Now he gave to Caleb the son of Jephunneh a portion among the sons of Judah, according to the command of the LORD to Joshua, namely, Kiriath-arba, Arba being the father of Anak (that is, Hebron). Caleb drove out from there the three sons of Anak: Sheshai and Ahiman and Talmai, the children of Anak. Then he went up from there against the inhabitants of Debir; now the name of Debir formerly was Kiriath- sepher. And Caleb said, “The one who attacks Kiriath-sepher and captures it, I will give him Achsah my daughter as a wife.” Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, captured it; so he gave him Achsah his daughter as a wife. It came about that when she came to him, she persuaded him to ask her father for a field. So she alighted from the donkey, and Caleb said to her, “What do you want?” Then she said, “Give me a blessing; since you have given me the land of the Negev, give me also springs of water.” So he gave her the upper springs and the lower springs. Joshua 15:13-19
In Chapter 14, Caleb went to Joshua when they were at Gilgal, the base camp. Caleb reminded Joshua of his faithfulness and asked for his inheritance, a portion of the land which was promised by Moses. In Chapter 15, Caleb receives his portion because of his faithfulness. He was one of the original 12 spies who went to the Promised Land. Only Caleb and Joshua saw the land and all that God had promised and said, “Let’s go!” The other 10 spies were discouraged by the giants and the fortified cities, and they disobeyed God. The people rose up against Caleb and Joshua, and as a result, they wandered the wilderness for the next 40 years.
Caleb was willing to step out in faith, enter the land, and fight the battles of God – he was not afraid of the challenge of faith. Chapter 15 is the actual division of land. Caleb was not a tribe yet he was given a portion along with the tribe of Judah. The land was divided between the 12 tribes; only Joshua and Caleb also received specific portions of land as individuals.
Why were Caleb and Joshua given land? Because of their faithfulness – they were the only spies who looked at the giants but trusted that God would give them the land. 45 years later, the giants were still in the land and the cities were still fortified, and Caleb is back to do the very thing that he said Israel should do.
Caleb was given his portion because God had promised him an inheritance. Because of this promise, Caleb had faith and continued to believe and act on that belief. This is called perseverance, persisting while in the midst of struggle. This is difficult for many of us today, and our disposable culture doesn’t honor perseverance. In general, our culture moves through relationships when it’s convenient, and marriages often end under the banner of irreconcilable differences. But perseverance is very much a biblical concept when it comes to our salvation and living out our faith. When Jesus explained the parable of the four soils, He talked about perseverance:
“But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance. Luke 8:15
Seed in the good soil takes root, grows, and produces fruit. Seed in good soil will not be choked out by weeds, distracted by the call of comfort, or withered by the sun, but will grow healthy in spite of the difficulties because its roots of faith grow deep. When we persevere, we demonstrate faithfulness:
And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; Romans 5:3-4
Persistence in tribulation is perseverance. Paul is saying that when we persevere, we experience hope. If we quit there is no hope, but when we persevere it keeps hope alive, and hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts.
For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4
Paul writes to Timothy:
Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you. 1 Timothy 4:16
Here Paul exhorts Timothy to persevere in “these things” to ensure salvation for himself and others. For Timothy, they included the public reading of the Word, exhortation, and teaching. To live out faith takes perseverance; it requires walking in faith and being faithful even through the difficult times.
Caleb lived a life of faith. He stood against the crowd and tried to convince the people to trust God and enter into the Promised Land, but he was rejected. So Caleb wandered with Israel for 40 years while still believing the promises of God, and then he fought for another five years. Caleb was a man of hope and at 85, he was still trusting in God. As a result of Caleb’s faithfulness and perseverance, he was able to see the faithfulness of God in his life and others were able to see the faithfulness of God in his life.
God was glorified from Caleb’s faithfulness and perseverance. This morning we’ll look at what we can learn from Caleb’s life. Caleb was given his portion of the land, but he still had to drive out the Anak, the giants that Israel refused to drive out 45 years before.
1. There are no shortcuts to spiritual growth and maturity. God was creating a holy nation or sanctifying His people, a picture of our spiritual growth and sanctification. The conquering of Canaan is like the process of God driving the sin and flesh from our hearts to sanctify us. There are some battles that are more obvious, and others are deeply rooted sins in our hearts that are difficult battles to fight. These deep roots are often messy and affect others, and so we don’t want to deal with them.
But these difficult battles do not just go away. What is your Anak? What has God called you to root out of your heart? Are we just hanging on and barely surviving, or are we experiencing abundant life? Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). The Bible tells us to circumcise our hearts:
“So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer. Deuteronomy 10:16
“Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live. Deuteronomy 30:6
There are no shortcuts to spiritual growth and sanctification.
2. Faithfulness is not measured in a day or a week but in seasons, and perseverance is essential. Noah persevered for 120 years building the ark. Israel was in captivity for 400 years. David was anointed King but had to wait for years for it to come to pass, and in the interim, he was pursued by King Saul. When Saul became Paul, no one wanted anything to do with him. The Pharisees saw him as a traitor and a blasphemer, and the Christians did not trust him. He was exiled from the church for many years. Perseverance takes time, and faithfulness is measured in seasons.
3. Caleb did not quit – he finished the job. Scripture tells us that Caleb drove out the three sons of Anak and then went on to Debir. The point was not to just do the minimum, but to create a place set apart for his clan for God to work. God wants our hearts in totality, not just the bare minimum. As we talked about last week, sanctification is a lifelong process that will not be completely finished until we are in His presence.
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18
4. Faithfulness in one develops faithfulness in others. Caleb wanted someone full of faith to marry his daughter. He was seeking the best possible man for her, a man who would be willing to go and conquer a city. His nephew Othniel rose up and conquered the city, and won the hand of Caleb’s daughter. Othniel continued on in faith, and 10 years later, was asked to deliver Israel from captivity:
The sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asheroth. Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, so that He sold them into the hands of Cushan king of Mesopotamia; and the sons of Israel served Cushan eight years. When the sons of Israel cried to the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer for the sons of Israel to deliver them, Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother. The Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel. When he went out to war, the LORD gave Cushan king of Mesopotamia into his hand, so that he prevailed over Cushan. Then the land had rest forty years. And Othniel the son of Kenaz died. Judges 3:7-11
Faithfulness is a call for all of us. Parents are called to demonstrate a life of faith and build faith in their children. Husbands and wives are called to be filled with faith to move their spouses into deeper walks with Jesus. Singles are called to be faithful in God’s calling for the sake of the kingdom. And as we demonstrate faithfulness, it becomes a catalyst for others.
In The Autobiography of George Muller, we read the prayers of a man who cared for more than 10,000 orphans in his lifetime:
“The children are dressed and ready for school. But there is no food for them to eat,” the housemother of the orphanage informed George Mueller. George asked her to take the 300 children into the dining room and have them sit at the tables. He thanked God for the food and waited. George knew God would provide food for the children as he always did. Within minutes, a baker knocked on the door. “Mr. Mueller,” he said, “last night I could not sleep. Somehow I knew that you would need bread this morning. I got up and baked three batches for you. I will bring it in.”
Soon, there was another knock at the door. It was the milkman. His cart had broken down in front of the orphanage. The milk would spoil by the time the wheel was fixed. He asked George if he could use some free milk. George smiled as the milkman brought in ten large cans of milk. It was just enough for the 300 thirsty children. -The Autobiography of George Muller
George Muller lived a life of faith and persevered through difficult times, but he’s someone just like us. God is calling us to a life of faithful perseverance and to hold on to His promises.
Not one of the good promises which the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass. Joshua 21:45