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Friday, June 10, 2011

Caleb--A Man of Honor

HebronImage by Oregon State University Archives via FlickrYou might think of Caleb as a minor Bible character, but think again.  Caleb was the kind of person God calls us all to be.  We find Caleb first in chapter 13 of the Book of Numbers.  He was chosen to accompany Joshua and 10 other leaders to go into the Promised Land to scout it out. 

Caleb was an honorable and trustworthy son of Jephunneh from the tribe of Judah.  When the 12 men returned from their trip into the Promised Land, they assured the Children of Israel that the land was everything they had hoped for.  They spent 40 days exploring and viewing the land.  It had vineyards and orchards with fig trees and pomegranate trees and well-watered plains.  They said it "flowed with milk and honey." 

Then the opinions were no longer unanimous.  Joshua and Caleb assured Moses and the people that they should go up and take the land for they were well able to do it, but the other 10 spies pointed out the strength and power of the inhabitants.  They lived in fortified cites: the descendants of Anak lived in Hebron; the Amalekites lived in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites lived in the hill country; and the Canaanites lived near the sea.  There was no place where they could settle that they would not have to fight a strong, settled population--it would be foolishness to try to take the land.  "We looked like grasshoppers next to them," they said.   

That night they wept because the land was good but they were weak.  The people discussed choosing a new leader and returning to Egypt.  For the second time Joshua and Caleb wept and tore their clothes in an attempt to persuade the people to obey the Lord, but they would not listen.  Joshua and Caleb were in danger of being stoned with Moses and Aaron.

The Lord appeared to the whole assembly at the Tent of Meeting.  He told them the penalty for disobedience--they would not be allowed to enter the Promised Land.  The ten spies that brought the evil report were struck down by a plague.  All the people who were 20 years old when they left Egypt and were counted in the census would die in the desert except Joshua and Caleb.  They would wander the desert as shepherds, a year for each day of the spy trip.  The next day they decided they would enter the land and they marched out to meet the Amalekites and Canaanites, but neither the Ark of the Lord nor Moses went with them.  God had given them a new command which they disobeyed in presumption, and they were defeated.

Caleb lived to enter the land.  Joshua gave him Hebron in the Hill Country. 

Caleb exhibits the kind of character we admire but don't see much.  He stood firm in righteousness against personal insult and attack.  His strength is an inspiration to us today.  May we be open to receive his example.
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