The Spirit of Caleb

Posted on February 3, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Devotional Reflections

“But my servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it” (Numbers 14:24).

All of us have encountered the kinds of problems confronting the Children of Israel when they faced the challenge of taking possession of the promised land. Remember the report of the spies who had been sent in to scout out the land? It was, indeed, a prosperous land flowing with milk and honey, but they were overwhelmed by the task.

In Numbers 13:25-33 the spies shared their sense of intimidation by the large, fortified cities. They said they felt like grasshoppers up against people who were as giants. Moreover, the land was already occupied by all those pagan tribes who would have to be displaced–the Canaanites, Hittities, Amalekites, Jebusites, Amorites and others. Their conclusion–”We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us”–(Num. 13:31).

We often are overwhelmed by circumstances or a pending task. Having built a house in recent years we found it was not simply signing a contract and being handed the keys a few months later. There were endless decisions, the costs escalated with each adjustment to the original plans, misjudgments in floor tiles, window design and wall colors had to be corrected. At many points we questioned our wisdom with “what were we thinking?”

Students facing a new semester are handed a collection of assignments for multiple courses detailing reading, research papers, reports, tests and conclude, like the Israelites, this is more than I can handle; this is too much. One may be promoted to a new job level and find the elation of the status is offset by greater burdens of responsibility, even beyond one’s ability and experience. It is common to succumb to the attitude that the accumulation of life’s problems are just too much and live with a sense of despair.

But Joshua and Caleb were among that group of spies and brought a minority report. “We should by all means go up and take possession of (the land), for we shall surely overcome it” (Num. 13:30). What was the matter with them? Didn’t they see the giants and the fortified cities? Didn’t they realize the problem of having to defeat all those resident people groups? Yes, they saw the obstacles to the task, they realized their own inadequacy, they understood the challenge, but they viewed it through the eyes of God!

In fact, God explained their perspective in Numbers 14:24; He said, “My servant Caleb has a different spirit and followed Me fully.” Caleb and Joshua were committed to be obedient to what God told them to do no matter how unreasonable the task. They had said with others, “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go” (Joshua 1:16). They remembered every time God instructed them to take possession of the Promised Land He stated it in the past tense–”I have given the land unto you.” Victory was a foregone conclusion.

Their adequacy for the task was not due to their numbers, their strength or their being battle savvy. It was because of their faith in God. When facing a challenging task or feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities, we need the spirit of Caleb–a spirit of faith and a commitment to follow God fully.

2 Comments on “The Spirit of Caleb”

  1. Jeanne

    Dr. Rankin,
    What a word of encouragement this was to me today! Thank you! Praying you and Mrs. Bobbye are enjoying this season you are in!

  2. Mariah King

    Thanks so much for the post. I shared it with our 8 yr old Caleb. We are praying he will always be bold in his faith in God!

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