Following the Lord Fully
It was something Caleb said about himself (Josh. 14:8). He had fully followed the Lord. Nor was it an idle boast. His words are merely an echo of the Lord’s: ‘my servant Caleb…has followed me fully’ (Num. 14:24). How may we do the same?
We need faith. When Caleb and Joshua and the other ten spies came back from spying out Canaan they were all agreed on this at least – it was a land that flowed ‘with milk and honey’ (Num. 13:27). God had promised his people a good land. And it was good. But it was also unconquerable. Or so said the ten. But not Caleb. ‘Let us go up at once and occupy it’, he said, ‘for we are well able to overcome it’ (Num. 13:30). Because they had superior forces? Rather, because of his confidence in the Lord: ‘If the Lord delights in us, he will bring us into the land and give it to us’ (Num. 14:8). They need only move forward in faith and the land would be theirs.
We need courage. The eyes of the ten were on the power of their enemies and the strength of their cities. And certainly there would be no victory for Israel without a fight. But Caleb’s faith gave him courage. Persuaded that the Lord was on their side he was ready for war, confident that the Lord would give them victory.
We need steadfast loyalty. The people were quickly infected by the cowardice and unbelief of the ten. They even talked about stoning Caleb because of his insistence that they go forward. But Caleb had taken his stand for the Lord. And there he remained – unmoved.
Faith, courage, steadfast loyalty – these are what made Caleb the follower of the Lord that he was. If we are to follow him fully we must have them too.
Consider how we need them. To fully follow the Lord may mean (as it did for Caleb) bringing God, his word, and his will into the heart of a situation when others would rather we kept them out. It may mean believing and doing what the Lord says in the face of others’ disobedience and unbelief – and continuing to do so in the face of opposition, ridicule, and threat. Only faith, courage and steadfast loyalty will make us equal to such challenges.
Consider how God will honour them. It is forty-five years on. The ten spies are long dead. All the men of Israel who stood with them have passed from the scene as well. But Caleb lives on. For their faithfulness, God has spared both him and Joshua. And now he is in Canaan and able at last to enter on the enjoyment of his promised and long-awaited inheritance: ‘Then Joshua blessed him and gave Hebron to Caleb . . . for an inheritance. Therefore Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb . . . because he wholly (or fully) followed the LORD’ (Josh. 14:14).
Following the Lord fully is, of course, an ongoing thing. It needs to be true of us constantly. There are times, however, when the issues at stake are peculiarly momentous; when the decisions we make may have life-long consequences for good or ill. So it was with Caleb. So it may be for you. Choose well. Choose aright. Fully follow the Lord as Caleb did. Be, by grace, the believing, brave, and loyal follower that Caleb was. As God honours such following (as he will) his blessing may do nothing less than enrich the whole of the rest of your life.
David Campbell is pastor of Grace Baptist Church, Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
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