God intended for His people to enter the Promised Land only a short time after leaving the bondage of Egypt. They spent about a year in building the Tabernacle, receiving the Law, and organizing their new country. Then Moses, the great leader, sent twelve men, one from each tribe, to survey the Promised Land. They were to bring back a report on how to best advance.
After forty days of spying the land, the spies returned with two very different perspectives. Ten saw the walls of the cities as too high to scale and the people as too powerful to conquer. Only two looked through eyes of faith and saw God as more than able and fruit worth every sacrifice.
One of these faith-filled men was Joshua. His name means “Jehovah saves”, and the Lord used him to eventually lead the nation of Israel into victory.
The other faithful spy was Caleb. The phrase “wholly followed the Lord” appears six times in the Bible—all six refer to this amazing man. He was the only other person in his peer group to believe God. However, due to the unbelief of the majority, Caleb had to endure forty years of wandering in the wilderness until his entire generation died off.
Can you imagine the crushing disappointment Caleb felt when he realized that he was not going to enter the Promised Land for forty more years? It wasn’t his faith that failed, yet he had to experience some of the consequences that resulted from others’ unbelief.
How did he continue to follow? He did not allow himself to be frustrated by looking around at others’ failures, or fearful by looking ahead at a bleak future. He simply pushed past the disappointment by looking to the Lord his God.
He then claimed his rightful inheritance by faith. He had a promise from God through Moses—and he believed it. For forty-five long years he held on to the promise with a bulldog grip.
Finally, the day came when he knew it was time for action. He seized the opportunity. In verse 11 of chapter 14 of Joshua, Caleb said, “I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me…for war, both to go out, and come in. Now, therefore, give me this mountain, whereof the Lord spake in that day.” He was eighty-five years old.
Caleb didn’t expect any free handouts. Through discipline and tenacity, he had maintained his strength for the coming battle. He realized Joshua’s God-given authority and once again asked for permission to pursue the promise God had given. With Joshua’s blessing, Caleb claimed it.
There aren’t many details of the battle. It simply says he asked for the best and most difficult possession, the beautiful, fruitful mountain of Hebron that held the giant Anakims in great, fenced cities. And then he stated, “If so be the Lord will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the LORD said.”
I hear the humility of complete dependence on God. I imagine a tenacious warrior with a long white beard and a gleaming sword running fearlessly toward the enemy. With God on His side, they didn’t stand a chance!
Hebron means “fellowship with God”. This is the best and most fruitful place in the world. The giants of laziness, greed, and lust would paralyze us in complacency and carnality. The fenced cities of generational sins, bitterness, or fear would make us flee to the dry, barren wilderness of defeat.
But if we would “wholly follow the Lord”, we must push past disappointments and claim God’s promise by faith. We must persist and maintain strength—even when the wait is longer than we expected.
Then, when opportunity comes, and God will make sure it does, seize it with humility. The world has yet to see what God can do with one man who will “wholly follow Him”.