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Do You Have the Spirit of Caleb?

Recently, I was thinking about the story of Caleb.  In Joshua 14:12-15 we read: Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the LORD spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified.  It may be that the LORD will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the LORD said.”  And Joshua blessed him, and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh as an inheritance.  Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholly followed the LORD God of Israel.  And the name of Hebron formerly was Kirjath Arba (Arba was the greatest man among the Anakim).  Then the land had rest from war. 


Although Hebron has a long and rich Jewish history dating back thousands of years, today, it is one of the most dangerous cities in Israel.  It is located in what the world calls the West Bank, known to us as Judea and Samaria.  The Palestinian Authority controls 80% of the city, whereas the remaining 20% is controlled jointly by the Israeli military and Palestinian civil organisations.  This division came about under the terms of the Hebron Protocol, signed in January 1997. 


However, it is the Biblical significance of Hebron (mentioned 87 times in the Bible) which is most interesting because it was a place of giants (Joshua 15:13-14), a place of death and burial (Genesis 23:1-2), a place of refuge (Joshua 20) and a place of coronation (2 Samuel 5:3).  But to Caleb, it was a place of promise.  Before Joshua had confirmed the inheritance to Caleb, we read of the Lord’s promise in Deuteronomy 1:34-35: “And the LORD heard the sound of your words, and was angry, and took an oath, saying, ‘Surely not one of these men of this evil generation shall see that good land of which I swore to give to your fathers, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him and his children I am giving the land on which he walked, because he wholly followed the LORD.’”


The story of Caleb’s claim to Hebron is more than just a man desiring a piece of real estate.  It shares a practical message that should encourage us today: God keeps His promises and will enable His people to serve Him if they will trust Him and obey His Word.  You see, Caleb’s name means “wholehearted” and Hebron means “fellowship”.  We see the substance of that in Deuteronomy 1:34-35 when God promises Caleb the land, because he wholly followed the LORD.  What we glean from this is that Caleb was promised the whole mountain (ie. the fulness of his inheritance) because of his fellowship with God through his wholehearted devotion to God.  This is wonderfully demonstrated in 1 John 1:3-4 (emphasis added): that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.  And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.  What a wonderful gift of grace that our joy may be full when we fully devote ourselves to God because we have fellowship with the Father through His Son Jesus Christ! 


In Numbers 14:24, God says of Caleb: But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it.  When people say that you are “different”, they often use it in a derogatory sense.  But here, God celebrates that Caleb has a different spirit within him.  Why?  Because he trusted God, followed God and was devoted to God.  Numbers 32:11 notes the contrast and the resulting fact that some Israelites would not receive their inheritance because they disobeyed God (emphasis added): Surely none of the men who came up from Egypt, from twenty years old and above, shall see the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, because they have not wholly followed Me.     


In the church today, we see a similar sentiment.  Those who belong to the remnant church are believed to be exhibiting a different spirit.  However, to the world and the apostate church, this “different spirit” is not one which they celebrate, but one which is thought of as strange.  Though they may claim it is strange, our goal is simply that which was also precious to Caleb – to wholly follow God and to fully claim our spiritual inheritance.  As Charles Spurgeon once said: “Be out-and-out for Him; unfurl your colours, never hide them, but nail them to the mast, and say to all who ridicule the saints, ‘If you have any ill words for the followers of Christ, pour them out upon me…but know this – ye shall hear it whether you like it or not, - I love Christ.’”


The distinguishing mark of the spirit that God delights in is the spirit of faith in Him.  In other words, it represents a faith that takes God at His Word and knows it to be true.  That is why Caleb should be an inspiration to all of us today.  He demonstrated a confidence in the very same covenant-keeping God who deserves our wholehearted love and commitment.  As the sheep follows the shepherd; as the soldier follows the captain; as the servant follows the master, may we be reminded that the antidote to a lukewarm spirit is to take the example of Caleb and follow the Lord with all our heart!

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