Living Wholeheartedly

Living Wholeheartedly

 

 

In the book of Numbers, we meet a man named Caleb.

Numbers chapter 13 recounts the fateful story of the twelve spies that God instructs Moses to send in to explore the land of Canaan, which God had promised to the Israelites. Keep in mind that the Israelites have been rescued from slavery in Egypt and God has given them sign after sign and miracle after miracle as he has rescued them from their oppressors and has brought them to the crux of the inheritance that they have been promised (the land of Canaan).

The twelve men who are chosen were young men who were leaders in their tribes (the twelve ancestral tribes). The names and tribes of each man can be found in Numbers 13:4-15. Among these twelve were Caleb, son of Jephunneh of the tribe of Judah and Hoshea, son of Num of the tribe of Ephraim. (Hoshea was given the name Joshua by Moses. Nu. 13:16). These two men are important to note because as the story unfolds, it is these two young men who prove to be the only men of this bunch who are faithful in their belief in the Lord and his ability to deliver them into the promised land.

The job of our twelve spies was simple: recon. As any good leader preparing for battle, Moses was sending in a few men to scout the land so that they could be as informed as possible about the conditions they were preparing to go to war under.

 

See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many. What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad? What kind of towns do they live in? Are they unwalled or fortified? How is the soil? Is it fertile or poor? Are there trees in it or not? Do your best to bring back some of the fruit of the land. (Nu. 13:18-20)

 

With their job clearly laid out for them, the twelve spies set off on their mission to scope out the promised land. What they find is a “land flowing with milk and honey”. It is a land so plentiful that the fruit they bring back (a single cluster of grapes) is large enough that it must be carried on a pole between two of the men!

It must have been ridiculously exciting for the Israelites to hear such news! Fresh from a lifetime of slavery and abuse at the hand of the Pharaoh and the long, hard and life- harrowing trek across the desert. They are now staring freedom in a fertile land of plenty right in the face! One would expect to sit and listen to these twelve spies excitedly recount the splendor of it all in anticipation of finally claiming it as the inheritance God has promised them. The spies give a much different account, however.

As the men stand before Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community they tell a story of a land full of powerful people (giants even) living in well fortified cities. They paint a picture of a dream and a future full of possibility and blessing squashed by an insurmountable force. They claim that the land is an impossibility and they discourage the people from any further hope of possessing it.

As all of this is being said, Caleb stands up and interjects, saying;

 

“We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” (Num. 13:30)

 

I am sure Caleb and Joshua were just as taken back as the rest of the twelve spies were of the giants they would have to face and the walls they would have to get past. They were certainly facing some pretty overwhelming obstacles! The difference is that Caleb and Joshua were not so quick to forget the plagues that the Lord had brought upon Pharaoh back in Egypt that led to their release or the parting of the Red Sea that allowed the Israelites to safely flee from Pharaoh’s army. They remembered the way the Lord had provided for and protected them as they crossed the desert to get to this point.

In Numbers chapter 14 we read about the reaction of the people of Israel to the news that is presented to them by the spies.

 

That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”

 

A pattern that is to be repeated throughout the story of the Israelites in the pages of the Bible is one of a loss of faith. Where Caleb and Joshua have not allowed themselves to forget the faithfulness of their God, the people of Israel have done just that. In the face of what are surely impossibilities and insurmountable obstacles, they forget that they have the King of Kings, the Conqueror, the God of the universe to whom nothing is impossible on their side!

 

Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.”

 

Caleb and Joshua chose to focus on the power and faithfulness of a mighty God who had showed them again and again that he would care for and protect his people and that he would honor his promises. This land before them was one of God’s promises to his people. Caleb and Joshua knew that God was on their side and because of that, no obstacle was impossible to overcome.

 

10 But the whole assembly talked about stoning them. Then the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the Israelites. 11 The Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them?”

 

God subjects the Israelites to wander the desert and denies them the fulfillment of the promised land because of their lack of faith. He vows that everyone of them will perish in the desert except for Joshua and Caleb. The two of them alone would join the next generation (who would be led by Joshua) into the promised land.

 

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_I, however followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly._

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Cut to forty-five years later.
Joshua has faithfully led the Israelites into the promised land and God has, in the span of seven years of war and a string of miracles, delivered the land of Canaan unto his people (Joshua 1-11). As the conquered land is divided up among the tribes, the story of Caleb comes full circle;

 

Now the people of Judah approached Joshua at Gilgal, and Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know what the Lord said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, but my fellow Israelites who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt in fear. I, however, followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly. So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly.’

10 “Now then, just as the Lord promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the wilderness. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! 11 I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. 12 Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.”

13 Then Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave him Hebron as his inheritance. 14 So Hebron has belonged to Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite ever since, because he followed the Lord, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly.

 

Caleb not only saw the promised land, but was given the prime piece of real estate within it. The very land that he has scoped out with his fellow spies forty-five years earlier. A land flowing with milk and honey and fertile to the point of producing fruit that had to be carried between two men was now his. It was the land that he had trusted God to give to him and his people in fulfillment of the inheritance he had promised them. Those forty years in the desert killed off his entire generation but Caleb not only survived it, he thrived. His faith kept him young and strong. Caleb lived with a freedom from fear as his heart was full only of hope and a solid belief that God is a God of his word. Because of that hope and that belief, Caleb lived a life of blessing and at eighty-five years old he not only possessed the land he had once spied out, he took to those mountains and conquered the very giants that kept the previous generation from the land. The truth is, Caleb conquered those giants forty-five years earlier when he chose to put his faith in the promise of an almighty God.

 

“The secret of Caleb’s life is found in a phrase that is repeated six times in scripture: (Josh 14:14; Num. 14:24; 32:12; Deut. 1:36; Josh 14:8-9)

 HE WHOLEHEARTEDLY FOLLOWED THE LORD.

Caleb was an overcomer because he had faith in the lord. (Warren W. Wiersbe, BE Strong Commentary)

 

There is no doubt that our lives are often full of impossibilities and obstacles that are utterly insurmountable. It is easy to feel stuck. It is easy to crumble to our knees with our face in our hands as we mourn the things we can not overcome. I have spent a good deal of the last ten years of my own life in this very position as I have cried out to the Lord for reprieve from what is an overwhelming and impossible obstacle I have had to deal with. I have more often than not fallen under the weight of it and found it easier to wallow in my own helplessness, feeling sorry for myself and the unfairness of my circumstances.

J. Vernon McGee tells a story about a man who, when asked what his favorite bible verse was replies, “it came to pass”. When asked what he meant he said;

 

“When I get into trouble and problems pile up, I turn to my verse and I know that my troubles have not come to stay: they have come to pass.”

 

I love that!

The lesson we can take from the story of Caleb is this:

Be encouraged in your journey! If you have accepted Christ as your Savior, you have already received your inheritance in Christ and can claim victory over this life. Keep looking up because the best is yet to come.

 

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

 

The pastor at my church often says, “if it ain’t good, God ain’t done.” There is freedom in living a life without fear, wholeheartedly seeking the Lord and his direction in our lives. Learning to trust that God is a God of his word and remembering that he promises us a hope and a future is the very thing that will set us in the camp of Caleb as opposed to a life spent wandering in the desert of our own making. As Martin Luther said, “One with God is a majority”. God is bigger than our giants and he has big plans for us. He has big plans for you, and he has promised to give you a hope and a future. Let us strive to live wholeheartedly for the day we come into that promise.

 

I hope you are having a wonderful week so far and that you are embracing the life you have been blessed with (trials and all) wholeheartedly as you seek to embrace the unique beauty that God is fashioning in your heart. Because YOU ARE truly beautiful!

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CHALLENGE:

I am sure you have at least heard the name Lauren Daigle in passing recently. She is a fairly new artist that has taken Christian music by storm. She is quite incredible.

Lauren’s album includes a beautiful song called, “Trust In You”. Below are the lyrics to the song and a link to the video. This week, I would challenge you to print these lyrics and listen to the song as you focus on the words and the message. Turn the lyrics into a prayer for your own life as you strive to gain a new perspective on the obstacles you may be struggling to overcome.

trust in you video

Watch the video

“Trust In You”
by Lauren Daigle

Letting go of every single dream
I lay each one down at Your feet
Every moment of my wandering
Never changes what You seeI’ve tried to win this war I confess
My hands are weary I need Your rest
Mighty Warrior, King of the fight
No matter what I face, You’re by my side

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

Truth is, You know what tomorrow brings
There’s not a day ahead You have not seen
So, in all things be my life and breath
I want what You want Lord and nothing less

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

You are my strength and comfort
You are my steady hand
You are my firm foundation; the rock on which I stand

Your ways are always higher
Your plans are always good
There’s not a place where I’ll go, You’ve not already stood

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

I will trust in You!
I will trust in You!
I will trust in You!