By Todd Pekel


Caleb's strength has not only gained my admiration, but has through his example opened my eyes to a greater understanding concerning our walk with God. You know, one needn’t search too hard to find admirable people in the Bible. The obedience and meekness of a Moses, the valor and pure-heartedness of a David, or the courage and eloquence of an apostle Paul make them favorites among those of us who read of their lives and exploits even centuries later.

Numbers 13:1-6:
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Send thou men, that they may search the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel: of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a ruler among them.
3 And Moses by the commandment of the LORD sent them from the wilderness of Paran: all those men were heads of the children of Israel.
4 And these were their names: of the tribe of Reuben, Shammua the son of Zaccur.
5 Of the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat the son of Hori.
6 Of the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephun-neh.

We first learn of Caleb as being one of the men that Moses sent to spy out the Promised Land. It’s important to note that Moses didn’t chose these men haphazardly, but rather, “by the commandment of the Lord.” Moreover, these rulers in their respective tribes were given a job to do.

vv. 17-20a:
And Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said unto them, Get you up this way southward, and go up into the mountain:
18 And see the land, what it is; and the people that dwelleth therein, whether they be strong or weak, few or many;
19 And what the land is that they dwell in, whether it be good or bad; and what cities they be that they dwell in, whether in tents, or in strong holds;
20 And what the land is, whether it be fat or lean, whether there be wood therein, or not. And be ye of good courage, and bring of the fruit of the land....

Their assignment seems simple enough. They were to go and see the land and bring back a report concerning the cities, their inhabitants and whether the land was fat or lean. Upon their return to Moses and the children of Israel, they brought back proof of the fatness of the land.

vv. 23-25:
And they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff; and they brought of the pomegranates, and of the figs.
24 The place was called the brook Eshcol, because of the cluster of grapes which the children of Israel cut down from thence.
25 And they returned from searching of the land after forty days.

Now it appears that a favorable report is to follow, especially after bringing back such convincing evidence of the fatness of the land.

vv. 26-27:
26 And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word unto them, and unto all the congregation, and shewed them the fruit of the land.
27 And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it.

“Surely it floweth with milk and honey,” are the words they use echoing the words God used to describe the land that He had promised to their fathers. Their report, however, is not concluded.

v. 28:
Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there.

Now their fear and lack of faith is revealed. These men saw the inhabitants and cities in their own strength. “The people be strong... the cities are walled and very great... we saw the children of Anak there.” Surely, Caleb must have seen the walled cities and the children of Anak, yet his message is quite different from those that went with him to spy out the land.

v. 30:
And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.

“Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it,” are the words Caleb said to Moses and the children of Israel.

vv. 31-33:
But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.
32 And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature.
33 And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.

These men brought up an evil report of the land. They said it was “a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof.” Moreover, they said, “the people are stronger than we ... men of great stature ... giants ... we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in theirs.” These men only saw the giants and the walled cities. They forgot that God was on their side. Their report was based on their own strength.

Numbers 14:1-4:
And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night.
2 And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!
3 And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt?
4 And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.

Those people (whose strength is their own) have no choice but to return to bondage and the land of Egypt... the very thing they had been delivered from!

vv. 6-9:
And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes:
7 And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land.
8 If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey.
9 Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not.

Do you see it? Caleb’s strength was not his own. Caleb was strong in the Lord. “If the Lord delight in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it us.” The Lord said of Caleb that he “hath followed me fully.” Therefore, Caleb received a promise from the Lord.

v. 24:
But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.

The children of Israel also receive a promise from the Lord. A promise as sure and true as the one Caleb received.

vv. 22-23:
Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice;
23 Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it:

Now, forty plus years later, after the promises of God were fulfilled concerning those that provoked Him, the children of Judah come to Joshua who is dividing the land among all the children of Israel.

Joshua 14:6:
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 Kadesh-barnea.

Caleb reminds Joshua of the events that had occurred forty-five years earlier.

vv. 7-9:
Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh-barnea to espy out the land; and I brought him word again as it was in mine heart.
8 Nevertheless my brethren that went up with me made the heart of the people melt: but I wholly followed the LORD my God.
9 And Moses sware on that day, saying, Surely the land whereon thy feet have trodden shall be thine inheritance, and thy children’s for ever, because thou hast wholly followed the LORD my God.

Again, Caleb’s strength in the Lord can be seen.

vv. 10-11:
And now, behold, the LORD hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years, even since the LORD spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old.
11 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.

What a tremendous statement! As his strength was then, said Caleb, “even so is my strength now.” Remember that these words are coming from the lips of an eighty-five year old man! Now, no eighty-five year old is going to have the strength of a forty-year-old. But Caleb’s strength was not his own, Caleb was strong in the Lord!

v. 12:
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 inheritance was among the giants, the sons of Anak. The cities were great and fenced and yet this eighty-five year old man knew the secret to his success or failure. “If so be the Lord will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out... AS THE LORD SAID!

Joshua 14:13-14:
And Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh Hebron for an inheritance.
14 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.

Now what do you suppose happened when Caleb went to possess the land?

Judges 1:20:
And they gave Hebron unto Caleb, as Moses said: and he expelled thence the three sons of Anak.

Let us learn, as Caleb well knew, where our strength needs to be. Let those who endeavor to wholly follow the Lord our God be as strong as Caleb by making the Lord our strength. May we also say, “as my strength was then, even so is it now, for war, both to go out, and to come in.”

Ephesians 6:10:
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.



From the August 2002 issue of The Vine & Branches