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Numbers 13:30, 14:69; Joshua 14:614comment (0)

June 1, 2006

By Kenneth B.E. Roxburgh

Related Scripture: Numbers 13:30, 14:69

Family Bible Study
Professor of Religion, Chair of Department of Religion, Samford University

Numbers 13:30, 14:6–9; Joshua 14:6–14

Meet Faith’s Challenge
(Num. 13:30; 14:6–9)

Faith is perhaps the most essential ingredient in the Christian life and the ministry of the Christian church. A humble, yet confident, trust in God gives the dynamism, the power, the creative force to Christian service in a secular society. Faith looks beyond the human predicaments and obstacles that each one of us encounters in our daily life. Faith explores the possibilities that God presents to us. Faith overcomes our human limitations to see the limitless power of God doing “far more that we ask, think or even imagine.” It was this kind of faith that Caleb expressed toward God.

Caleb was one of 12 men chosen from the 12 tribes who were sent in to spy out the land. The spies were respected by their peers, heads of the sons of Israel (Num. 13:3). They were to penetrate the country and assess the reality of the situation that would face the people of Israel as they entered the land of promise. For 40 days, they searched out the land, obtaining a clear and coherent picture of conditions, and in verses 26–33, we hear their report.

Their assessment of what was ahead was unanimous; it was a good and fruitful land, flowing with milk and honey. But difficulties lay ahead of them. The majority of the spies drew the conclusion that they would never succeed. Caleb was positive and optimistic.

Caleb was sure God would bless His people, if they would only stop doubting, reject an attitude of fear and dread and put their trust in His promises. To do anything else was to engage not only in unbelief but in rebellion.

Believe God’s Promise (Josh. 14:6–9)
The key to Caleb’s faith is found in the statement in verses 8 and 9. He followed the Lord with all his heart and he received the promise. Moses told Caleb that the land on which his foot had trodden would be an inheritance to him and to his children forever.

The story demonstrates that despite the difficulties that appear so insurmountable to the fulfilling of God’s promise, God is able to work in and through human beings to carry out His will. Yet faith is not unimportant but the key through which God has chosen to work. Faith, at these moments, may be filled with doubt and even cynicism, but faith is basically an expression of human helplessness that turns from itself to trust entirely upon God.

John Bunyan’s “The Pilgrim’s Progress” is a story about how a man called Christian makes his way “through many dangers, toils and snares” along the King’s Highway to the Celestial City. At one point along his way, Christian and his faithful companion, Hopeful, meet a giant called Giant Despair. He overcomes them and drives them to his home called Doubting Castle and throws them in a dark, stinking dungeon. That night was Saturday and at midnight, Christian and Hopeful began to pray and suddenly declare, “I have a Key in my bosom called Promise, that will, I am persuaded, open any Lock in Doubting Castle.” Through this allegory of the Christian life, Bunyan is reminding us that God has given us “great and precious promises” by which we live by faith and trust in His power to be with us in whatever situation we find ourselves.

Caleb was strong in faith, and therefore he was quite sure that God would make good His word. Full of distrust, the 10 spies who doubted infected the whole of the congregation with fear. But Caleb was neither dismayed by the power of the enemy nor influenced by the skepticism of his brethren.

Remain Loyal (Josh. 14:10–14)
Confident faith is not just the prerogative of youth. Caleb was 85 years old. He was as excited about being involved in God’s purposes in his later years as he was when he was younger.

Caleb knew that his success would be dependent upon the Lord equipping and sustaining him for the task. He was aware of his own limitations, but he trusted that God was powerful. Faith inspires resolution and courage.

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