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. 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. But my brothers who went up with me made the heart of the people melt; yet I wholly followed the Lord my God. 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.’ 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. 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. 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.”
Then Joshua blessed him, and he gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance. 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. Now the name of Hebron formerly was Kiriath-arba. (Arba was the greatest man among the Anakim.) And the land had rest from war. Joshua 14:6-15
Leona Helmsley was a billionaire real estate and hotel tycoon. When she died, she left $12 million to her beloved dog, a Maltese named Trouble. Known as the queen of mean, she bequeathed nothing to two of her four grandchildren, and instead left a trust fund to her dog. Trouble faced 20 to 30 death and kidnapping threats, and when she had to travel, she flew under an alias: Bubble.
Trouble was hand-fed crab cakes with cream cheese and steamed vegetables with chicken. Her security team cost $100,000 yearly, her grooming cost $8,000, and her medical expenses ranged from $2,500 to $18,000. Her caretaker received $60,000 per year.
While this story seems unbelievable to most of us, it correlates with our experience as believers: God had lavished so much on us when we have been nothing but trouble to Him. We’ve been given an incredible inheritance even though we are undeserving. Today we will look at the biblical inheritance story from Joshua 14.
As we’ve seen throughout this series of Joshua, there are three main themes:
1. God fulfills His promises.
2. In light of God’s faithfulness to fulfill His promises, we should be strong and courageous.
3. When we are strong and courageous, we step out in faith which initiates the work of God in our lives.
We left off last week with two and a half tribes (Gad, Reuben, and the half tribe of Manasseh) willing to settle in the land east of the Jordan River, in an area known as the plains of Moab. These tribes were short-sighted and lacked complete faith in God because they settled and did not want to cross over the Jordan into the Promised Land with the others.
Today, in stark contrast to the weak faith of the two and a half tribes, we will look at the strong and enduring faith of the man Caleb. This portion of Joshua focuses on the character of Caleb and breaks into three natural parts: Caleb remembers, Caleb requests, Caleb receives.
Caleb remembers the promise God made to him for an inheritance.
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. 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. But my brothers who went up with me made the heart of the people melt; yet I wholly followed the Lord my God. 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.’ Joshua 14:6-9
Caleb remembers the promise God made to him 45 years before at Kadesh Barnea. Caleb was one of the 12 spies sent by Moses to spy out the Promised Land. After spying out the land for 40 days, only Caleb and Joshua had enough faith to wholly follow God into the Promised Land. The other 10 spies lacked the necessary faith and their hearts melted in fear – they convinced the rest of Israel not to advance. As a result, the Hebrews sentenced themselves to four decades of wilderness dwelling.
And they told him, “We came to the land to which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. However, the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. And besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the Negeb. The Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the hill country. And the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and along the Jordan.” Numbers 13:27-29
If we fail to trust God wholeheartedly, we may very well live with the consequences of our sin for the rest of our life! This is a tragedy and it did not have to be that way. God had something better, but the Israelites refused to trust God and place their faith in His power and promises. There are some decisions that lead to a lifetime of consequences.
Similarly, there are people who attend church today and are surrounded by people of faith. They hear about the great things that God is doing in people’s lives, but yet they never get to a place where they put their own faith in the Lord Jesus for their salvation.
We also see the need for spiritual leaders to be strong in faith. The 10 spies were chosen for the task because they were leaders of their respective tribes – the people respected them, and they had great influence.
Then the Lord spoke to Moses saying, “Send out for yourself men so that they may spy out the land of Canaan, which I am going to give to the sons of Israel; you shall send a man from each of their fathers’ tribes, every one a leader among them.” Numbers 13:1-2
Caleb and Joshua, who stood in sharp contrast to the other spies and the people, came back with a good and encouraging report. They were men of faith, and did their best to convince the people to trust God and enter the land, but the rest were filled with disbelief.
And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes and said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, “The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.” Then the entire congregation said to stone them with stones. But the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the people of Israel. Numbers 14:6-10
Fear can consume faith and stop us from moving forward in life and wholly following Jesus. There are a lot of things to be afraid of in this world! Many times when I am traveling to third world countries I struggle with fear. I’m never exactly sure what I’m getting myself into, and I have to battle fear and grow in faith. It’s a slow, hard process. But I still go!
Following Jesus and being a disciple isn’t always safe – I like to say that Christianity is a contact sport. What in your life would stop you from following Jesus wholeheartedly?
Caleb requests his inheritance.
And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. 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. 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.” Joshua 14:10-12
Not only had God kept Caleb alive, He also gave him strength that defied logic. This was a testimony to the greatness of God. The average age was about 70 or 80 at the time, which we learn from a psalm attributed to Moses:
For all our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end like a sigh. The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. Psalm 90:9-10
Again, this is a testimony to God’s faithfulness keep His promises. How was it possible that Caleb was as strong at age 85 as he was at 40? This was only possible because God delivered on His promise. Caleb’s 85 years were hard years – he spent years living in the wilderness, not in a gated community with air conditioning.
In the U.S., we are soft as American Christians. Our big family crisis recently is that our refrigerator ice maker has stopped working! The discipleship lesson for us is to keep serving God and following Him – don’t let age stop you. One of my colleagues from Global Training Network is 75, and still goes into the jungles of Brazil. He came down with yellow fever last year, and it was very serious. When he recovered, he still said, “I’m all in!”
Are we all in for Jesus? What does that look like? All in means all the time, all my life. That was Caleb – he kept battling on the front lines and serving God, even at age 85! This is only possible through the help and power of the Holy Spirit.
Caleb receives his inheritance.
Then Joshua blessed him, and he gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance. 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. Now the name of Hebron formerly was Kiriath-arba. (Arba was the greatest man among the Anakim.) And the land had rest from war. Joshua 14:13-15
Caleb was blessed with physical land as his inheritance. He stayed faithful to God for decades and did not waver, but remained steadfast. He was rewarded for his enduring faith with a plot of land on a hill, which represented security, well-being, and peace. We too are blessed when God provides for our material needs, but our real blessings are not material but spiritual:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, Ephesians 1:3
Our blessing is through relationship, and we are blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. Like Caleb, we have to wait to receive our inheritance. We live in a right now society, and when we want something, we get it. People come to Christ for immediate satisfaction. Jesus Christ can and will meet your needs today, tomorrow, and forever, but ultimately the inheritance is yet to come.
In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14
Our inheritance is certain and secure in Christ:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5
The inheritance is imperishable, undefiled, unfading, kept, and guarded by God’s power. What should this truth produce in our lives? Confidence, joy, assurance, praise to God, and rest for our souls in this world.