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Shavua Tov

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  • Daniel Botkin

JOSHUA AND CALEB: Men of Destiny and Determination

Joshua and Caleb are two Bible characters who really inspire me. These were two men who were willing to stand against the tide. They insisted that Yahweh could give them victory when everyone else insisted it was impossible.

For readers who may not be familiar with the story, here is a brief summary. When it was God's appointed time for Israel to invade Canaan, Moses sent Joshua and Caleb and ten other spies to spy out the land. After forty days the spies returned and told the Israelites that it was indeed a land that flowed with milk and honey. They even brought back some of the fruit of Canaan--pomegranates, figs, and a cluster of grapes so large that it took two men to carry it between them on a staff.

A land that flowed with milk and honey, the spies said. But, they said, it was also a land inhabited by giants who lived inside great walled cities. "We're no match for them," said ten of the twelve spies.

Caleb stilled the people and tried to convince them to go up at once and possess the land. "We are well able to overcome it," Caleb said. Caleb and Joshua tried to persuade the people that God would give them victory. "If Yahweh delights in us, then He will bring us into this land, and give it to us," they reasoned.

But their reasoning fell on deaf ears. The congregation was about ready to stone Joshua and Caleb, and God was about ready to wipe out the entire nation and raise up a brand new nation from Moses.

Fortunately, Moses interceded on behalf of Israel, and God let Israel live. But that entire generation, except for Joshua and Caleb, would die in the wilderness and never set foot in the Promised Land. Because of their unbelief, they would wander in the wilderness for forty years--a year for each day the spies were in the land--until everyone twenty years old and up had died. Then their children's generation would enter in.

God's testimony of Joshua and Caleb was that they had another spirit and wholly followed Yahweh. What made Joshua and Caleb different from their peers? What were the reasons they wholly followed Yahweh?

You might answer, "Faith and courage!" That's true, but why did they have more faith and courage than their peers?

I don't know the reason Caleb had so much faith and courage, but it might have been partly due to the fact that Caleb was apparently not a native-born Israelite but a Kenezite, a non-Israelite who joined himself to the people of Israel and to the God of Israel. Oftentimes converts to a faith are more zealous than people who are born and raised in that faith and take it for granted. We cannot say for certain, but it's very possible this might be one reason Caleb had so much faith and courage.

The reason Joshua had so much faith and courage is probably due to the fact that he apparently spent a lot of time in the presence of Yahweh. How do we know this? In Exodus 33 Moses pitched a tent outside the camp. It was inside this tent where "Yahweh spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend" (Ex. 33:11a). Sometimes when we read this, the thrill of this statement is so glorious that we overlook the significance of the rest of the verse: "And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle" (Ex. 33:11b).

Here we see Joshua as a young man remaining inside this tent, shut up alone with God in this tent where Yahweh spoke to Moses face to face. I suspect some of the afterglow of Moses' encounters with God was absorbed by young Joshua, and transformed him.

I believe that being alone in the presence of God gave Joshua a sense of destiny and the determination he needed to fulfill that destiny. I also firmly believe that if we will spend time alone with God in our prayer closet, we will get a sense of destiny and the determination we need to fulfill our destiny. Yeshua said that if we enter into our prayer closet, shut the door, and pray to our Father in secret, then our Father will openly reward us. (Matt. 6:6).

Joshua's and Caleb's faith and confidence was not in themselves. "If Yahweh delight in us, then He will bring us into this land," they said. Their faith and confidence was in the One who had taken them out of Egypt in order to bring them into the land of Canaan. If God brought them out of Egypt for this purpose, then surely God was more than able to equip them and empower them to take the Land. If need be, God could do miracles for them as He had done in Egypt.

We should have the same attitude. If God sent His son to redeem us by His death, then surely God is more than able to equip us and empower us to overcome temptation and walk in holiness and victory by the infilling and indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

If you, like Joshua, spend time shut up alone with the Lord, you will soak up the glory of God and be transformed by the renewing of your mind. The thoughts of your mind and even your thinking process will be transformed. You will begin to think more in harmony with God's thoughts and ways; you will discover that your priorities are shifting and coming in line with God's priorities; you will be filled with a sense of destiny; you will become more and more determined to make whatever sacrifices you need to make to fulfill your destiny. You will have the faith and courage you need to do the things God has called you to do.

Joshua and Caleb were determined to enter Canaan and take the Land. And they did it. They had to wait forty years because of the unbelief of their peers, but they did it. Even though there was a forty-year delay, God preserved their strength. There is a story I love in the Book of Joshua. Joshua and Caleb are in Canaan dividing up the Land. Caleb comes to Joshua and reminds him of what happened forty-five years earlier, when God promised them the Land because they wholly followed Yahweh.

"And now, behold," Caleb said, "Yahweh hath kept me alive, as He said, these forty and five years, even since Yahweh 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. As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out and to come in. Now therefore give me this mountain" (Josh. 14:10-12).

In Psalm 103:5, one of God's benefits is that God will satisfy you so that "thy youth is renewed like the eagle's." Centuries before David wrote these words, Caleb experienced this very thing. He was as strong at 85 years old as he had been at 40. Imagine this 85-year-old geezer with the strength of a 40-year-old man saying to Joshua, "Give me this mountain! I'm strong enough to take it!"

For most people, 40 plus 45 equals 85. But for Caleb, 40 plus 45 equals 40.

God had a plan for Joshua and Caleb, and He has a plan for you. You may be called to a leadership role or to a non-leadership role. You may be called to earn your wages by doing ministry work or by working at a regular job. You may be called to go to a foreign land or to stay in your native country. You may be called to fame or to obscurity.

If you do not know God's plan for you, get alone with God, get a sense of destiny, and ask Him for the faith and courage you need to do His will. Then ask Him to reveal the details to you one step at a time as you need to know them. Don't draw back from your destiny, because "if any man draw back," the Lord says, "My soul shall have no pleasure in him" (Heb. 10:38).

When people try to avoid God's calling, sometimes God gives them a second chance. Jonah tried to run from his call to Ninevah, and God gave Jonah a second chance. But Joshua and Caleb's generation got no second chance, even though they asked for a second chance the very next morning. They even admitted they had sinned. In effect they said, "We were wrong. Joshua and Caleb were right. We'll go up and take the land."

But Moses told them it was too late. "Go not up, for Yahweh is not among you," Moses said, "that ye be not smitten before your enemies" (Num. 14:42). They had already had their chance and they blew it, Moses said.

They ignored Moses' warning and "presumed to go up" and were smitten by their enemies, just like Moses said.

Some opportunities are now-or-never, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Be determined, like Joshua and Caleb, that by the grace of God you will be and do whatever God wants you to be and do.

I believe this is what the Apostle Paul had in mind when he wrote, "I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Messiah Yeshua" (Ph'p 3:12). Paul knew that when he was apprehended by the Messiah on the road to Damascus, it was for a reason beyond just his own personal salvation. Paul was determined to apprehend that reason, to lay hold of him. If I may take the liberty to give a DBV paraphrase of this verse, here is how I would put Paul's statement in modern English: "I pursue the fulfillment of my destiny."

Pursue the fulfillment of your destiny. Find out what God wants you to be and do, then pursue it, whether God is calling you to a leadership or a non-leadership role, to full-time ministry work or to a regular job, to a foreign land or to your own country, to fame or to obscurity.

| DB



Image: Joshua Commanding the Sun and Moon by Daniel Botkin from his Monochromatic Monotheistic Gallery on his website:

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