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Friday, January 24, 2014

Are You Looking at the Giants or the Mountain?

Joshua 14:6-15 (ESV)
6 Then the people of Judah came to Joshua at Gilgal. And Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know what the Lord said to Moses the man of God in Kadesh-barnea concerning you and me. 7 I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought him word again as it was in my heart. 8 But my brothers who went up with me made the heart of the people melt; yet I wholly followed the Lord my God. 9 And Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden shall be an inheritance for you and your children forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord my God.’ 10 And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, just as he said, these forty-five years since the time that the Lord spoke this word to Moses, while Israel walked in the wilderness. And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. 11 I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming. 12 So now give me this hill country of which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there, with great fortified cities. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the Lord said.” 13 Then Joshua blessed him, and he gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance. 14 Therefore Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholly followed the Lord, the God of Israel. 15 Now the name of Hebron formerly was Kiriath-arba. (Arba was the greatest man among the Anakim.) And the land had rest from war.

A lot of people like to think of themselves as realists. They see the negative things and make their decisions based upon them. They are pessimists who support their assessments with facts. Their lives are no more than what they can see.

Some people are true optimists. They believe something good is going to happen regardless of the facts. Realists call these people foolish. The realists are often right.

There is another group of people who defy both definitions. These people see the goal ahead and determine that they will overcome the difficulties in reaching that goal. They see the hardships but do not believe they are insurmountable. They have an inner strength to break the forces which prevent them from reaching what they desire.

All of these champions have faith though not necessarily in God. They may believe in themselves and their abilities. They may believe in fate. They may believe in an outside force which enable them to get what they want. They may even be foolishly lucky.

So, which of these is Caleb the Kenizzite who asks Joshua to give him a certain mountain as his inheritance?

He was a man of faith. He wasn't an Israelite and, therefore, wasn't born into his faith. No one really is. Each person must choose for himself. Faith is more than a story of salvation. It is a story of life. It goes beyond initially believing through all the struggles and accomplishments of life. It listens to God, believes in God and does what God seeks.

He was a man of God. He believed God was able to make him an overcomer of all that stood before him. He saw the giants in the land but wasn't afraid of them because he knew who had his back.

He was unnatural. Most people are retired at eighty-five. Most are retired because that is what society has told them they must be. They stop moving very much and, therefore, stop moving altogether. Caleb was still strong because he didn't want to stop. He didn't simply live off the retirement system of the day (offspring). He was still the man he was at a much earlier stage.

He was bold. We have no record that anyone else was asking for the mountain Caleb requested. I am sure that others wanted something a whole lot easier. Caleb wanted this mountain to prove that God would continue to fulfill His promise to give them the land. He wanted the mountain because it was hard.

So, Caleb was looking at the mountain. Yes, he knew the giants were there but he didn't see them as unconquerable. Driving them out would be a testimony to God's promise.

Church should be filled with people of faith but it often isn't. I am always hearing people tell me what they can't do rather than what God is telling them to do. They tell me that they are too old to go back to school or that the economy is looking so bad that they can't go forward in their businesses or that their marriages are doomed because their spouses just aren't fulfilling their needs or . . . you get the point.

They are looking at the giants without ever seeing the mountain.

I, on the other hand, want to see the mountain.


Anthony Chia said...

It is a good piece, Ps Prentis. Only I will put these comments of mine:

1. Caleb is the same Caleb who spied the Land in the first place, and so, Caleb was from the Tribe of Judah (Joshua 14:6). Caleb was the son of Jephunneh. Why was he also said to be a son of Kenaz (and so, also a Kennizzite)? Rabbinical literature has it that Kenaz was Caleb's step-father; Othniel was Caleb's half-brother. Othniel parentage is clear cut - son of Kenaz (Judges 1:13). Therefore, Caleb was an Israelite. In those days, this was important; today, it may not be, the people of God, corporately has become a new creation, Jews and Gentiles constituting a new composite whole (Eph 2:11-22). You are right, that salvation is a choice, one has to choose.

2. I would rather put it as Caleb was supernatural than unnatural! Perceiving, looking and doing beyond the natural is better referred to as going beyond the natural or supernatural. It is not we cannot use unnatural, but unnatural often gives negative impression, like having sex with animals is unnatural. We say it is quite supernatural of Tom Sietas to have held his breath under water for 22 minutes 22 seconds, a new World Record. In any case, it is more appropriate to say to people to be supernatural than to be unnatural!

3. Right, don't go to "shut down" mode too early. I exhort strongly Word-grounded pastors to still serve through the internet. It is the one thing that is quite achievable even when your physical stamina has ebbed or your mobility has come to be limited, and it will do a lot of good. By doing so, you are still feeding and encouraging, and spreading the Gospel. You are still in your calling, although your audience may be different. You are a shepherd, you are always a shepherd; any wandering and wondering sheep in the world connected through the internet, if he/she is willing to pay attention to your writings, you are shepherding him/her. Then there is the multiplier effect, the ripple on, into the non-internet world, through those ministered by you through the net.

As heralds of God, we must take our proper place on the net, or this mountain will be occupied by the enemy, and you know who. We need good words on the net. Writing on the faith on the net is as serious a business, if not more, as preaching over the pulpit in a local church, for your audience can cut across land and time! I take it boldly and courageously, but humbly depending on Him, giving of my time, energy and opportunity costs. I have gained much, NOT money, NOT financial wealth, but a wealth of knowledge and understanding of God and His ways, as I painstakingly dish out His words.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

Prentis McGoldrick said...

I didn't actually look up Caleb's lineage. I took that from Herbert Lockyer's All the Men of the Bible. Lockyer evidently doesn't see that Caleb had to be from Judah.
Also, the Holman Bible Dictionary sees that he was from Kenaz rather than the son of Kenaz. It refers to Genesis 15:19 as a place and a people rather than a person. The Kenizzites were not Israelites. It isn't the main point anyway but there is certainly a lot of evidence which would point toward Caleb not being an Israelite by birth.