Heaven’s Heroes #2: Faithful Caleb
Text: Joshua 14:6-15
Introduction: This is the second on our series Heroes of Heaven. Which will take us through much of books of Joshua and Judges. Last week our first hero was Joshua. In Joshua kneeling before the captain of the Lord’s host we learned that power from God comes when we submit ourselves to God. This week we will learn of Caleb, who along with Joshua were the only two spies who came back to Moses after spying out the Promised Land and said, “We can take this land.”
Throughout the life of Caleb there is one great trait that we see exhibited over and over. Caleb is a hero of faith. That is a lesson that is greatly needed in our day. We are confronted with crises but lack the courage to step forward into the fight. We need heroes like Caleb, who by faith, claimed a mountain filled with giants then won that mountain.
Joke: One day when the Raiders were in Oakland, a reporter visited their locker room to talk to Ken Stabler. Stabler really wasn't known as an intellectual, but he was a good quarterback. This newspaperman read him some English prose:
"I would rather be ashes than dust.
I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than that it should be stifled by dry rot.
I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy, impermanent planet.
The proper function of man is to live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time."
After reading this to the quarterback, the reporter asked, "What does this mean to you?"
Stabler immediately replied, "Throw deep." - John Maxwell, Be all You Can Be (Victor, 1987), p. 132.
Now I don’t know what that reporter was hoping to hear when he asked such a strange question but I like the quaterback’s answer. To me what Ken Stabler was saying was, “Be bold and remember what you’re there for, throw the football.” As Christian that’s kind of what Caleb is going to tell us today, “Be courageous and have faith. That’s what you’re here for.”
The Key to Caleb’s Faith God Joshua 14:6-9
Then the children of Judah came unto Joshua in Gilgal: and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite said unto him, Thou knowest the thing that the LORD said unto Moses the man of God concerning me and thee in Kadeshbarnea. Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadeshbarnea to espy out the land; and I brought him word again as it was in mine heart. Nevertheless my brethren that went up with me made the heart of the people melt: but I wholly followed the LORD my God. And Moses sware on that day, saying, Surely the land whereon thy feet have trodden shall be thine inheritance, and thy children's forever, because thou hast wholly followed the LORD my God.
Caleb's faith begins with his obedience to God
First thing I see in Caleb’s request to Joshua is the key or the basis to his faith is his obedience to God and I see that obedience in three ways.
First, Caleb’s obedience was a full surrender to God
Joshua 14:8 I wholly followed the LORD my God
Caleb’s obedience was clear and visible to others
Joshua 14:9 Moses sware…thou hast wholly followed the LORD my God.
Caleb’s obedience was not hindered by obstacles. When they learned of the giants in the land, his response was…
Numbers 13:30 “Let us go up and possess it”
People of Faith are People of Obedience
In this case faith is a kind of Deductive Learning.
We move from the general to the specific, from general obedience that applies to all to specific acts of faith that only deal with us. We move from just living the Christian life to fighting in the battles and crises of our own life.
Scripture Romans 1:16-17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
Romans 1:17 tells us that the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith
Faith is a learning, growing part of our spiritual life, it begins in small acts of obedience then grows to great deeds of faith in the spiritual battles of our life.
Romans 10:17 Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God
Faith is based upon hearing God's word, and then acting upon what we hear.
The key to faith is simply choosing to be obedient to the commands of God, no matter the cost, risk or obstacles. You will never have great faith, never, until you first learn to be obedient.
Illustration: The Three Hebrew Children
Daniel 3:16-18 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
This was the first time they had been in a fiery furnace. But not the first time they had obeyed God. They could not know exactly what God would do, but they absolutely knew exactly what they would do. They would obey God!
Transition: So the key to faith, heroic faith is obedience, if we could count that as a lesson learned we could count today as a good day in the Lord’s house, but we can’t count it as a finished sermon, because I’ve got two more points. For the next one we have to go back to beginning of the Exodus when Caleb was a much younger man and first met Moses.
The Foundation of Caleb’s Faith Exodus 3:8
And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
Caleb’s Faith Was Based Upon God's Will
This passage is first heard by Moses during his experience at the burning bush. He had fled Egypt for killing a slave driver who was beating his kinsmen. It has been 40 years since he ran away. He is now 80 years old and God is commanding him to return to Egypt and tell Pharaoh to “Let my people go.”
This statement is Moses’ commission and when the Hebrews are told this is what Jehovah has said, this is the will of God, then it becomes the foundation of their faith. For Caleb, everything he will do from this point forward, is based upon what God had spoken through Moses.
This bring us to our next application about heroes and faith. …
People of Faith Know God's Will
You can’t have faith unless your faith is based upon God’s will.
Now God’s will is not vague or hard to comprehend. It is not an emotion feeling or a dream or a vision. Nor is God’s will determined by circumstances you encounter in your life. Let me go a little further and state that we are to pray for God’s will to be done but we are not instructed to prayer for God’s will to be revealed.
Not it is true that many people believe that God leads us by the signs, circumstance, open and closed doors of life or feelings and emotions.
But I think they are a little like the country boy who was out plowing on his daddy’s farm. He stopped in the middle of the field and was overheard praying, “Oh, Lord. This cotton field is big and so full of rocks, it’s hot , this ol’ tractor ain’t got no air-conditioned and I am so tired. Lord, I think I’ve been called to preach.”
Actually, God’s will is revealed in His Word.
Deut 29:29 The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.
Romans 16:26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:
Deut 30:11-14 For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.
So, what was God's will for Israel? Go, possess the land, conquer it and live there. That is what Caleb heard and that is what he did. That is what his faith was based upon.
Then what is God’s will for the Church? It is not any harder to know than what God told Moses.
Matthew 28:19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
It is simply “Go, make disciples, baptize, and teach.
What about God's will for me? Here is a quick list from 1 Timothy, that we can spend a lifetime trying to fulfill. (Ready for another sub-sermon? Here we go 4 S’s of God’s Will from the epistles to Timothy)
Be Saved 1 Tim 2:4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
Be Strong 2 Tim 1:7-11 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.
Be Separate 2 Tim 2:3-4 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
Be Studious 2 Tim 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
What we see is that God’s will is based upon God’s Word, when I know God’s Word, I know God’s Will and when I know God’s will I have a foundation for my faith. But God’s Word must be that foundation.
Illustration: Jesus Himself Holds the His Word as Paramount in our lives
When Jesus warned his followers about the end of this age in the book of Luke, this is what He told them to give them strength and comfort. Luke 21:33 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
Transition:So all that we have seen today in the life of Caleb so far is just words, but it is deeds that prove faith. As James (2:18) said, “…shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”
The Test of Caleb’s Faith Joshua 14:11-12
As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in. (that means I’m can start the fight and you better believe I can finish the fight.) Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the LORD spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakims were there, and that the cities were great and fenced: if so be the LORD will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the LORD said.
Caleb's Faith Was Tested on Mt Hebron
Because of His obedience, because he believed God’s Word Caleb had faith and that faith meant that he was as strong at the end of 40 years of fighting as he was when they began the journey into the wilderness.
Believe it or not, Caleb claimed the hardest possession in the land, Kirjatharba. That name literally means the city of Arba who was a giant. This city was his home and all his enormous family of enormous giants lived there. “Give me that giant mountain, with that giant city on top of it, filled with giants.”
The Bible says in Vs. 13-15 And Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh, Hebron for an inheritance. Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite unto this day, because that he wholly followed the LORD God of Israel. And the name of Hebron before was Kirjatharba; which Arba was a great man among the Anakims. And the land had rest from war.
This is the highest city in Palestine, this is the very place the spies looked at and said, “We are as grasshopper in their sight.” Caleb with his action said, “You got it wrong were not grasshoppers, we’re giant killers. Now give me that Mountain. I’ve got some giants to stomp.”
Years later in this same mountain, where Caleb conquered the giants, David who had killed the giant Goliath, would be crowned king of Judah and King of Israel. The city went from a fortress of enemy giants to the footstool of a conquering King, all because Caleb was a hero of faith.
Let me give you this last maxim for People of faith.
People of Faith Are Battle Tested
Faith is a spiritual muscle, a spiritual skill and like all muscles and skills, it must be put to use in order to become strong.
Paul says we need to understand, we are in a battle. Ephesians 6:12-13 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Jesus didn’t hide this truth, he also warns us of the battle. John 15:18-21 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me.
So it comes down to this question regarding our faith, what battles have I fought? And if I’ve fought then where are my battle scars?
Example: Playing football after the game we would compare helmets for the best hits. The guys with no scars and clean uniforms were the guys who sat the bench. (Often would see them rolling in the grass during warm-ups so they would at least have some dirt on their uniforms.)
I wonder when God looks at us does he look for our battle scars?
Illustration: Adoniram Judson’s Scars
Adoniram Judson, the renowned missionary to Burma, endured untold hardships trying to reach the lost for Christ. For 7 heartbreaking years he suffered hunger and privation. During this time he was thrown into Ava Prison, and for 17 months was subjected to almost incredible mistreatment. As a result, for the rest of his life he carried the ugly marks made by the chains and iron shackles which had cruelly bound him. Undaunted, upon his release he asked for permission to enter another province where he might resume preaching the Gospel. The godless ruler indignantly denied his request, saying "My people are not fools enough to listen to anything a missionary might SAY, but I fear they might be impressed by your SCARS and turn to your religion!"
What mountain should you be claiming in your Christian life? The mountain of fear, the mountain of worry, the mountain of indifference, the mountain of apathy, the mountain of ignorance, The mountain of a sinful habit?
What about the mountain of raising your children, the mountain of loving your spouse, the mountain of being a good parent?
There are mountains our church faces, our community and our nation face. We must remember, we claim those mountains through faith. Faith that begins with obedience, faith that is based on God's will, and faith that must be tested in battle.