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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Giant Breakfast!

“Only do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread” - Numbers 14:9a

Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there,” -  Joshua 14:12a

Do you live in defeat? Do you cower and tremble in the shadow of giant problems in your life? Do you live in fear? There is an antidote to defeat and fear. God calls us to “Walk by faith and, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7). Fear is the giant foe of faith. Fear is the consequence of walking in our flesh by sight rather than by faith in God. God wants you to grow in your faith and surprisingly allows giants, giant problems in our life to feed our faith. Giant obstacles are really giant opportunities to grow in our faith.
Let’s get some context about a historical character named Caleb. The first time Moses brought the people to the precipice of the Promised Land, he sent twelve spies into the Land. After scoping out the territory they returned with a mixed report. They all admitted the Land was prosperous and fruitful; just what God had told them. But ten spies, (who remained nameless)  focused on giants that were also in the Land. The sight of these giants struck fear in their heart as though they would be squashed like grasshoppers.  Their hearts melted (Joshua 14:8). Two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, acknowledged the giants but had faith in God. In the flesh or self-reliant world majority rules and so the people fearfully rebelled against God and refused to enter the Land. This faithless faltering was a huge affront to God. He showed that they hadn’t learned a thing from all the provisions and protections of God to that point. God had delivered them from the giant world power of Egypt (Exodus). God had provided manna and meat and water from a rock for them (Num. 11; Exodus 17). But they chose to fear instead of have faith in God. As a consequence God judged them unworthy to enter the Promised Land. Only Joshua and Caleb were spared this discipline and would one day enter the Land (Num. 14).

Fast forward forty five years and the next generation of people, led by Joshua, had made a triumphal crossing of the Jordan and conquest of the Land. It was time for the people to be  apportioned the Land (Joshua 14:1-5). “Then the children of Judah came to Joshua in Gilgal.” (Joshua 14:6). Gilgal, the place of rolling, is where God’s people were circumcised; where they threw off the flesh and rolled away self-effort and committed themselves to follow the Lord and depend on His strength. It was here that Caleb came to claim his allotment of the Land.

The faith we see in Caleb as he comes to Joshua to take his portion is the kind of faith we should emulate. He shows us how to make minced meat out of the giants in our land. In Joshua 14 Caleb tells his old partner Joshua, “You know the word which the Lord said to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh Barnea. 7 I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart. 8 Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the Lord my God. 9 So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children’s forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord my God.’ 10 And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years, ever since the Lord spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old. 11 As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in. 12 Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said.” Then it states, “And Joshua blessed him, and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh as an inheritance. 14 Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholly followed the Lord God of Israel. 15 And the name of Hebron formerly was Kirjath Arba (Arba was the greatest man among the Anakim). Then the land had rest from war.” (Joshua 14:6-15).  

Caleb was 85 years old and yet he testified, “I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me” to spy out the land from Kadesh Barnea 45 years before. At 85 Caleb wasn’t worn out, he was raring to go. When you walk in faith in the Lord it results in a spiritual vitality that is lasting.

Joshua had been assessed by God to be “old and advanced in years “ (13:1). A much different description is given of Caleb. Hebron was where the giants lived! At age 85 Caleb was willing to take on the hardest most challenging part of the land; giant infested Hebron! Forty-five years before he was ready to go get those giants. He’s waited forty-five years and never lost his passion to go after the giants. That speaks volumes about his walk with the Lord and his faith in God. Do you have that kind of faith that trusts in the Lord even though there may be giants lurking nearby? 

  The name “Caleb” means bold; impetuous, a dog, whole-hearted, hearty. He was loyal to the Lord like a faithful sheep dog is to its Shepherd. He went where His master told him to go. That required faith. When we look at these verses about Caleb we learn some valuable truths about how to gain victory over the giants in life.  

First, Caleb didn’t rest on past victories; he pursued with passion God’s Promised Land (14:6-9).  Caleb could have said, “Hey, I was one of only two guys that got it right the first time we approached this land. You need to compensate me and let me sit back and enjoy my retirement.” He could have said, “I’ve been faithful all these years. Don’t I deserve a part of the Land that’s trouble free?” Instead he had a passion for God’s purposes. He wasn’t intimidated by giant obstacles; he sought them out! We should pray that God keep our passion for His purposes strong. Are you pursuing the giants God has allowed in your life?

Second, Caleb trusted in God who he knew loved him (14:8). Caleb “wholly followed the LORD my God” (14:8b). His heart didn’t “melt” like those who had no faith but only fear (14:8a). He loved the Lord and that love made him secure in whatever lot the Lord gave him. He knew that because God did love him, that He had his best interests at heart. He could trust God because he knew God loved him. Because God loved him, and by faith he received that, he could rest his will in the will of His loving LORD. Do you love God like that?

Third, Caleb didn’t see age as a limitation. Caleb knew “The LORD has kept me alive” (14:10). If that was the case, Caleb felt God must have a purpose for him. He boasted that at 85 he was as strong and ready for battle as he was when he was 40. That’s supernatural God given strength. But that’s also a supernatural eternal perspective on life. Are you letting your age quench what the Spirit might want to do in and through you? We shouldn’t let age and cultural mores limit how God wants to use us. As long as God gives us breath we should seek how He wants to use us. And when our strength is in the Lord, it will not wane; keep being filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18).

Fourth, Caleb’s faith rested in God (14:10-11).  Caleb believed God was just as able to work through him at 85 as He was at 40. That’s because Caleb rested in the fact that the battle belongs to the Lord not an 85 year old (cf. Joshua 10). If the battle belongs to the Lord, then we can boast in our weakness and know when we are weak, He is strong in and though us (cf. 2 Cor. 12:8-10). It’s about God, not us.

Fifth, Caleb accepted God’s lot for him (14:12a). Caleb didn’t rebel in dissatisfaction at God’s lot or portion of Hebron. He didn’t run from God’s call. He wasn’t afflicted with the grass is greener on the other side syndrome. He didn’t flee in dissatisfaction or fear. He accepted God’s lot for him with gusto. If God gives us a portion, He will bless and bring victory in that area. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. So often people rebel against God’s lot in life for them. Discontent can be a great barrier to God’s blessing. Learn to joyfully and passionately accept God’s lot for you and attack it with everything you’ve got. Are you accepting God’s lot in life?

Sixth, Caleb relied on God’s word (14:12b). Caleb expressed his faith in God’s word saying, “It may be that the LORD will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the LORD said” (14:12). “As the LORD said,” was good enough for Caleb. If God said it, that settled it for Caleb. Do you have the same trust and confidence in God’s word? Do you rely on God’s word? Soes God’s word settle it for you?

Seventh, Caleb knew that going after giants would bring him closer to God (14:13). Hebron means fellowship. Hebron was a land filled with giants. Is there a connection between fellowship with God and giants in the land? Taking the land filled with giants was no easy venture in faith. But Caleb new (and probably the secret to his vitality) was that tackling the giants in life causes us to depend on the Lord; fellowship with Him. Giants bring us closer to God!

The first time Caleb had faced the giants he returned to Kadesh Barnea from spying out the Land. 10 of the twelve spies gave a fearful report concerning the giants in the Land. But Joshua and Caleb said, “Only do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the LORD is with us. Do not fear them” (Num. 14:9). 45 years later Caleb is just as courageous and zealous to tackle these giants.

“They are our bread.” What does that mean? It means that in some way these giants were nourishing; facing giants nourishes. How? Facing giants nourishes our faith and fosters deeper fellowship with God because it causes us to call out to Him, depend on Him; rely on His strength. Giants in life, giant problems, are what bring us into a deeper fellowship with God. That is why we are told to count trials a joy (James 1:2). That is why we are told that God causes all things, including giant problems, to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28). Giant trials serve as spiritual nourishment. It helps us chew on the reality that, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31). With God, giants are inconsequential. Giant issues build our faith as we learn to depend on God and experience His faithfulness. Giant problems are giant opportunities to make giant strides in our fellowship with the Lord. “He who did not spare His own Son, but  delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32).

This was Caleb’s secret. He had an attitude that helped him soar to higher altitudes with the LORD. His faith enabled him to boldly assert, “Give me the mountain with the giants! They’ll be my spiritual bread. I’ll eat ‘em alive!” When Caleb saw the Anakim he thought Let me at ‘em! The secret to spiritual vitality is giant activity. Don’t run from giants in your life, attack them in the power of His might (Eph. 6:10). Step out in faith and fight the giants in the might of the Lord and you’ll find a deeper, stronger, lasting fellowship with the Lord. You’ll find victory!

Eighth, Caleb wholly rested his lot with the Lord and therefore found God’s rest (14:14-15). Caleb “wholly followed the Lord” (14:14). Even though Hebron was infested with giant Anakim, he tackled the foes in the strength of the Lord and took that land for the Lord and His glory. He did his best and entrusted the LORD with the rest. And in the end, “Then the land had rest from war” (14:15). The rest of satisfaction and accomplishment, the rest of freedom and securing faith, comes when we take on the giants and lay them to rest.

Are you living in the shadow of a giant or giants; big ugly intimidating giant problems? When you see them do you make a fast break in the opposite direction? When a giant stands in your path, do you brace to break fast under his attack or do you think breakfast? When you’re  opposed do ready for defeat or do you seek the God of peace to crush Satan under your feet? (Rom. 16:20). Are you a meal for your giants or are they a meal for you? Are you a coward in the face of calamity or are you courageous like Caleb? I pray we all have the courage of a Caleb. I pray we have the same confidence in God’s love that enables us to know and live in light of the certainty that God loves us and has our best interests at heart. I pray that like Caleb we trust the Lord and go after the giants in our life in the strength of His might. Time for breakfast; I’m hungry, are you? I could eat a giant! A giant breakfast!

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