Caleb, son of Jephunneh, of the tribe of Judah, was a man of great faith. After spying out the land of Canaan with the other eleven spies, he returned confident that the Israelites could solve the problem of conquering the land of Canaan. In spite of the ten who vehemently disagreed with him and Joshua, Caleb said to Moses, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it” (Numbers 13:30). He was confident that the Israelites, with God’s help, were up to the challenge. When God pronounced judgment on Israel for their lack of faith, He says of Caleb, “I will give the land on which he has trodden, because he has wholly followed the LORD!” (Deuteronomy 1:36). On the eve of his death, Moses speaks to the children of Israel about the challenges that lay before them in conquering the land of Canaan; he tells the people of God, “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6).
When the day came for the children of Israel to occupy the land, Caleb, now 85 years old, comes to claim his inheritance–Kirjath-Arba (Hebron)—a mountainous region 3,040 ft. above sea-level; he says to Joshua, “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 14:11-12).
What a great man Caleb was who, in spite of his age, wanted the hill country because he knew with God’s help he would be victorious. Others had seen the land as an insurmountable obstacle, but Caleb asked for this difficult land, wholly trusting in God and the power of His promises. Joshua echoes Moses’ entreaty as they prepare for the conquest of Canaan, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
Great men of faith like Caleb do not see mountains as impossible barriers. When Caleb saw the hill country, he saw a challenge he could meet with the help of the Lord. He had an exultant kind of confidence, not from arrogance, but from a deep-seated faith that God would be his source of strength and help.
When problems arise in our daily lives, when the mountains of life erupt in front of us, we can let them overwhelm us with fear, frustration and despair, in the same way the ten spies let the strength of their enemies overwhelm and intimidate them; or we, like Caleb, can see them as opportunities to put our full confidence in God to see us through them. James tells us to “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” (James 1:2-3). Paul tells his Philippian brethren, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (4:6-7). In 1 John 5, the writer concludes “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us” (v. 14).
We can be encouraged by Paul’s confident claim that we can go to God in prayer and experience a peace that “surpasses all understanding”. We can be assured that if we ask according to His will, He will hear our prayers. And we can derive a great sense of confidence from the words of Joshua, “Be strong and courageous! Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua1:9). Paul writes in Romans 8:31, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” With these odds, who would not be able to remain undaunted in the face of seemingly impossible challenges?
Christians today can learn a great lesson from Caleb and his deep faith and confidence in God. We can have the same great confidence to take on our own personal “hill country” and to boldly proclaim “we are well able to overcome” because through Christ we have the strength to “do all things” (Philippians 4:13). Peace and joy come with knowing that God is with us always and that with His help and strength we will face no obstacle too great. We can also find great assurance in the following words of Jeremiah for there is no greater comfort than knowing we have the favor and protection of the Lord. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).
-Pamela Martin, TBC online student