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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Faith and Caleb

Faith And Caleb

Caleb was one of the 12 spies that Moses sent into the Promised Land to spy on the land and see how things stood. In Joshua 13-14, all 12 spies came back to tell the people that the land was truly wonderful. They even brought back some samples of the tremendous produce of the land like the huge bunch of grapes. But, 10 of the spies said that the inhabitants of the land were giants and it was too dangerous to try and overcome them. But Joshua and Caleb tried to encourage the Hebrews and told them that even though it was true, that God could help them and they would be able to take the Promised Land. Unfortunately, the Jewish people only listened to the discouraging word of the 10 spies and not to the faith-filled words of the 2 spies, Joshua and Caleb. Because of this the people were punished by wandering in the Wilderness for 40 years until all the original adults who had left Egypt had died, except for Joshua and Caleb. Joshua became the leader after Moses died and led them into the Promised Land to take it. Caleb helped him and recieved Hebron as his inheritance. Both were greatly blessed by God.

Where Did Caleb Come From?

"By marriage and submission to the bond of Jehovah's covenant with Israel [Caleb] became a true Israelite by adoption; a specimen of God's mercy to the Gentiles even in Old Testament times, and a pledge of the opening of the door of faith to them widely in the New Testament. So Jethro, Rahab, Ruth, Naaman. Kenaz his ancestor was a duke of Edom (Genesis 36:11; Genesis 36:15). The names Shobal and Manahath are other Edomite (Genesis 36:20-23) names which appear among the sons of the Caleb in 1 Chronicles 2:50; 1 Chronicles 2:52.

"Jephunneh, his father's name, is probably the same as Pinon (1 Chronicles 1:52; Genesis 36:41). Termanites too are among the children of Ashur, Hezron's son (1 Chronicles 4:6). This consideration helps to account for the large numbers of Israelites at the Exodus; proselytes and marriage connections from other races swelled the number of Israelites of pure blood. Hebron was afterward a priests' city, belonging to the Kohathites; but the territory about which continued in Caleb's family (from which sprang the churl Nabal, for faith does not always come by blood descent) at the time of David (1 Samuel 25:3; 1 Samuel 30:14)." -Faussett's Bible Dictionary

What Happened to Caleb?

Numbers 14:22-24 Because all those men who have seen My glory and My miracles which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted Me now these ten times, and have not listened to My voice, surely they shall not see the land which I swore to their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked Me see it. But My servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and has followed Me fully, I will bring him into the land into which he went. And his seed shall possess it.

Deuteronomy 1:35-38 Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I swore to give to your fathers, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him I will give the land that he has trodden upon, and to his sons, because he has fully followed Jehovah. Also Jehovah was angry with me for your sakes, saying, You also shall not go in there. Joshua the son of Nun, who stands before you, he shall go in there. Make him strong, for he shall cause Israel to inherit it.

Joshua 14:6-15 Then the sons of Judah came to Joshua in Gilgal. And Caleb, the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite, said to him, You know the thing that Jehovah said to Moses the man of God in Kadesh-barnea regarding you and me. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of Jehovah sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land. And I brought him word again as it was in my heart. But my brothers that went up with me made the heart of the people melt; yet I fully followed Jehovah my God. And Moses swore on that day, saying, Surely the land on which your feet have trodden shall be your inheritance, and your sons' forever because you have fully followed Jehovah my God. And now, behold, Jehovah has kept me alive these forty-five years as He said, even since Jehovah spoke this word to Moses, while Israel wandered in the wilderness. And now, lo, I am eighty-five years old today. As yet I am as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me. As my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out and to come in. And now give me this mountain of which Jehovah spoke on that day. For you heard in that day how the giants were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. If Jehovah will be with me, then I will be able to drive them out, as Jehovah said. And Joshua blessed him, and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance. And Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb, the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite, to this day, because he fully followed Jehovah, the God of Israel. And the name of Hebron before was Kirjath-arba; that one was a great man among the giants. And the land had rest from war.

Caleb became the leader of the Israelites after Joshua died. Judges 1.

Where is Hebron?

Hebron is one of the oldest continuously occupied cities in the world. Located 20 miles south-southwest of Jerusalem, it is nestled in the southern Judean Hills in the Israeli occupied West Bank (Palestine). Its high elevation (3,050 feet above sea level) gives it a temperate climate; it is also blessed with an abundant water supply from wells and springs. Its fertile soil supports the production of apples, plums, figs, nut trees, grapes, melons, and various vegetables. In ancient times, the Ridge Road ("Patriarch's Highway") connected Hebron with Jerusalem and Shechem to the north and Beersheba to the southwest (now Route 60). It was here that Abraham buried Sarah in the Cave of Machpelah. This cave later became Abraham's burial place and still later, that of his descendants Isaac and Rebekah, and Jacob and Leah.

Excavations have proven that Hebron's history can be traced back before 3500 BC. Abraham's wife Sarah died at Kiriath Arba ("city of Arba"), the early name of Hebron, and he went there to morn over her. At the time, there was considerable unrest in the region. Living in the area were Amorites as well as at least one clan of Hittites. From Ephron, a Hittite chieftain, Abraham purchased a cave. Because Abraham took possession of the cave of Machpelah (Hebrew "double" or "portion") through a legal transaction rather than conquest, Hebron's Jewish settlers hold that the city is the perpetual property of the Jewish people by right of descendent from Abraham through his son Isaac. The same claim is made by Arabs who hold they are descendants of Abraham's other son, Ishmael. Joshua fought against a confederation of five Amorite kings, including "Hoham king of Hebron." (Joshua 10:3-14) The battle took place in the Valley of Aijalon between Jaffa and Bethel and miraculously "the sun stood still," prolonging the day to secure the Israelite victory. After Hebron was taken Caleb asked for it. In Joshua 20: 7 Hebron was named a city of refuge. Later still (about 1100 BC), the legendary hero Samson, the last of the major judges over Israel, tore out the city gates of Gaza and carried them "to the top of the hill that faces Hebron." (Judges 16:3) David lived in Hebron for 7 yrs and 6 months after King Saul died. David's rebelling son, Absalom, gathered his forces in Hebron and launched his revolt. After the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in 587 BC and carried off the Jews into exile, Idumeans (Edomites) from the Negev settled in Hebron. They held the town until Judas Maccabeus attacked and destroyed the city in 163 BC. In the 1st-century BC - Herod the Great (ruled 37-4 BC) rebuilt the town, sealed the Cave of Machpelah and erected the superb wall which still surrounds it.

Caleb's Faith

Our Pastor did a sermon on Caleb's faith today. He pointed out that God had given Caleb a picture of His plans for the Israelites and for Caleb himself. He allowed Caleb to participate in the promise for the Israelites, given to Abraham and re-confirmed to succeeding generations and He gave Caleb a promise too (to give him Hebron). And Caleb believed God and held on to that faith picture, those faith promises for 45 years until he was 85 years old and saw the Israelites move into and take over the Promised Land and he was given Hebron. He had faith that God would do what He said He would do and he waited on God to do it.

His faith was not passive but he walked in his faith, he took action based on what God had promised him. He told the Hebrews that they could take the land with God's help, he calmed them down after the bad report by the other spies. He spoke words of faith to them. It wasn't his fault that they didn't listen. Then, he had to go with them in their wanderings for 40 years but he, at 80 yrs old, was a warrior leader when they moved to take the Promised Land. He and his family helped the Israelites defeat the inhabitants of the Promised Land. He helped Joshua to divide up the land between the 12 Tribes. But all was done with God's Will in mind. He knew God made the promise to the Jews and to himself and he knew that he needed to follow after God's Will and participate in it.

Caleb followed God wholeheartedly, with his whole heart. He kept close to his duty, kept God's revealed Will, the faith picture and promise, close to his heart. His noble, brave heart was ready. As a 40 year old spy he had been assigned the area of Hebron to spy out and had seen the Anak (the giants) in the mountains around the city of Hebron. He had seen them himself. And yet, he had still come back encouraging the people to go in a possess the land. Now, 45 years later, he asked for the very land knowing it was the considered invincible due to the Anakim. And, yet, he wanted it so that God could demonstrate His power and inspire the others to go in and take their land. He was ready. He knew he was following God and where God is, is victory.

Despite having wandered with the other Israelites for 40 years in the Wilderness, he did not complain. "Woe is me! I did the right thing and all I got was the hardest place of all to take. Couldn't you have given me the easiest and best? What about all Your promises? I believed for 40 years and you give me the giants to conquer?" No, Caleb was strong and he believed in God and knew that what God gave him was what was best for Caleb. He knew that God had miraculously strengthened him. At 85 years of age he was still well and healthy despite all the perils of the desert and the judgements that had claimed the others. None of the adults that had left Egypt in the Exodus had survived except Joshua and Caleb. And he was not only alive and well but as strong as he was at 40 years old. He knew God's mercy had been supernaturally given to him.

Caleb was all heart and it was God's heart.

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