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From the editor: "Give me this mountain" (Joshua 14.12)

J Grant

It had been a long journey. Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, at the age of eighty-five, is about to see realised an ambition that he had nursed in his breast for forty-five years. All these years before he had heard ten of the spies who had accompanied him and Joshua in a tour of Canaan express their fears that they would be defeated in any attempt to take the land that the Lord had promised to Abraham (Num 13.26-33). Fear of the giants, the sons of Anak, was the final excuse given for their failure. Despite the promise of the Lord and the urgings of Caleb and Joshua the people refused Canaan and, as a result, the nation endured thirty-eight years in the wilderness.

Now he asked Joshua to allocate Hebron to him, the dwelling place of the Anakims who had struck fear into the hearts of the ten spies. "Give me this mountain", he requested, so that he could show that there was no need to fear the sons of Anak when the battle was the Lord’s. His desire was to be an overcomer against enemies who had overcome his compatriots without a blow being struck. What confidence rings through his words, "If so be the Lord will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out" (Josh 14.12).

But what kind of man was this mighty warrior for God? First, he was a faithful witness. He urged the people to cast away their fear and rely on the Lord. His exhortation was to encourage them in submission and obedience, not by minimising the power of their enemies, but by declaring, "The Lord is with us: fear them not" (Num 14.9). Let us likewise seek to encourage each other, by word and example, to keep making progress in Christian life.

Second, he was a patient pilgrim. Since the disastrous advice of his fellow spies he had waited. No rancour marked his days; no complaints were raised against those who had not only lost their right to benefit from Canaan, but who had denied him and Joshua the enjoyment of that bountiful land; his voice was never raised in dissatisfaction against the Lord. He was content to wait for the Lord to act. What an example for us when difficult days overcome us! The Lord’s promises will be fulfilled. Caleb like, may we wait in patience. His eyes were raised above the failure of others and set firmly on the Lord.

Third, he was a submissive servant. On their return from spying out the land it was Caleb, and not Joshua, who "stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it" (Num 13.30). He took the lead in urging the nation to obey the Lord. But it was Joshua who was chosen to be Moses’ successor! It was his fellow spy who was to be the leader as they entered Canaan. Was there any feeling of injustice in Caleb’s heart? Did he complain? Was his dissatisfaction seen in his demeanour, which spoke louder than words? No! Caleb rose above all that. Personal ambition did not blight his life. Let us ensure that jealousy of others never claims our minds and darkens our horizon.

Fourth, he was a mighty warrior. Since entering Canaan he had waited about five years for this day. Now he cried, "Give me this mountain". The spiritual ambition, sustained in his heart for forty-five years was as strong as ever. His fervour was undiminished, his vision as clear. Joshua blessed him and gave him Hebron, the home of the Anakims, seemingly impregnable with its mighty fortress cities. But that in which others had failed would become his never-to-be-forgotten triumph (Josh 15.14). The Anakims fell before him and he saw accomplished the hope that had helped to sustain him every day of the wilderness journey. The Lord thus honoured his faithfulness.

Fifth, he was a caring father. For his daughter he sought a husband who was an overcomer (Josh 15.16-19). Othniel proved that he was worthy to be his son-in-law. The land that he gave them was watered by upper and lower streams. He knew that in life’s pathway they would require refreshment, as he had and as all pilgrims require, not only when enjoying the heights but also when in the shadow of the lower land.

Let us dare to be Calebs; faithful, patient, uncomplaining, without bitterness, submissive, and thus able to be overcomers who pass on to the next generation that which will refresh and strengthen. May we cry, when faced with the enemy, "Give me this mountain"!

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