Exploring New Territory–Lessons from Caleb

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Dear friend, if you are like me, you may be exploring some new territory of some sort in your life. The Bible story of exploring Canaan from Numbers 13 keeps coming to my heart. During this exploration, Caleb was set apart as a leader. What set Caleb apart?

The Lord had told Moses to pick a leader from each of the 12 tribes of Israel. Most were unknown except Caleb and Joshua. They were spies to “case the joint” to explore Canaan and bring back a report.  So Moses sent these 12 whippersnappers out through Negev, out to the hill country for 40 days to see what the land was like, what the people were like who lived there. Were they strong or weak? Were the towns walled? Was the soil fertile? Were there trees? They were even told to bring back some fruit if they could.

When the spies got to Canaan, they hit the jackpot. The grapes, pomegranates and figs were so huge, it took two MEN to carry a single cluster of grapes. At the end of 40 days they came back.

When the spies returned, 10 of them gave a negative report.

“It does flow with milk and honey. Here is the fruit. BUT, the people who live there are powerful and the cities are fortified and large.” –Numbers 13:27.  Such a negative perspective.

Here comes my favorite part:

“Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” –Numbers 13:30.

One sentence. One declaration of pure faith in God.

“BUT the men who had gone up with him said, ‘We can’t attack those people. They are stronger than we are.”–Numbers 13:31.

The louder voices of fear spread among the people. The Israelites then grumbled and actually wanted to go back to Egypt where they had been slaves. They even said they wanted to pick a leader to head back, basically overthrowing Moses’ authority.

Moses and Aaron fell face down and tore their clothes in humble, desperate dependence on God, interceding again for the people. The Lord forgave the Israelites and let them live. But because of their rebellion and disbelief, though, what should have been an 11 day journey into Canaan, the Promised Land, took 40 years of wandering.

The Lord told Moses: “…No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it. But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to.”–Numbers 14:24

Out of 3 million + original Israelites who started the journey, Caleb and Joshua–not even Moses–were the only ones to go into the land of Canaan 40 years later. Wow!

So what can we leadership lessons can we learn from Caleb?

1) Trust God that He is stronger than any giant. What are the giants in our lives? Fear? Opposition? What/who do we fear? Like Caleb believed, God is stronger for us to defeat any giant in our path. Do it scared. Also trust each other. Have each other’s backs.

2) Be positive and have faith. There were 10 LOUD pessimists and only two optimists. Like the ten, we can put difficulties between us and God and say we are not able or like the two, we can put God between the difficulties and ourselves and say we are able! One commentator said, “To the other 10 spies, the problems seem bigger than God.  When a person like Caleb acknowledges the power of God, he or she will not minimize the divine resources available.”

3) Your voice counts. Even if you, like Caleb, are the only God-led voice that differs from the others, your voice is needed and appreciated.

4) Be courageous—it took courage for Caleb to stand up as the first voice. When we talk about courage and standing up, we often refer to the Ephesians 6 Armor of God. Remember that every part of that armor faces the front. God wants us to face our issues, face our problems head on, not run away from them. Have courage.

Just a little personal aside: If you could read my prayer journal, you’d see the insecurity I have faced this past year and a half as the Lord called me to Proverbs 31 Ministries and to live in the new amazing Canaan of Charlotte, NC. We at Proverbs 31 Ministries are also exploring new territory as we work toward the God-sized vision to eradicate Biblical poverty.

This message is really for me, so I appreciate you reading it also. 🙂

Like Caleb, I want to serve God my wholeheartedly and trust Him. May we be encouraged by the lessons of Caleb as we explore the new territories of our lives, sweet friend.  We can certainly do it.

Reflect:

–What new territories are you facing?

–How can you be more like Caleb? Please comment.

Renew:

–“Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared: The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion.” –Numbers 14:17

–“For the upright will live in the land, and the blameless will remain in it.” –Proverbs 2:21

-Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” –Ephesians 6:10-11.

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