by Ellen Foell, Legal Counsel
Twelve tribes. Twelve leaders.
Each of these twelve men had the same mission, the same destination. The destination was the Promised Land. The mission was straight from God through Moses: Scout out the land of Canaan.
We know the story. How many came back? How many had a negative report? Ten. How many came back with a good report? Two. Remember, all twelve were Israelites who had seen the same power of God, heroically leading them out of the land of Egypt and miraculously parting the Red Sea for the entire nation to walk across dry land.
Each of these leaders were adventurers—explorers, daring to go where no Israelite had gone before. But only two came back with a good report.
Now, let's think about those two. Two men, two characters, two temperaments, two callings, two destinies. One destination, one God.
We know plenty about Joshua...the man even has a book named after him. Joshua was the understudy for Moses before eventually replacing him as the leader of God's chosen people. He used to stay at the entrance to the tent of meeting even after Moses had gone to bed.
With Moses kept outside Canaan, it was Joshua who led the people on the last leg of the journey into the Promised Land. He led the march around Jericho. Joshua charged and challenged the people with perhaps the most popular wall hanging in Christian homes today: "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:15)
Then there was "The Other Guy." What was his name again? Caleb. What do we know about Caleb? Not a whole lot. Other than as his Hebrew name suggests, he was wholehearted. He followed the Lord wholeheartedly.
Caleb, along with Joshua, had journeyed into the same Promised Land with the other spies, had seen the same things, and came back with a report that, along with Joshua's, differed so much from that of the 10 that his life was spared. Along with Joshua, Israel's second in command, Caleb had been brave and had to swim against the tide.
Now imagine: When Joshua received his accolades from the Israelites, he did not stand up and say (or at least it is not recorded): "I want to thank everyone who made this possible, especially my friend and companion, a man of great and wholehearted faith, Caleb the Kenizzite." (A roar of applause rises in the background)." No, no accolades. No book. No quotable quote hanging on my kitchen wall 3,000 years later.
Caleb was the other guy. But, what a guy.
The boldness of being the 'other guy'
Caleb, as far as we know, was about 80 years old when he walked into the Promised Land. After seven years of fighting the Canaanites, Jebusites, Amalekites and other-ites, Caleb boldly walked up to Joshua and asked for the inheritance, the destiny that was his. Then, he took it. He received all that he asked for. That interaction is recorded in Joshua 14:7-14, which underscores Caleb's wholeheartedness and vigor in serving the Lord.
Hebron has belonged to Caleb ever since (Joshua14:14). Caleb's destiny was secure. He was able to take that same hill country he had seen over 40 years earlier.
He was strong. He was patient. He waited more than 40 years to get his hill country. He persevered. He never lost sight of the vision or the promise. He trusted God. He did not try to accomplish God's will on his own. He was a man of conviction. He was not self-reliant; he knew he needed the Lord's help. He had a specific place he wanted: The hill country.
Caleb was not a namby-pamby guy who would take leftovers. He had a place in mind within the destination of God, and he asked for it. He respected authority. He went to Joshua and reminded him of the promises of God in the midst of Joshua parceling out all the land, and simply asked for what was rightfully his.
Caleb was not a jealous guy—at least there is nothing to indicate he was. He watched Joshua follow Moses into the tent of meeting. He watched Joshua take the place as leader of the Israelites. He watched as Joshua led. What kind of leader was this? A wholehearted leader who never lost his vision for his destiny or God's destination.
Caleb took the promises of God, not as a deserved reward, but as an opportunity to exercise faith and claim new victories. Caleb was in his 80s, yet he asked for the hardest place of all, a place where giants were entrenched and where the fierce Anakim still guarded the cities (v.12). He did not ask for an easy place where he could spend his remaining years in peace and quietness. He still wanted to do something for the Lord, and for those who would come after him.
You will notice, that although Caleb thanked God for his vigor and strength, he did not depend on his own strength. Instead, he confessed his need of God's help and demonstrated a faith firmly grounded in God's promise, not on his own strength, nor that of his fellow Israelites. Though Israel had disappointed him 40-plus years before, Caleb did not complain when he had to continue wandering in the wilderness with his countrymen.
Learning from the 'other guy'
What can we learn from the other guy? Not everyone is a Joshua. Not everyone is in the limelight. Not everyone has a biography that thousands read. God will not, and does not, reprimand, chastise us, or judge us for that. Sometimes, the best leaders are those faithful folks who lead behind the scenes, daily exercising faith, declaring their testimony, and pressing on to claim what God has for them.
Sometimes we don't understand why disappointments come our way, often through no fault of our own. But we must remember that new opportunities can still come our way if we hold steady in faith and keep on walking with the Lord. Caleb watched his fellow leader and servant, Joshua, succeed, lead, fight, and win battles, while he himself did not grow weary of doing good.
He did not grow jealous or competitive. He did not grow disrespectful, he respected the authority and anointing of God in Joshua.
We must all, like Caleb "wholly follow the lord." Let us not seek honor or reputation from our fellow man. It is enough to do with all our hearts whatever God gives us to do, and give all the glory to Jesus. Then we will some day hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant."
What about you? Are you a Joshua? Leading seven times around the city, charging into Jericho, dispensing justice, and lands, slaying giants? Or are you a Caleb, the other guy? The other one? Faithfully, mightily, justly, humbly, patiently and wholeheartedly following God, into your destiny?
Whether a "Caleb" or a "Joshua," let us be found wholeheartedly loving and serving Jesus.