Caleb: One Who 'Wholly Followed The Lord'
Caleb is one of my favorite characters in the Bible. He was of the tribe of Judah and the son of Jephunneh. We first read of Caleb in Numbers 13:6, where he is listed as one of the twelve men who were selected to spy out the land of Canaan. When the spies returned to the congregation of Israel after spying out the land for forty days, it was Caleb who "quieted the people before Moses, and said, 'Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it'" (Num. 13:30). However, the other spies (with the exception of Joshua the son of Nun) delivered an "evil" report that discouraged the children of Israel, causing them to cry out, weep, and murmur against Moses.

When the Israelites consorted to appoint a new leader for themselves and return to Egypt, Caleb stood up for the Lord along with Moses, Aaron, and Joshua, as the congregation of Israel desired to stone the four men. Because of the infectious unfaithfulness of ten individuals, the children of Israel would be required by the Lord to wander the wilderness for 40 years--one year for each day the spies surveyed the land. It would be during this period of wandering in the wilderness that those who were at least 20 years old would be condemned to die, never seeing the promise land. The ten unfaithful spies died by a plague from the Lord, but Caleb and Joshua lived and would be allowed to enter the promised land of Canaan (Num. 14:30,36-38). Note what the Lord says about Caleb in Numbers 14:24: "But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it."

From that point, up to the claiming of the promised land, Caleb (as well as Joshua) is mentioned numerous times as one who was spared and would be allowed to enter Canaan because of his faithfulness and because he "wholly followed the Lord". For instance, in Numbers 26:64,65 when the Israelites were numbered in the plains of Moab, Caleb and Joshua are once again mentioned as the only men alive of those who were numbered in the wilderness of Sinai.

In Numbers 32, when the children of Gad, Reuben, and half the tribe of Manasseh desired to stay on the east side of the Jordan, while the rest of the Israelites went on to conquer Canaan, Moses delivered a brief history lesson, reminding these tribes how a few discouraged the many and, as a result, none of the Israelites who were 20 years old and above were allowed to see the promised land "except Caleb the son of Jephunneh, the Kenizzite, and Joshua the son of Nun, for they have wholly followed the Lord"(Num. 32:12).

In Deuteronomy 1, Moses exhorted the Israelites not to be afraid of the inhabitants of Canaan because the Lord was with them. Moses reminded the people how the Lord delivered them out of Egypt and was with them in the wilderness. Once again, Moses also reminded the people how the previous generation had lost heart and lost faith in the Lord and were not allowed to see the promised land "except Caleb the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him and his children I am giving the land on which he walked, because he wholly followed the Lord"(Deut. 1:36).

What a commendation! Friends, when the Lord commends and praises someone in the Bible, we should take notice. Caleb is mentioned time and again as a man who "wholly followed the Lord". Could the same be said of us? I hope so. Let us consider three lessons we can learn from this mighty man of faith:

  1. We must wholly follow the Lord even when we are in the minority. There is no doubt that such can be hard, but it is important that we do so because...
  2. The Lord notices those who wholly follow Him. Such is evident by the Lord's treatment of Caleb! The Lord treated Caleb favorably because...
  3. The Lord rewards those who wholly follow Him. Caleb was allowed to enter the physical promise land of Canaan because he "wholly followed the Lord." Likewise, dear listeners, if we want to enter the spiritual promise land of Heaven, we too must wholly follow the Lord.