Caleb in the Bible, A “Different Spirit”
If there was ever a character that displayed a right attitude or “different spirit” toward God and His Word, it would have to be Caleb in the Bible. For a few moments of time, let’s look at the story of Caleb and use him as an example of fortitude and courage (Romans 15:4).
Caleb, a Bible Example of Courage
Caleb’s courage was first displayed after his return from his spy mission into the Promised Land. He was willing to take a stand with God when the crowd was more than willing to oppose God’s will. As we recall, ten of the spies returned with “bad news”. They stated that taking the land was beyond their ability (Numbers 13:31). Joshua and Caleb reported just the opposite. In fact Caleb, “quieted the people before Moses“, and said, “Let us go up at once, and occupy it; for we are well able to overcome it” (Numbers 13:30 – ESV). He also said, “If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us” (Numbers 14:8). Caleb was simply trying to motivate the people to go up and possess the land which God had promised (Genesis 17:8). They in turn desired to kill him (Numbers 14:10). Think about it! These people would rather have killed Caleb than listen to his words of exhortation. Like Caleb, we as faithful followers of God must be prepared to face adversity when we stand for the truth of God’s word. There are those who will oppose us with every fiber of their being before they will submit to God’s will. Do we possess the courage of Caleb? Will we stand with God even if means standing alone?
Understanding Caleb’s Character
The “key” to our understanding of Caleb’s character is found in Numbers 14:24 in the phrase, “different spirit” (ESV). We too must possess a “different” spirit in order to be pleasing to God. Many in the Lord’s church must come to grips with the fact that we are not like everyone else. Standing for the truth will not be popular with those of the world (John 15:19; John 17:14; 1 John 3:13). Too many Christians are more concerned about “what everyone else thinks” than “what God thinks”.
Due to no fault of his own, Caleb was forced to wander in the wilderness for forty years. He suffered because of the faithlessness of the children of Israel. The steadfastness of Caleb’s commitment to God during these troubling (and wasted) years is a great testament to the character of the man. it is indeed difficult to stay the course when others bring undeserved heartache and problems to us. Through all this, Caleb never blamed God but simply trusted God and waited for the day when he would be allowed to cross over to the Promised Land.
Caleb’s life illustrates for us that there is “no retirement plan” in doing the Lord’s work. At the ripe old age of eighty-five (many years past normal “retirement”, Caleb returns to the borders of what would soon be the land of the people of God. When the Lord’s challenge was offered to him in his old age, this stalwart of God gladly accepted it (cf. Joshua 14:12). Even in his twilight years, Caleb still possessed a “different spirit” (Numbers 14:24 – ESV) – a spirit of following God “fully”. He didn’t complain or shirk the task at hand. For forty years, he dreamed of a day when he and God would drive out the heathen of the land. Our older members can take a lesson from this courageous warrior – there is “no retirement” from the Lord’s army!
Caleb inherited what God had promised because his faith never wavered (Joshua 14:14). While his world changed dramatically following the people’s refusal to go into the land, Caleb never faltered in his confidence in God’s ability to fulfill what He had promised (Numbers 14:24,30; Joshua 14:6-12). Because of his great faith, Caleb was blessed (Joshua 14:13-14)!
Conclusion to the Story of Caleb
Because of Caleb’s great example of courage and his display of a “different spirit” before God, may we as God’s children take courage and become stronger in doing the Lord’s will in our own lives (Matthew 7:21).