Caleb: What It Means to Whole-Heartedly Follow the Lord 6/7/98

Joshua 14:1-15

JESUS CHRIST said, “If any man desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matt 16:24).

Following the Lord isn’t always easy, but it is always right. The Bible is filled with stories of
courageous people who were willing to do God’s will against all odds. Are you?

One such man emerged on the pages of Hebrew history at a crisis time. He stood as a minority in a moment when the mentality was “Thus saith the majority.” Would anyone dare to speak out and declare, “Thus saith the Lord?”

It was a hot day in the wilderness of Paran as the people awaited an important report. We know it was a hot day because all days in Paran are hot. Moses had sent twelve spies into the prospective Promised Land. The fact they returned was good, but the news they brought was bad. Hear their report:
“We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there … (Resume reading verses 31 – 33)” [Numbers 13: 27,28 & 31 – 33].

The land’s bounty is described by the terms “milk and honey.” “Milk” means there were many domesticated farm animals in the land. “Honey” translates the word “dibbs.” It actually is a dehydrated paste made from grape juice. The term meant there were many vineyards in the land.

Notice the response of the people Numbers 14: 1.

Caleb and his friend Joshua were the two among the twelve spies that dared to venture according to the promise of God. He was not deterred and responded — Numbers 14: 6 – 9.

Surely such courage will be applauded. Not so, notes Numbers 14: 10a, “…stone them with stones.”

Surely Caleb did not read the mood of the crowd. He knew such a bold declaration would be met with disdain. No, he didn’t misread the crowd. Neither did he misunderstand the will of the Father. The reason for him confronting the crowd in order to comply with the Lord is found in one description given him on six different occasions: Numbers 14:24; 32:11,12; Deut. 1:36; Josh. 14:8,9 & 14. In each of these verses it is said Caleb “wholly” followed the Lord. He was committed to the Lord with his whole heart.

There are many believers who are truly Christ’s who are not wholly His. Christ is undeniably their Savior, but not undisputedly their Sovereign. He is present in their lives but not President of their lives.

He was like the missionary of a more modern era who died a youthful death serving among the American Indians. The following entry was found in David Brainard’s diary the day of his untimely death: “No reserve, no retreat, no regret.”

God said, “Possess the land.” Caleb said, “Forward hooooo.”
His response was based on:
-Confidence in God’s character and capacity.
-Commitment from a servant’s heart.

These two principles are summed up in God’s description of Caleb, “My servant Caleb…has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully” (Numbers 14: 24).

His exhortation did not prevail. The people protested and complained. God therefore declared that none of these people, including Moses, would enter the Promised Land. Only Joshua and Caleb among all the people would be allowed to enter the land (Numbers 14: 24). Caleb was 40 years old at the time he received this promise of the Lord.

Israel as a nation was pardoned and remained the people of God, but that “wilderness generation,” by their sin of rebellion forfeited their primary blessing. That generation was destined for “second-best.” By their sins they had placed limitations on themselves. They still saw many blessings of God in the wilderness but never entered the land of promise.

Forty-five years lapsed before the promise to Caleb was fulfilled. God always keeps His word and his time is always right.

Caleb’s spirit and servant temperament was revealed in the land of promise. Othniel had aided Caleb in defeating the giants in the land. Caleb gave him his daughter, Achsah, in marriage. As an inheritance they received the dry lands of the Negeb. Achsah asked her father for a source of water (Joshua 15: 13 – 19). This was the most valuable commodity in the land. In a loving manner like that which God had shown him, Caleb gave them the upper and lower springs to make their barren land productive. He is a role model for those of us who know we should always give our best.

Scripture passages related to Caleb reveal – – –

There were three witnesses of the fact Caleb followed the Lord. Our faithfulness has three similar witnesses.

A. Caleb himself. “I wholly followed the Lord my God” (Joshua 14: 8). This was no idle boast, it was a sincere testimony. He knew he had been faithful and he knew God knew he had been faithful. Can you give such a testimony?
B. Others testified of his faithfulness. Moses said, ‘Surely the land where you foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children’s forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord” (Joshua 14:9).
C. The Lord was the third witness. God Himself said, “My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it” (Numbers 14: 24).

Caleb lived with a standard of appraisal worthy of all of us. It is summed up in his expression: “If the Lord delight in us” (Numbers 14:8). He wanted to please God at all times.

There are three testimonies indicating what motivates a whole-hearted follower to be obedient.

A. Glorification. Only a life wholly committed to Christ glorifies Him. Peter was God’s New Testament agent of exhortation when he wrote: “He who called you is holy, you also be holy in your conduct, because as it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy'” (I Peter 1: 15, 16).
B. Edification. A whole-hearted Christian is a positive witness for our Lord. A half- hearted follower is a negative witness. Such lifestyles have retarded the gospel.
C. Sanctification. Sanctification means set aside and designated for a specific use. True sanctification is evidenced by wholly following the Lord.

Caleb manifested characteristics becoming of a child of God.

No Anakim distresses the person who has a sense of God’s presence and the associated discernment.

Three traits characterize a person who wholly follows the Lord.
A. Concentration. To follow Him whole-heartedly means to concentrate all you have to Him. This calls for total allegiance.
B. Completeness. This calls for regularity and an uncompromising will to serve Him.
C. Constancy. Many persons run hot and cold. This confuses the non-believer and bewilders the faithful believer. It means to have a non-compromising mind set and heartfelt commitment.

Caleb was able to “wholly” follow the Lord because he had “another Spirit in him” (Numbers 14: 24). In John 14: 16,17 Jesus said He was sending us “another Comforter,” the Holy Spirit. He indwells and infills us as He did Caleb.

Hebron was promised to Caleb because of his faithfulness. It was 45 years before it was actually his. There are “Hebrons” promised those who follow the Lord. These spiritual blessings are actually ours under covenant promises of God. However, they truly become ours only when we demonstrate consistently in serving Him whole- heartedly. Let us like Caleb work diligently while waiting patiently for our Hebron. Such a wait is as much of a blessing as the possession when it too is a gift of God.

We like to assert our right to “whatsoever you shall ask,” while failing to realize it is entirely conditioned on God’s “whatsoever I command you.”

Are you willing to do “whatsoever” He commands you wholeheartedly?