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NOW GIVE ME THIS HILL COUNTRY

Joshua 14:6-14:15
Key Verse: 14:12

Chapter 13 is about the division of the land to 12 tribes of Israel – the east of the Jordan to the two and a half tribes and the west of the Jordan to the nine and a half tribes. The tribe of Levi was excluded because they had God himself as their inheritance. Chapter 15 is about the allotment of the land to the tribe of Judah. Today, we want to focus on the faith of Caleb based on Chapter 14:6-15. Who is Caleb? We first met him as one of the twelve leaders of Israel chosen to spy out the land of Canaan after the Exodus. In this passage he made his appearance again 45 years later. Now, he was in the Promised Land as the leader of the tribe of Judah during the time of conquest and division of the land. Bible does not describe the life of Caleb in detail. But Bible regards his life very highly. He was the one who was recognized by God as a man of different spirit. God said in Numbers 14:24. “But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.” His spirit was different from the other unbelieving ten spies who explored the land of Canaan together. His spirit was different from the Israelites who wandered in the wilderness and perished. In this passage, let’s think what made him different from others in three ways.

First, Caleb followed God wholeheartedly. Look at verse 6 and 7a. “Now the men of Judah approached Joshua at Gilgal, and Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know what the LORD said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me. 7 I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land.” Caleb reminded Joshua of what happened at Kadesh Barnea 45 years ago. At that time he was 40 year old young man. He was one of 12 spies chosen from 12 tribes of Israel. They explored the land of Canaan according to the command of Moses. Look at verse 7b and 8. “And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, 8 but my brothers who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt with fear. I, however, followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly.” The ten spies said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. 33 We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”(Numbers 13:32b-33) When they saw the Anakites, strong giants living there, their hearts were frozen with fear. With such a negative report they also made the hearts of the people melt with fear. They rebelled against God and his servant and wanted to go back to Egypt. But Joshua and Caleb brought a report according to their convictions. “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. 8 If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. 9 Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them.” (Numbers 14:7-9) In KJV, it says, “for they are bread for us.” How different the two views of life are in the same situation. One group shrinks into grasshoppers, while the others see well prepared bread waiting for them to eat deliciously. God was so pleased with them and allowed only two men, Caleb and Joshua, to enter the Promised Land. And to Caleb, God gave the land he explored, the hill country Hebron as his inheritance. It was because he followed God wholeheartedly. God said in Numbers 14:24, “But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.” It was his own testimony of his life as well. Look at verse 8b. “I, however, followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly.” Verse 14 again says, “So Hebron has belonged to Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite ever since, because he followed the LORD, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly.” Here, “wholeheartedly” means 100% of his heart, not 99%. It is like a one year old sacrificial lamb without any defect. It is like a pure gold without any impurity. It is possible to follow God wholeheartedly when we let God fill our hearts 100%. It is possible when we let go of all our greed and worldly ambitions, and fill our hearts with God. We can follow God as much as we let God fill our hearts. When we give 100% of our hearts to God can we follow him wholeheartedly like Caleb. When we follow God wholeheartedly, our heart is fully satisfied with God alone. We are free from all the fear and anxieties of the world. We have true strength and courage to face any problems of life because God fills us with faith and hope. When we follow God wholeheartedly can we please God and become blessing to others. But when we do not follow God wholeheartedly, our hearts are scattered by many things of the world that make us fearful and anxious all the time. We have no peace in our soul. We have no strength to overcome our problems and pioneer our life. May we let God fill our hearts 100% so that we can follow God wholeheartedly and become more than conquerors in any situations of life.

Second, Caleb had God’s promise in his heart. Look at verse 9. “So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly.’” God gave him the land on which his feet have walked as his inheritance. Look at verse 10. “Now then, just as the LORD promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the desert. So here I am today, eighty-five years old!” Since he received God’s promise, more than 4 decades have passed. He had to wait patiently – for forty-five years --- to receive the fulfilment of God’s promise. But the promise of God in his heart did not die. Rather, it was burning all the more in his heart. He had a vision that came from God’s promise. God’s vision gave him strength to endure those 45 years, which consisted of wandering in the wilderness and fierce battles in Canaan. God’s vision made him faithful to God and his servant in the midst of many rebellions. For those long years, he was moving toward the land of promise step by step according to God’s guidance. Now, he was in the Promised Land. Look at verse 11. “I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then.” He was now 85 year old. But he was not weak and tired grandpa. During those troubled years, he grew stronger, bolder, and more confident in God. He was as strong and vigorous as young man. To him, age is just a number. Here we learn the secret of healthy life. It was his faith in God’s promise. Do you have the promise of God burning in your heart like Caleb? Yes. We have the promise of God made to each of us personally when we are called by God. We should never lose this promise even when our life seems so hard and hopeless. We must make our vision more burning with faith in God. Our God is faithful God. He never forgot his promise. He will lead our life according to his promise and fulfill his promise in his right time. We must follow our God wholeheartedly with God’s vision burning in our hearts. We must move one foot after another, looking ahead to God’s promise land.

Third, Caleb conquered God’s promised land by faith. Let’s read verse 12 together. “Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.” Now when the time came, Caleb boldly came to Joshua and claimed God’s promise. The promised land God gave to Caleb was the hill country, Hebron. He made it clear that Hebron is the land the LORD promised to him. His claim was on the basis of God’s promise, not on his own desire or plans. When we claim our promised land based on God’s promise, we must be sure that it is ours. But there was a problem. This land was not an easy land to conquer. There were strong Anakites, who made the hearts of people melt with fear 45 years ago. Also, their cities were large and fortified. So to Caleb, claiming the land involves fierce battle to drive out the strong enemies. He had to risk his own life and lives of his brothers in order to conquer the land. If he only looked at the difficult situation, it was easy to be afraid and give up. But his spirit was the same as before. Look at verse 12b, “but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.” He believed that God would be with him and help him to drive out the enemies and conquer the Promised Land. This assurance of victory came from his faith in God’s promise. And his courage and boldness came from his faith in God and complete trust in him. He was more than sure that it is the LORD’s battle, and that God will give him victory. Look at verses 13-15. “Then Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave him Hebron as his inheritance. 14 So Hebron has belonged to Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite ever since, because he followed the LORD, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly. 15 (Hebron used to be called Kiriath Arba after Arba, who was the greatest man among the Anakites.)” Joshua was moved by Caleb’s faith and blessed him and gave him Hebron as his inheritance. Caleb drove out the three Anakites—Sheshai, Ahiman and Talmai -- from the land and conquered the land by faith. (15:14)

What is our hill country, Hebron? It is the Promised Land God gave us as our inheritance. To some, it is a study at school. To others, it is workplace. And to still others, it is a family. It is also our mission land God gave us as our inhertance. We must claim our Hebron based on our faith in God’s promise. Even though they are given as our inheritance, they will not be realized until we claim it by faith and conquer by faith. There may be strong enemies to fight and strong fortress to destroy. But we have the assurance that God will help us and give us victory because it is the Promised Land God gave us. Even through there are many strong enemies in campus, such as humanism, materialism and hedonism, we will certainly drive them out and conquer this land as God’s inheritance. May God give us the claiming faith of Caleb as we pioneer UofT campus. May God give us courage and boldness to conquer this Promised Land through 1:1 and discipleship ministry. Let’s read the key verse together. May God bless us to follow God wholeheartedly with full trust in his promise like Caleb.

(James Lee)

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