Tuesday, June 13, 2006

In the Spirit of Caleb

You are probably familiar with the story of Joshua and Caleb, the two spies (of twelve) who explored the promised land of Canaan and returned with a favorable report. With faith in God, Caleb silenced the people and said, "We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can surely do it." But the people did not share his courage and grumbled - and wandered for 40 years in the wilderness.

Although I'm tempted to elaborate on the parallel to our own national and religious apathy and consequent 40 year wandering, I will instead draw your attention to the character of Caleb.

The LORD said of Caleb, "He has a different spirit and has followed me fully."

Could the LORD say the same of you or me? Do you have a different spirit? Do you follow Him fully? Or does it depend on the cost?

Caleb had so much confidence in his submission and obedience to God that he could say, "I wholly followed the LORD my God."

After a 40 year wait, Caleb approached Joshua to remind him of the covenant God made to Moses concerning Caleb's inheritance. At 85 years of age, Caleb told Joshua, "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."

Apparently, Caleb had not heard about luxury Christian retirement communities. No, even at 85, he was eager to fight and to receive what God Himself promised to him. In fact, he had a very specific request: Caleb asked for the hill country of Hebron. Why?

Hebron was the land of the Fathers - where Abraham met Melchizedek, where he buried Sarah, and where his own body was laid to rest. Caleb longed to finish his life in the promised land and to rest with the Patriarchs...and so he did.

"Therefore Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb...because he wholly followed the LORD, the God of Israel."

I long to rest with the Fathers, with the NT saints, with my LORD. Do you also? Then let us first, like Caleb, put on a different spirit, wholeheartedly following the LORD, counting the cost, vigorous for war...for there is much to do.

"We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can surely do it."

(These ideas were presented in a lovely and articulate sermon presented by a young man in my congregation. They have weighed in my mind for weeks. May God bless and keep him, and make him fruitful all the days of his life.)