Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” –Numbers 13:30
There were twelve men sent by Moses to scout the Promised Land. When they came back to the Israelites to report what they had seen, these men brought with them fruit; one of which was a single cluster of grapes that was so enormous that it had to be carried on a pole between two men. If the people of Israel needed proof that the land was flowing with milk and honey, they saw the fruit as evidence!
However, according to the ten spies, there was a big problem confronting them: there were giants already living in Canaan. While the ten highlighted the presence of strong, evil giants in their report, their fellow spy, Caleb, saw the whole scenario differently.
The ten scouts exclaimed, “We seemed like grasshoppers!” and “We can’t attack those people!” But Caleb disagreed. He valiantly declared that the Israelites could take the land from the Canaanites. In fact, he saw the Israelites as THE giants of the land to be feared when he said, “We will swallow them up!”
What gave Caleb the boldness he had? The perspective that he had? There are clues to answer this question. Let us look at the words that both he and Joshua uttered when they gave their assessment of Canaan: “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us, Do not be afraid of them” (Num. 14:7b-9).
Clue to Boldness #1: The Lord’s Favor and Presence
Caleb knew that the Lord was with them. He had seen God powerfully reduce the greatest civilization of that time, Egypt, into a humble nation so that Israel could be freed from captivity. He had seen God divide the Red Sea so that Israel could cross safety, while Egypt’s armies were swept away by the same waters. He had seen God provide quail and water for the Israelites in the desert. He saw the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. He knew Israel had God’s favor and presence—there was no doubt about it. Caleb could trust God. Since God was with them, and since God could do all these things in their favor, then God could surely give the land of Canaan to them.
Clue to Boldness #2: The Lord’s Hand of Victory and Generosity
Caleb’s words were a declaration of faith deeply rooted in the belief that the battle for the Promised Land was not merely a battle between men’s armies or a battle of human size. No, it was the Lord’s battle to fight. There was a certainty in Caleb that at the helm of Israel was the Lord himself. God held the keys to victory. He could give them the upper hand in battle.
It is interesting that Caleb knew a simple truth: the LORD’s presence was enough for the win. For Him, the equation was simple: The protection of the giants was gone. God was with the Israelites. There was nothing to fear. Could the Israelites trust God and obey the Lord’s command?
Clue to Boldness #3: With Obedience Came Protection
Caleb’s words held a warning to his fellow Israelites: “Only do not rebel against the Lord.” Just as Caleb had seen the wonderful and powerful deeds of the Lord, he had also seen what could happen to Israel when they rebelled. He had seen a plague hit Israel because of their complaints against God for food. He had seen Miriam disciplined. He had seen fire from the Lord consume people because of their complaints and incessant grumbling of wanting to go back to Egypt. He knew that Israel’s God was one who could both protect and discipline them.
Unfortunately, the Israelites closed their ears to what Caleb and Joshua were saying. Their unbelief was not just a reflection of their uncertainty or of fear; it was also a lack of reverence for the Lord, or as the Bible would describe it, their “contempt” for the Lord. By complaining and grumbling, it was like saying, “Never mind who God is and what God could do in our lives!” Their eyes were concerned with the limitations of themselves and their past, and not with the love, character, and power of the Lord in taking them to their future. We have a glimpse of God’s feelings regarding this when He said, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them?” (Numbers 14:11)
The Israelites were not aware that there was another type of “spying” of the land that was occurring at that very moment—a divine spying. For from among the Israelites, the Almighty God was searching or “spying out” the hearts of men. Who among them had faith? God saw Caleb’s heart. He described Caleb as having “a different spirit and [one who] follows me wholeheartedly” (Num. 14:24). From among his generation of Israelites, only Caleb and Joshua were allowed to enter the Promised Land. The others perished in the wilderness.
As we go through life, it is good to ask ourselves if we, too, have a different spirit. Do we follow God wholeheartedly? Do we regard Him with reverence? Or do we complain and rebel against Him like the Israelites? We each have our own separate journeys of life that will take us into the battlefield of giants. It is part of the training God gives so that we can become HIS giants of faith. As soldiers in the Lord’s army, He trains us to be conquerors in battle.
The example of Caleb should excite us as we wield both sword and shield in the battlefield of life. As the Lord searches our hearts, let us embrace the truth that the Presence of the Almighty is with us; that His favor is with us; that He has decreed victory for us and is generous toward us; and that His hand of protection is on our lives when we obey Him. With Him, our spirits can rise in faith. Victory is guaranteed
FIrst published at saved.ph.
Janina Marie Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of One Voice Magazine, a teacher of world literature, and a student of the Bible. She enjoys reflecting on life’s curve balls and plateaus. She resides in the Philippines, the country known for people who smile a lot.