Have you heard about the man named Caleb in the Bible? Do you want to know the lessons from his life? If yes, you came to the right place. Caleb is a courageous and faithful soldier of God. The story of Caleb is found in different books of the Bible. Thus, it might be tough to study his life without a proper guide. That’s why this blog is here for you. Discover what Caleb’s life can teach Christians today.
Lesson no. 1: the meaning behind the name Caleb
If you look into the meaning of Caleb, you probably come up with an answer “dog.” According to most dictionaries, the name Caleb means “dog.” At first glance, Caleb’s name may sound too derogatory and insulting. Who would name his son with a name that means dog, right? But here we are. We encounter a mighty warrior, a man of valor, a man who fully followed God and his name means dog.
However, there is a significance to the meaning of Caleb’s name. First of all, he possesses the FAITHFULNESS of a dog. There’s no doubt, we know today that a dog is man’s best friend because of their great LOYALTY to their master. You might have heard of a story of a dog’s love to his master. In the same way, we must also emulate this attribute of a dog. Our loyalty and allegiance are for God alone.
Moreover, a dog is there to protect his master. I have also seen dogs who are willing to give their lives just to save their master. And that is exactly what we must learn from dogs.
While yes, having a name that means “a dog” can be very disappointing especially in the Israelite society where names are considered to be a determiner of their fate, Caleb didn’t saw it that way. Instead, he made it a point that he will demonstrate the positive attributes of dogs in his life.
Lesson no. 2: the majority is not always right
In a world where democracy is the most favored system of government, we hear of the expression, “The majority is always right.” However, this was never the case in Caleb’s life.
Before the Israelites were able to enter the Promised Land, Moses sent out 12 spies to scout the land of Canaan. After 40 days, it was time for them to give their report. Ten of the spies said:
“Then they told him, and said: ‘We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the South; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and along the banks of the Jordan.’” (Numbers 13:27-29)
The report of the ten spies discouraged the people. It even melted their hearts. However, Caleb SILENCED the crowd and boldly stated:
“LET US GO UP AT ONCE and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it” (Verse 30).
Now, here’s a man who stood out from the crowd and demonstrated a great zeal and passion for following God’s command. However, the Israelites were contaminated with the majority-is-always-right mentality. Because of the bad report given by the ten spies, they refused to enter the Promised Land.
From this story, we can see that men have always sought to disregard the commandments of God. After all, we read in Revelation 12:9 that the WHOLE WORLD is deceived by no other than Satan, the devil. Therefore, we can see that true Christians are always outnumbered.
However, time will come when God’s kingdom will be established on this earth. At that point, God’s people will rule and become the “majority” who will teach the rest of mankind God’s way of life.
Lesson no. 3: We must be ready to be different
The Christian life is not a walk in the park. If you are comfortable and don’t feel like being challenged, then something must be wrong with your walk with Christ.
There are many times that we will stand alone fighting for our Christian beliefs. There will be a time when we have to stand firm against the evils of this world. And that is exactly what Caleb and Joshua went through when they delivered their report to the Israelites.
Take note: all of them were given the same mission. All of them saw the same thing. But not all of them gave the same report. While the ten spies were giving their account, it could have discouraged both Caleb and Joshua and yet, we have seen that they stood STRONG by their godly principles and remained steadfast in their belief.
At that moment, they were different. They knew whatever God has promised, He will surely deliver. They never compromised.
God has this to say about Caleb:
“But my servant Caleb, because HE HAS A DIFFERENT SPIRIT and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it” (Numbers 14:24, ESV).
In those times that we have to be different because of our Christian belief, do you have the courage to stand your ground and stay true to your values? We need to realize that we are actually NOT alone. When all people seemed to walk away from us, that’s the time that it should be crystal clear in our minds that God is with us.
Lesson no. 4: Words are powerful
We have seen how words can easily tear apart or build up the nation of Israel. By the report of the ten spies, the Israelites were discouraged, and all the zeal within them dried up. There’s no doubt that the words of James ring true throughout the ages. He said:
“Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a FIRE, a world of iniquity… But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:5, 6, 8).
If only the ten spies used their words to encourage, build up, and motivate the nation of Israel, they could have changed the course of history.
On the other hand, Caleb and Joshua used the power of tongue responsibly. Instead of an evil report, Caleb passionately said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it” (Numbers 13:30).
Sadly, as a nation bent on rebellion, they believed what the ten spies said. As a result, “All the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night” (Numbers 14:1).
As Christians, we must use our words carefully.
When people talk to us, do they leave the conversation discouraged or edified?
When we speak to our peers, do we gossip or discuss profitable things?
You know what the answer should be. So, let us learn from the story of Caleb and realize that there is power in our words.
Lesson 5: Caleb used the eyes of faith
All the spies saw the same thing. However, not all of them used the eyes of faith.
The other spies saw fortified and secure cities that are impossible to break through. Caleb saw cities that are too small that they can easily conquer through God’s majestic power.
The other spies saw giants that they felt like grasshoppers in their presence. Caleb saw another opportunity to prove to the world that God is the LIVING GOD who do impossible things.
The other spies went home discouraged, depressed, and hopeless. Caleb went home with a burning zeal and intense urgency that they should not waste any time anymore and immediately conquer the land.
The other spies saw the problem. Caleb saw the solution.
What made Caleb’s perspective so different? It was because he was using the eyes of faith. The Bible tells us, “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (II Corinthians 5:7).
As Christians, we are also called to use our eyes of faith. Though the things around us may look problematic, dire, and dismal, we can always look to God through our eyes of faith and keep on fighting the good fight that has been laid before us.
Lesson no. 6: Human Nature will find a way to break God’s commandment
Here’s a simple demonstration of how stiff-necked and hard-headed the Israelites were. Because of their reluctance to enter the land, God became so angry that He was ready to wipe out all the nation of Israel (Numbers 14:12). Thankfully, Moses interceded for them. Though God relented His anger, He gave a death sentence to all the Israelites; all who are 20 years old and above shall never enter the Promised Land except for Joshua and Caleb.
When the people heard this news, they mourned GREATLY. Now that God said that they should not go anymore, they decided to invade the land of Canaan!
Moses warned them that they will just be defeated by their enemies, but they won’t listen. As a result, “the Amalekites and the Canaanites who dwelt in the mountain came down and attacked them, and drove them back as far as Hormah.”
We need to learn a lesson from this situation. God meant every word He said. If He commands us to do something, He expects us to do it. God won’t command something that we cannot follow. He won’t promise anything that He can’t deliver. We need to overcome our human nature and the tendency to disobey God.
Lesson no. 7: There’s a time that it will all be too late
God gave the Israelites a lot of opportunities for them to enter the land of Canaan. Actually, God’s command should be good ENOUGH for them to be a source of encouragement. It should be an assurance that they can overcome all their enemies that may prevent them from possessing the land. However, their fear and unbelief got the best of them.
It should be noted that God is the God of mercy, but He is also the God of justice. He was merciful to the Israelites and gave them great signs and wonders for them to believe that it was God who will come before them! However, they did not listen until it was TOO LATE.
We read that when Moses told them that they will not be able to enter the Promised Land, they mourned GREATLY (Numbers 14:39)! However, no amount of tears and regret can save them now. A sentence had been made, and God made a decision already.
As Christians, God also has given us a lot of opportunities to change our ways and turn from our wicked ways. However, there will come a time when we will seek Him and find no one. There will come a time, just like in the time of Noah, that it will be too late for us to enter the Ark.
So it must be a time for us to hearken God’s call to repentance. We need to answer His call right NOW and not delay anymore. God has been so patient with us, and I hope that God’s goodness will lead us to repentance.
Lesson no. 8: Be patient for God’s promise
Now, here is something that must be too hard for all of us to do; being patient. In a world where instant gratification is glorified, being patient and waiting for the LORD is too difficult and even discouraging at times. However, we can learn from the life of Caleb the meaning of real patience.
Notice that God said that Caleb, along with Joshua, will enter the Promised Land. However, the timing was not next week, next month, or next year. He needs to wait until 40 years were finished and all the current generation of Israel will die in the wilderness!
God promised, Caleb WAITED. For how many years? FOR FORTY-FIVE YEARS! (Joshua 14:10)
Can you imagine all the thoughts that might have run in the mind of Caleb? Why should it be too long, God? Why can’t I have my reward right now? Isn’t it good enough that I stood out from the crowd and became your representative to these people? And the list of questions might have gone on and on for entire 45 years!
However, this what sets apart Caleb from others. He was patiently waiting for the LORD! Doubts may have entered Caleb’s mind, but that didn’t stop Him from believing the words of God. Oh, if only we have patience like Caleb’s, we could have seen more Christians standing their ground and waiting for God’s reward!
Lesson no. 9: Caleb was dependent on God
Caleb won a lot of battles during his lifetime. Even at age 85, Caleb exclaimed, “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” (Joshua 14:11).
As this might be the case, Caleb didn’t stop on relying God. On the day he claimed God’s promise, he said:
“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.”
Caleb realized that he was nothing without God and that he won his battles, not because of his strength, military genius, or years of experience. It was God all those years that gave him the victory. And now that it was time for him to conquer their enemy, Anakim, he sought God’s blessing again, like what he has always been doing. He recognized that without God’s help and intervention, his fight will be in vain. After all, he was going to face a FORMIDABLE ENEMY, the giants of the land.
Surely, if he would win this fight, it would be through God’s intervention and grace. Nothing else can help him claim victory over this influential group of people. But with God’s protection and blessing, he will reign VICTORIOUS.
Lesson no. 10: Caleb fully followed God
Caleb is known in the Bible as the man who followed God fully. He said, “I wholly followed the Lord my God” (Joshua 14:8). God, Himself, praised Caleb and stated that Caleb “has followed me fully” (Numbers 14:24).
Caleb’s life was all about his dedication to living God’s way of life. He might not be perfect just like any of us, but he made it a point that he will follow God in the best way he possibly could.
It is the time that we follow God fully as well. We need to give not just 50%, 75%, or 90% of our lives to God, but we need to dedicate 100% of our lives.
So what are the things that keep us back from following God? Is it our possession? Is it our desire to earn more, be more powerful, respected, and valued in the eyes of men? We all know that all material things and worldly ambitions will all come to NOTHING without God in our lives.
Caleb made a decision early in his life to follow God, and he reaped the blessings and joy of living God’s way of life. Because of God’s grace and the obedience of Caleb, he was rewarded richly and greatly. God promised Caleb:
“But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it.”
There are more lessons to learn from the life of Caleb. However, these ten lessons are surely the points that we shouldn’t miss.
Caleb will forever be remembered as the mighty warrior who followed God fully. He was the man who was blessed by God. Most importantly, his life was a demonstration that God’s way truly works, and as Christians, we must also realize these lessons and apply them in our lives.
So carry on. Be a good and faithful soldier of God and at the end, you will surely see the spiritual Land of Promise that is prepared for all the victorious saints!