s like this, men and women with years of faithfulness and years of experiences to share. Men and women’s whose faith grows and grows and grows with every year.  Faithful men and women who do not grow more cynical, but more faithful, hopeful, and even powerful. 

 

#5 A BOLD FAITH v. 12

Finally, consider how BOLD Caleb’s faith is.  He is not simply grateful for how God has carried him over 45 years, he is ready to battle.  And it isn’t just any battle he wants to pick—he is not resigned to chalk up the next years as a “new season” of rest.  He requests to take on the most DIFFICULT battle there is left.  12 So now give me this hill country of which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there, with great fortified cities. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the Lord said.” These are not the everyday Canaanites we are talking about…these are the super-sized kind.  Caleb’s confidence does not come from his aged wisdom, experience, or skill.  The confidence that he would drive out the GIANTS came from God’s Word—THE LORD SAID.  A lack of gratitude toward God, a lack of love for God’s people, a lack of energy for God’s mission, a lack of purpose for your role in that mission begins with a lack of trust in God’s Word.  The day the Word of God becomes a dead book, is the day that you begin to worship a dead God.  Our God is living.  The Word of God is living. And it is brought life through the Spirit of God dwelling in our hearts.  And it is this Spirit of God that brings not only comfort and knowledge, but power.  2Timothy 2.6-7 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.  Jesus didn’t tell his disciples to do great things, he told them to believe God is great. Doing great things will not PROVE faith, it certainly stimulates it. 

 

CONCLUSION: Final Mission

Caleb believed God’s great promises and acted upon them when no one else did.  And because he acted, God blessed Him.  13 Then Joshua blessed him, and he gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance. 14 Therefore Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholly followed the Lord, the God of Israel. 15 Now the name of Hebron formerly was Kiriath-arba. (Arba was the greatest man among the Anakim.) And the land had rest from war.

 

Faith leads to blessing

The faithful leader Joshua keeps God’s promise and blesses the faithful soldier Caleb.  He gives him the royal city of Hebron, the highest city in all of Palestine—a city literally on a hill.  It was the area that Caleb had spied out 45 years prior, a city flowing the milk and honey, a city where Abraham’s wife Sarah was buried, a city where one day David would be crowned King of Israel.  And it says that Caleb received his inheritance because he WHOLLY followed the LORD.  One moment of faithfulness resulted in blessing.  Similarly, a generation’s moment of rebellion resulted in their condemnation.  For Israel, Caleb provides an example of unbreakable faith in the sovereignty of God and an uncompromising commitment to mission to which all other tribes will be compared.  And his faith results in obtaining an inheritance.

 

Faith means acting

For us, Caleb’s faith might seem so different that we distance ourselves from it and say, “THAT IS FOR THOSE SPIRITUAL GIANTS” like pastors. Caleb’s faith is not bold as much as it is simply biblical. Following God wholly does not mean following God perfectly.  It means ACTING UPON THE WORD OF GOD as if you really believe it.  Those who are faithful, do not make excuses, do not follow according to emotion, intellect, or experience.  Those who are faithful ACT because the gospel changes them.  1Thessalonians 1.4-8  For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. 6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.

 

And by as God grants us faith to believe like Caleb, he also sustains us, strengthens us, empowers us, and sends us to live on mission until the day we die.  Not everyone is made to be a Joshua; but everyone IN CHRIS is made to be a Caleb.   

 

BENEDICTION

We act upon the promises of God fully realizing we may not realize those promises for 45 years, or ever in our life.  But God will fulfill his promises, if not in his life, the next.  Let this be the attitude of all those who call upon the name of Christ:  Hebrews 11.13-16 13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

 

More in Joshua: Lord's Army

April 3, 2011

Joshua 24: The Choice

March 27, 2011

Joshua 23: The Charge

March 20, 2011

Joshua 22: The Breach