Today’s reading: Joshua 12-15.
Caleb is no ordinary eighty-five year old. When most men would be slowing down and seeking comfort, he is gearing up for battle. Caleb had been clinging to a promise for forty-five years, the promise that one day he and Joshua would receive the land that they had spied out in the early days of Israel’s wilderness journey.
“Now then, just as the LORD promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the desert. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.” Joshua 14:10-12
Matthew Henry says of Caleb, “those who live by faith value that which is given by God’s promise, far above what is given by his providence only.” In an earlier post I spoke of providence as God’s foreseeing care and guidance for his creatures. God’s providence consists of the circumstances he gives us. These circumstances, along with God’s word, the counsel of fellow believers, and the leading of the Holy Spirit are instrumental in determining God’s will. But how much more clear is God’s will for Caleb as shown by his promise!
I see God’s providence directing Caleb to become an Israelite. Though he was a Kenizzite, descended from Esau, he was adopted into the tribe of Judah. God’s hand led him to represent Judah among the twelve spies that went into the Promised Land. On that mission he first saw and walked through the land he would one day inherit. By providence God kept Caleb alive through the long wilderness journey, giving him strength and vigor into his final years. Moses providentially appointed Caleb as one of the twelve men who would decide how to divide the land among the twelve tribes.
But I see God’s promise to Caleb putting a fire in his belly so that he not only survives but thrives. I see God’s promise motivating Caleb to seek out that post on the council that divided the land. As the Israelite hordes turn west into Canaan Caleb’s eyes are always to the south where Kiriath Arba lies (now called Hebron). As soon as opportunity allows he goes to Joshua and makes a request for this special part of the land. Never mind that it is full of giants – it is the land personally promised to Caleb.
Providence is a huge unknown, and new each day. But the promises of God are for now and always. If I have a promise from God, I can bank on it. I can plan on it. I can build the future around it. Therefore, seek out God’s promises. The Bible is full of them. One that has always encouraged me is 2 Timothy 1:7:
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Image by brungrrl on Flickr, CC by-nc-sa 2.0