Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
I. THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE THAT DETERMINES THE SPHERE AND SURROUNDINGS OF ALL HUMAN LIFE. This is indicated in the division being made by lot. Whatever the form of the lot may have been, its meaning was that the destination of each particular tribe should not be a matter of human judgment or caprice, but should be left with God. It was no mere reference of the issue to blind chance. The faith of the age was too simple and real for that. Joshua and the elders had too deep a sense of the presence and guidance of the living God. We pass from this mere tribal allocation to think how the same law holds good for all the nations of the world. St. Paul showed his freedom of spirit from the limitations of Jewish prejudice when he declared to the Athenians how God, having made of one blood all nations to dwell on all the face of the earth, "determined for them the times before appointed and the bounds of theft habitation" (Acts 17:26). Christianity reveals a God who is the Father of all mankind, and not of one particular people. The true patriotism is that which acknowleges God's interest alike in all the nations, and teaches us to cherish and use the gifts He has conferred specially on our own country for the common good. Again: the Providence that determines the lot of the nations has the same control over the individual human life. Every man's position in the world is in some sense the fulfilment of a Divine purpose. It may seem to be the result merely of the fortuitous commingling of circumstance, or the capricious drift of man's own choice. But we do well to see through all outward appearances the sovereign hand that guides the course of circumstances and determines the issue. It is God, after all, who chooses our inheritance for us. "The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord" (Proverbs 16:33). The recognition of the Divine Providence that is over us has many beneficial moral effects.
(1) It gives the sanctity of a higher meaning to life,
(2) provokes to thankfulness,
(3) rebukes discontent and distrust,
(4) restrains inordinate ambition,
(5) teaches that respect for the rights and interests of others on which the order and well being of society depend.
II. THE HUMAN AGENCY BY WHICH THE PURPOSE OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE IS FULFILLED. The land is divided according to the will of God, but the people must go in and possess it for themselves. God will drive out the Canaanites that are still there, not without them, but "from before them" (Joshua 13:6). The decision of the lot seems to have had reference only to the general local situation of the tribes; the actual extent of the territory in each ease was left to be determined by the discretion of Joshua and the leaders. There was no caprice in this Divine decision. Nothing God does is arbitrary or reasonless. It was, no doubt, determined according to the peculiar characteristics of each particular tribe, and in such a way as that its geographical conditions should be best fitted to develop its latent powers. Important practical lessons are suggested.
(1) However devoutly we may recognise the Divine Providence that is over us, we have to determine for ourselves the path of duty.
(2) The circumstances of life place possibilities of good within our reach, which it remains for ourselves to actualise.
(3) Every man's life in this world supplies the needful conditions of moral education, if he have but wisdom to discern and skill to improve them.
III. THE SEPARATENESS OF THOSE WHO ARE SPECIALLY DEVOTED TO SPIRITUAL WORK IN THE WORLD. This is indicated by the peculiar position of the tribe of Levi. To them was given no inheritance, "save cities to dwell in with their suburbs" "The sacrifices of the Lord God made by fire" (as also tithes and first fruits) "were their inheritance" (Joshua 13:14). "The Lord God of Israel Himself was the lot of their inheritance" (Joshua 13:33; Numbers 18:20-24). Their position thus bore witness to the sanctity of the whole nation as "a kingdom of priests" unto the Lord (Exodus 19:6). They were the representatives of its faith and the ministers of its worship. And their representative character was made the more effective by the fact of their cities being scattered throughout the tribes (ch. 21.). This principle of separateness is illustrated -
(1) In the various provisions by which the sanctity of the priesthood was maintained under the economy of the law.
(2) In the New Testament institution of a certain order of men who should be set apart - not, indeed, as a hierarchy to whom mystic powers belong, but as the ministers of spiritual instruction and edification to the Church of God (Ephesians 4:11, 12, 13; 1 Corinthians 9:13, 14).
(3) In the Apostolic teaching as to the unworldliness of spirit and life that becomes the followers of Christ (Philippians 3:20; Colossians 3:1, 2, 3; Hebrews 10:34; 1 Peter 2:9). - W.
I. THE GROUNDS OF SUCH A PLAN OF DISTRIBUTION. The first "idea" lying at the root of this distribution of land is, that land is, unlike all other property, not proper to be the possession in perpetuity of any holder. The land is like the air of heaven, like the rain and the sunshine, like the fisheries of the sea, meant to be a common blessing for all, rather than the private good of any. Its productiveness is due to Nature's chemistry as much as to man's art. What man has no part in producing, he has no title to possess, anal therefore no man can legitimately possess himself, to the exclusion of others, of that Divine part of the earth's fruitfulness. Accordingly, the theory of Moses is, that God is the great and only landlord; none having more than life interests in the land. Every fifty years it all was to fall into His hands again. Under God the land belonged to the nation, and the jubilee year permitted it to be so divided that all the families of the nation would enjoy it with a rough equality. A second idea lying at the base of this legislation was, that great wealth and great poverty were both of them great evils, to be prevented at any cost. The evils of poverty are obvious. Insufficient food, physical degeneracy, the development of a servile and dependent spirit; or of a reckless, turbulent spirit, that in its haste to relieve its hunger is apt to overthrow the State. Strife of classes inevitably springs from it. There is a poverty the result of indolence, which the law wisely would not attempt to prevent; and one the result of accidents, which it was impossible to foresee, and so provide against. But every State should direct its first and most patient attention to poverty produced by law; for that is generally the worst kind of all, as well as being a very general kind. And wealth corrupts equally with poverty. Wealth is full of fears, and fear begets tyranny and injustice. Too much is good for no one. The body is weakened by being pampered, the mind by want of constant occupation, the character by the softness that comes from the absence of struggle with difficulties. Ignorance of many of the ills of life begets hard heartedness, and destroys the finer sympathies. The presence of great wealth and great poverty, side by side, intensifies the mischiefs of each, and becomes one of the greatest perils that any community has to contend with. The law of Moses, and the carrying out of it by Joshua, was thus directed to prevent the development of the two great evils of modern civilisation - excessive wealth and excessive poverty. A third idea, lying at the foundation of this legislation, was that the equality of the citizens is the condition most favourable to the well being of the State. All exaggerated differences of condition tend to divide and alienate classes, depriving the land in some degree of cooperation in enterprise, in defence of liberties, in practice of religion. Joshua aimed not at a stagnant communism, which would rob life of its energy, but yet of a brotherly state in which all would have a fair chance of comfort, and none an unfair chance of inordinate wealth. In the present circumstances of our country the land legislation of Moses is especially worthy of our study. We differ from Israel in one important condition - England finds the chief part of her national wealth, not in agriculture, but in manufactures and in commerce. This fact has made land laws, such as every other civilised nation has abolished, tolerable here. But even for England, and still more for Ireland, which is an agricultural land, the time has come when the needless loss and harm and waste which they produce should terminate. In these circumstances mark -
II. SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR LAND LEGISLATION AT HOME CONTAINED IN THE LAWS OF CANAAN.
1. These present us with the ideal at which to aim; viz., to get the land into as many hands as possible.
2. Such an ideal should, it is almost needless to say, be pursued only in a righteous and peaceful way. In a land of such wealth and resource as ours any other method would be as foolish as wicked.
3. Every facility that the law can give for the sale and transfer of lands ought to be given. Entail ought to be forbidden at once, as unjust to the younger children of a family, and injurious to the State, Settlements destroying the right of sale should be prohibited. These two alterations would at once bring much land into the market.
4. A law for division of property among his children on the death of the holder would in two or three generations effect a marvellous revolution in the present most deplorable distribution of land, and would work the same blessings here as such a law has wrought in France, Belgium, Denmark, etc. Instead of 2,000 persons (2,148 exactly) holding more than one-half of the land in the United Kingdom, it is desirable 2,000,000 of persons should share it. If by facilities for sale, the abolition of feudal laws tending to accumulate property in few hands which survive nowhere but here, the land could be by justice and peace brought again into the possession of the people, the gain to the nation would be incalculable. An enormous increase in productiveness would, judging from the experience of the other nations of Europe, at once accrue. This would be the least of the benefits. There would be less poverty, more self respect, more energy, more patriotism, more union amongst our people; perhaps, with the extinction of so much injustice, more religion too. And we should find in this, as in other things, that modern civilisation is never so wise as when it sits at the feet of ancient inspiration. Moses and Joshua are the grandest of all political economists. - G.
I. BELIEF IN PROVIDENCE. The Jew believed that God superintended the lot (Proverbs 16:33). If there be Providence there can be no chance. The word "chance" describes the appearance of events to us: it is indicative of our ignorance. A perfect providential care will guide the smallest events (Matthew 10:29).
II. SUBMISSION TO THE WILL OF GOD. These tribes resigned the choice of their possession to God, and were willing to take whatever He assigned them. We are not free to take our destinies into our own hands. We are God's servants, God's children. Dutiful obedience implies submission to God's will in the shaping of our lives (1 Samuel 3:18).
III. TRUST IN THE WISDOM AND GOODNESS OF GOD. The submission was fearless and trustful We often shrink from God's will even while we bow to it. We submit sadly as to some painful necessity. We should say, "Thy will be done," not with dread and sorrow, but with confidence and hope; making the utterance not merely a reluctant concession, but an earnest prayer, because God's will is best for us. It is best that He should "choose our inheritance for us," because
(1) He knows all the character of the inheritance - we only its superficial aspects.
(2) He knows future events - we only present appearances.
(3) He knows our true needs - we our foolish desires.
(4) He knows our best life's mission - we our selfish aims. Lot suffered by choosing his own inheritance (1 Genesis 13:11).
IV. FAIRNESS AND GENEROSITY IN BUSINESS ARRANGEMENTS. Those who submitted to the lot did not choose the best for themselves. They allowed a division which was fair for all. In business we are too selfish and grasping. The principle of competition should yield to the principle of cooperation. It is wicked for the able and clever to grow rich by taking advantage of the weakness and incapacity of those with whom they transact business (Philippians 2:4). In the end the individual gains by the exercise of such generosity and fairness as promotes the one welfare of the whole community. "We are members one of another." If suffer all suffer (1 Corinthians 12:26). This is not only Christian morality, it is the highest truth of political economy. Before concluding we must look at a question suggested by this subject, viz., Are we right and wise in resorting to the lot in the present day? We have no Divine authority for the present use of it. We have other means of learning God's will. We live under a dispensation of fuller light. Decision by lot corresponds to rule by law - it is authoritative, requiring blind obedience. Christianity opens our eyes to principles of conduct and to principles of Providence. If God now guides us in other ways, we have no right to suppose that He will so direct the lot as to signify His will thereby. To resort to this is to fall hack on lower means of guidance. It often implies both indolence and superstition. - W.F.A.
Numbers 13:30; Numbers 14:6, 10; Deuteronomy 1:36), are illustrated again now that almost another half century has passed. The old man has still the same spirit in him. While some of the tribes are so slow to move that Joshua has occasion to rebuke them for their lethargy (Joshua 18:8), he is eager to secure at once his promised inheritance, defying in the strength of God the formidable sons of Anal In several lights Caleb appears before us here as a worthy example. We see in him -
I. AN HONEST SPIRIT, FORMING A TRUE ESTIMATE OF ITS OWN VIRTUES AND CAPACITIES. He recounts with honourable pride the doings and distinctions of the past - how he had been faithful to his own convictions in his report of the land, not following the evil example of the other spies, or fearing the anger of the people; how Moses had honoured him, and the vigour of which he was conscious even "this day" was his Divine reward. There is no vain boasting here. His grateful recognition of God disproves that. It is the frank acknowledgment of an honest mind. The true heart is conscious of its own integrity and need never shrink from avowing it. It is well that experience of the happy effects of fidelity to the path of duty should be recorded for the encouragement of others. There are times when we may properly "thank God that we are not as other men are." This may be done in the spirit of profoundest lowliness and self distrust. Self depreciation is often but a mock humility. We honour ourselves and God when we duly estimate the worth of the moral qualities with which He has endowed us and the moral victories He has enabled us to win. Let no man "think more highly of himself than he ought to think," but at least let him "think soberly, according as God has dealt to him the measure of faith" (Romans 12:3). Recognise the Divine origin of every virtue you possess, and it will never make you vain; be true to yourself and to your noblest impulses, and you find in yourself an unfailing source of satisfaction and rejoicing (Proverbs 14:14; Galatians 6:3, 4).
II. A BRAVE SPIRIT GATHERING FROM THE MEMORY OF THE PAST AN INCENTIVE TO NEW ENDEAVOUR. There was a moral unity in Caleb's life. He had obeyed the voice of conscience and discharged manfully the sacred responsibility that was imposed on him forty-five years ago, and now he feels the recollection to be stimulating and strengthening to him. He has been lost to us through all the intermediate time, but we may be sure that his life in the desert, as a leader of the great tribe of Judah, had sustained the reputation of early days. And the dauntless spirit of his old age is but the result of habitual fidelity to the call of duty and of God. Such is the moral continuity of our life. So true is it that -
"Our deeds still travel with us from afar, III. A DEVOUT SPIRIT LEANING ON GOD FOR THE FULFILMENT OF HIS OWN PROMISE. We gather from ver. 9 that God had given Caleb a distinct promise of the possession of that mountain in addition to the general promise recorded in Numbers 14:24. To the apprehension of faith every Divine word is a living seed that must one day bring forth the fruition of its own fulfilment, and the mercies of the past are pledges of future help and benediction. - W.
III. A DEVOUT SPIRIT LEANING ON GOD FOR THE FULFILMENT OF HIS OWN PROMISE. We gather from ver. 9 that God had given Caleb a distinct promise of the possession of that mountain in addition to the general promise recorded in Numbers 14:24. To the apprehension of faith every Divine word is a living seed that must one day bring forth the fruition of its own fulfilment, and the mercies of the past are pledges of future help and benediction. - W.
I. THE CHARACTER OF CALEB.
(1) Independence. He and Joshua had stood alone in the almost universal panic. It is difficult to discern the right and he faithful to it when all around us go wrong. The sanction of the multitude is no justification for an evil course. Truth and right are often with the minority (Matthew 7:13, 14).
(2) Truth. Caleb says, "I brought him word again as it was in mine heart." We are tempted to hide our convictions when they are unpopular. The true man speaks what is in "his heart," not the mere echo of the voice of the multitude (Acts 4:19, 20).
(3) Courage. Caleb had advocated the course which seemed to be most dangerous. He is now willing to receive for inheritance a possession from which he will have to expel the Anakims (ver. 12). Courage is a form of unselfishness and a fruit of devotion to duty.
(4) Unselfishness. Though Caleb had shared with Joshua the honour of being faithful and brave in the day of general failure, he has lived quietly ever since, seeking no peculiar honour, and now the brave old man asks for inheritance a mountain region infested with hordes of the fiercest Canaanites, and offers to conquer it for himself. Like Lot, we commonly choose the pleasant places, and are greedy of much reward for little service. Caleb thinks himself no martyr. It is happy to have the humility and unselfishness which not only ask for little but are satisfied with little.
(5) Whole hearted devotion to God (ver. 8). This is the secret of Caleb's character. Devotion to God makes us independent of men, true in the light of His searching eye, brave with trust in His help, and unselfish in obedience to His will. Half hearted devotion fails of this. We must serve God wholly if we would grow strong and true and brave.
II. THE REWARD OF CALEB.
(1) Long life. He and Joshua were the sole survivors of the Jews who escaped from Egypt. The cowards perish. The brave are spared. For us the corresponding blessing is not long earthly life but eternal spiritual life.
(2) Continued strength and opportunity for service. His strength remains (ver. 11). His inheritance makes new claims on his courage and energy (ver. 12). The lot of greatest comfort is not the lot of highest honour. The best reward is renewed ability to serve (Matthew 25:23).
(3) A possession, the advantages of which he had long since discerned. Caleb and Joshua had stood alone in opposing the unbelief of the people in prospect of the promised land. Now their position is justified. The reward of solitary defenders of the truth will come in the ultimate triumph of it. Those who now best appreciate the heavenly inheritance will enjoy it best hereafter.
(4) Rest. The land had rest, and Caleb must have shared the rest. The rest of heaven will be sweetest to those who have toiled and borne most on earth. - W.F.A.
Joshua 14:6 = -end.Joshua 14:14, "Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb... because that he wholly followed the God of Israel;" and that of Joshua 15:13, "Unto Caleb he gave a part among the children of Judah," are expressions which suggest that he was associated with that tribe rather than sprung from it. Whether or not he was an Israelite in flesh, he was earnestly so in faith. If not by birth an Israelite, he is an instance of the converting power of truth, and of the way in which identity of heart and aim supersedes all diversity of nature. He was one of the twelve spies. Had there been other ten like him, the invasion of Canaan would have begun and finished forty years earlier. There was no delusion in his mind; he saw all his colleague saw - the stature of the men, the walls of the cities, the difficulty and all but impossibility of the con. quest. But he saw what only Joshua saw besides him - the presence and the power of God. And seeing that, he believed in the possibility of what seemed to others impossible. Consider some elements of instruction here.
I. GOOD MEN ARE NEEDED FOR SECOND PLACES AS WELL AS FIRST. We cannot all be statesmen, rulers, missionaries. There are many more humble positions than exalted ones. Twelve spyships for one lordship. Good men are needed for all stations. Men who fear to do wrong, who fear to grieve God, and who have no other fear. Complain not of an obscure lot, of a slight opening for your powers; but do the duties of the lot, and avail yourself of the openings you have, and all will be well.
II. Second, observe THE PERSEVERANCE OF SAINTS. He believed in his prime, he believes in his old age. Ready to follow God's leading then, ready now. "As my strength was then, even so is my strength now for war, both to go out and to come in." There is, of course, a miraculous element in this persistence of physical strength and mental vigour at such an age. But it is only a miraculous extension of what is a blessed fact of daily experience. It is strange the vie inertiae of souls. Forty years ago some were faithless, and are so now; others believing, they are so now. There is a tendency for the unjust to be unjust still, and for the righteous to be righteous still. Motion or rest alike tend to be eternal Rise up and follow Christ, and you tend to follow Him on through countless ages. Forsake Him, and you tend to go on forsaking Him. This persistence of habit is nature; but the persistence of better habit is partly grace as well. God keeps the feet from falling, daily charms the spirit afresh, while each step of progress in a good path reveals new reasons for choosing and pursuing it. Do not despair. Of Christ's flock none is lost. "They go from strength to strength; every one of them appeareth before God in Zion." We may not, like Joshua, see eighty-five, and long before the life ends our powers may wither; but grace will not wither.
III. Observe THE USEFULNESS OF SUCH A LIFE OF PROGRESS. Eighty-five years of steady well doing! of right aiming and right action I of the boldness of faith. Joshua and He were left alive, as a sort of leaven to leaven the whole lump of Israel, and they did it. One steady, progressive life of goodness - the same today as yesterday - how invaluable in a village, in a church, in any community. If you would be useful, keep on. Remember Abraham Lincoln's policy for the conquest of the secession - it was to "keep pegging away." Seeming hopeless, it was crowned with success.
IV. Lastly, observe, CALEB'S FAITH HAS A GRAND REWARD. A manifold reward.
1. In the contagiousness with which it spread. It infects his own family (see Joshua 15:17). It infects, as we have seen, many besides.
2. His faith has the opportunity of proving its wisdom. That city, which was impregnable, he took; and these Anakim, who seemed terrific, he mastered. Some men, some things, some forces may be stifled for want of opportunity. But God will always see that there is a candlestick for the light. An "open door" for the "little strength" which can enter it.
3. His faith gets an earthly inheritance of a noble kind. Hebron is his family's for an everlasting possession. The shortest road to getting anything is deserving it. While the clever, the tricky, the greedy, the saving see only what they aspire to "afar off," the deserving go straight on and reach it. His property we can trace in the possession of his descendants down to the time of David (1 Samuel 30:14). It is not sufficiently observed how essential to goodness the courage of faith really is. Let Caleb's example commend it to us. - G.
I. TRUE RELIGION IS BASED ON PERSONAL RELATIONS WITH GOD. Caleb ascribes his courage and fidelity to his connection with God, and he speaks of the Lord as "my God."
(1) Religion is individual. We must pass from "our" God to "my" God. Each soul is called to as private communion with God as if there were no other souls in existence.
(2) Religion establishes close relations with God. In His personal dealings with the soul God comes near to it, so that He appropriates the soul and the soul lays claim to possessing God.
II. RIGHT PERSONAL RELATIONS WITH GOD WILL BE SHOWN BY OUR FOLLOWING HIM. It is not sufficient that we believe, worship, manifest affection. We must show our devotion by a consistent course of life.
(1) This is to seek to be near to God, love and duty drawing us Godward.
(2) It is to obey His commands, following the course of His will
3) It is to emulate His example - trying to do as He does (Matthew 5:48). Christianity consists in following Christ (Mark 1:17, 18).
III. WE ONLY FOLLOW GOD ARIGHT WHEN WE FOLLOW HIM WHOLLY. We cannot serve God and mammon. We must choose whom we will serve. Half hearted service is no true service. Following God wholly implies
(1) not desisting from service on account of loss or trouble incurred;
(2) taking no account of the opinion and conduct of other men when these would deflect us from fidelity to God;
(3) serving God in all the relations of life, business, social, domestic, and private.
IV. UNDIVIDED DEVOTION TO GOD IS NECESSARY FOR SUCCESS IN HIS WORK. We see how thoroughness and singleness of aim are essential to success in secular pursuits - in business, science, art, literature. They are not less essential in spiritual things. Much of our work fails for lack of thoroughness. Hesitating belief, divided aims, mingled motives, often render religious efforts weak and futile. We need to be more perfectly devoted, giving ourselves wholly to God's service (1 Timothy 4:15). - W.F.A.
I. THE FACILITY WITH WHICH MEN ARE DETERRED FROM NOBLE ENTERPRISES. What a lamentable incident was that to which these words refer: "My brethren that were with me made the heart of the people melt." Recall the story of the twelve men and their reconnoitring expedition. They searched the south of Palestine, and admired the fruit which grew there in such abundance; but the hearts of the majority were terrified at the sight of fenced cities and the giants who inhabited them. And so when they returned to their brethren they gave such a discouraging account that the people cried, "Would to God we had died in Egypt!" Caleb tried to still their mumuring, but in vain. The cowardly spirit prevailed. Apparently fear is more easily engendered than hope. It is easier to depress than to cheer. How many religious undertakings have failed through the excessive caution of even good men? It is noteworthy that in the account which Moses gives in Deuteronomy 1:21 he refers to the fact that on the arrival of the Israelites at Kadesh he exhorted them to "go up and possess the land: fear not." Well would it have been if they had acted on the bold counsel of their leader. But they came near and suggested what seemed an exceedingly wise plan - to send men first to spy out the land - and dire was the ultimate effect! We do not inculcate rashness; we only say that courage is sometimes better than caution, and quick action than slow resolves. We need a holy enthusiasm that will minimize dangers and make us "strong in faith."
II. THE DANGER OF EXERTING AN EVIL INFLUENCE. Great responsibility rested on the men who were the means of damping the ardour of their countrymen. Whilst they themselves died of the plague, the rest of the people were condemned to forty years' weary traversing of the desert. So fierce was the wrath of God at the unbelief of the Israelites. This gift of influence God has bestowed on every person. We all wield this power to a greater or less extent. We may repel or attract, and in either case we are helping to mould the opinions and form the practices of our neighbours. We direct their aspirations and colour the spectacles through which they look at men and things. Is our life report for good or for evil?
III. THE SECURITY AGAINST WIELDING AND YIELDING TO AN EVIL INFLUENCE. It is to be noted that Caleb did not seek to persuade his fellows to renounce the idea of invading the Holy Land, and also did not allow himself so to be persuaded by them. He gives us in the text the reason which swayed him and the power which sustained him in opposition to the fears of the other Israelites: "I wholly followed the Lord my God." There might be times in which the mind would be left in suspense as to the proper course to pursue, in which the chief difficulty would be in ascertaining the will of Heaven. But on this occasion there seemed to Caleb but one thing to be done. Precepts and promises clearly showed that it was the duty and privilege of the Israelites to march to the possession of their inheritance. The path was plainly marked; to hesitate was to turn aside from following the Lord. Unswerving obedience to God's declared will is the grand security against ill conduct. All that we read of Caleb proves him to have been a man of strong determination. Whatever he did he did with his might. There is a deal of meaning in that word "wholly." A man whose face is partly to God and partly to the world may have his attention distracted, but he who maintains an attitude that has respect to God only will remain uninfluenced by either the hopes and fears or the blandishments and threats of men. Urge the necessity and helpfulness of taking a decided step, of becoming openly connected with God's people, of avowing an attachment to Christ. Some may raise a difficulty in the way of imitating Caleb's whole-heartedness. This man was gifted with force of character. Now an objector may say, "I by nature am weak, irresolute, easily moved. Why am I blamed if I do not manifest that firmness which others display?" This inquiry runs into a fundamental problem - the reason of the election of men to different degrees of intellectual and moral ability, and the different degrees of accountability resulting therefrom. We cannot well separate the direct gifts of God from the achievements of the individual. We are bound to honour men even for what they owe entirely to God, since the honour reaches higher than men and is laid as an offering before the Throne. But what we must remember is that we are capable of acquiring qualifications which we previously lacked, and we may to a wonderful degree strengthen and improve the powers with which we are endowed. - A.
I. WE HAVE "ANAKIMS" IN OUR INHERITANCE. Some of the highest blessings are fenced about with She greatest difficulties.
1. No earthly inheritance is without its peculiar disadvantages. Some of the "Anakims" which resist us in our efforts to fulfil our mission are
(a) the evil in our own heart, e.g., indolence, fear, earthliness;
(b) the temptations of the world, arising from bad examples, customs, distracting pleasures;
(c) direct hindrance in persecution and opposition growing out of the world's ignorance, prejudice, envy, etc.
2. Nevertheless it is best for us, as it was for Caleb, to have such an inheritance. Difficulties
(a) try our faith and courage;
(b) give scope for energy and devotion;
(c) make the ultimate peace the more blessed.
3. Apply these truths
(a) to private life;
(b) to Church work and the difficulties in evangelising the world;
(c) to public interests, and the hindrances to the work of high principled statesmen and philanthropists which stay the progress of liberty, civilisation, and national prosperity.
II. WE GAVE MEANS FOR OVERCOMING THE "ANAKIMS."
1. God with us. This fact is Caleb's ground of confidence. God does not only approve of the right; He aids it. He does not merely send assistance for the battle of life; He is present as the light to guide and the power to strengthen. Caleb had faith in the real and active presence of God.
2. Brave effort. Caleb says, "I shall be able to drive them out." He names God's help first as indispensable; but he does not stay with this. God's grace is no excuse for man's indolence. God fights for us by fighting in us. Ours is the effort, while His is the strength. True faith in God will not paralyse our energies, but inspire them; because it will show us
(a) that, while the victory will not be given unless we fight, when we fight in the strength of God omnipotence is on our side;
(b) and that God then assures us of victory, and that as He is faithful we may be confident of it. Caleb is confident that with God's help he will drive out the Anakims, because this is "as the Lord said." - W.F.A.
I. A REQUEST FOR THE FULFILMENT OF A PROMISE, "Give me this mountain whereof the Lord spake in that day." As God's representative Joshua is desired to see that the ancient oath is not made void. The declaration of God would not remain without effect, yet observe the manner in which it was to be accomplished, viz., by the petition of the man to whom the declaration was granted. Caleb set a high value on the promise of God. Lightly would he have treated it had he allowed it to rest uncherished in his thoughts. God loves to see His people appreciate what He has offered to bestow. He has given "exceeding great and precious promises," and yet "will be inquired of" to do it for them. Our duty is clear. To lay hold of the announcements of His Word and ground on them our requests. Surely the reason why multitudes never pray is that they think little of the blessings promised to those that ask. We need quickened memories. Are the Scriptures to be empty volumes or full of life and power? The Bible may be our charter; the will of our Father bequeathing rich portions in this world and the world to come; our catalogue of precious furniture that may be had to adorn the household of saints. How many things we have never asked for or claimed as our own! Graces to beautify, gifts to enrich for evermore. "All Scripture is given that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." Man is expected to do his part even in the obtaining of a privilege. Some think, "If we are to be saved we shall be." Caleb might have thought similarly, and neglected to make his request, and gone without his portion. God requires men to use their reasoning powers, to examine the evidences of religion, to repent and believe in Christ - yes, to ask for the adoption that shall make them members of His family.
II. A REWARD SOUGHT LITTLE TO BE DESIRED IN THE EYES OF SOME. Hebron was a large city, a royal city, but the surrounding hills were the fastnesses of giants, who must be attacked and driven away. Before the owner could settle down on the estate he must dislodge the former proprietors. No easy conquest was to be anticipated, yet the courageous soldier said, "Give me this mountain. Others may choose quiet resting places, let me go to the high places of the field." Is there not here an example worthy of imitation? Who will be the advanced guard of the Christian army to attack the fortresses of Sin and Satan? An infusion of Caleb's spirit would do much to reconcile us to what we mourn over as the hardships of our lot. We should take a different view and regard them as our reward, increasing the honour put upon us by God. One man has to struggle in business against fearful odds, another is plagued by a wretched temper, a third is sorely tempted to murmur under a heavy bereavement. God intends these various trims as discipline and as honours. The troubles are the Anakim, who must be cheerfully, bravely encountered. How deep felt will be the joy of triumph! No soldier ought to lament when placed by God in the forefront of the battle. When Jesus drew near His hour of suffering He exclaimed, "Now is the Son of man glorified." Caleb believed that special power had been given for special work. He appealed to facts as indicative of Jehovah's intention respecting him. Not for indolence had he been "kept alive these forty and five years," and his strength preserved, his strength "for war both to go out and to come in" (vers. 10, 11). This principle admits of wide application. The gifts of God are various. To one is granted money, that institutions may be supported and enterprises commenced. To another the power of speech, that he may "speak to the people all the words of this life." To another a persuasive manner, a winning smile, the grace of hospitality. These are so many talents of which the Master will exact an account. bier will the question turn so much on actual accomplishment as on the ratio of abilities to results.
III. AN ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF DEPENDENCE UPON THE HELP OF GOD. His speech would sound like the utterance of self confidence and presumption did there not run through it a tone of devout thanksgiving, which removes the charge of boastfulness and reveals the source of his assurance. The Lord had kept him alive, and if the Lord were with him he would soon drive out the giants from their strongholds. When David essayed to fight the Philistine he reasoned from past experience. "The Lord that delivered me... bear, will deliver me from... Philistine." The same succour is assured to all Christian warriors. We want this mingled dependence and confidence. "If God be for us, who can be against us?" The commission, "Go therefore, preach the gospel to all nations," was preceded by the announcement, "All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth." Can we complain of tribulation and distress? "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors;" they do but heighten the victory we gain, "through Him that loved us." - A.
among the children of Judah" (Joshua 15:13), which suggests that though settled amongst them he was not really of them, many have, with considerable probability, concluded that Caleb was a proselyte. One of those who, like Heber the Kenite, threw in his lot with Israel - perhaps a Midianitish youth who attached himself to Moses - and by force of faith, energy, and wisdom commended himself for any service of special difficulty. Whatever his origin, he was one of the twelve prominent men chosen to survey the land and report on the best method of invasion. The result of that expedition was, unfortunately, a unanimous testimony to the excellence of the land, but an all but unanimous testimony to the impossibility of taking it. Ten out of twelve declared its conquest impossible. Two only - Caleb and Joshua - asserted its practicability. They were too brave and too believing to yield to despair. They reckoned on more than natural probabilities, arguing, "The Lord is with us; and their defence is departed from them." But overborne by the numbers of those on the other side, and by the unbelief of the crowd, they can only grieve over what they cannot avert. And Israel turns back to the wilderness - where the carcases of all the grown men except these two fall before they next approach to Canaan. Now he reappears after the conquest of the land to ask the fulfilment of the promise made by Moses to him. This district of Hebron was consecrated by early recollections of Abraham. The Amorites, though driven out from the city temporarily, are still in possession of the mountains about Hebron. Full of the old heroic fire, Caleb asks for a land still in the hands of enemies. Joshua grants it, and the Lord gives it him. And the land which saw his courage became his inheritance for generations. Let us consider a few features of this story in Numbers 13. and 14., and Joshua 14. and 15.
I. First observe - THERE IS NEED FOR GOOD MEN IN SUBORDINATE AS WELL AS IN EXALTED STATION. Caleb is not over all Israel, not even prince of Judah. Only a spy - he is a man of eminence, but not of the highest. He fills a humbler place which some would have thought not worth while adorning. But, in addition to integrity and service in those at the head of the State, you want righteousness and courage throughout all classes of it. Had they had twelve Calebs for spies the land would have been theirs forty years before it was. As it was, the heroism of Caleb and Joshua was not wasted. Their testimony remained, inspiring wanderings; round it the purpose of the nation crystallised. Their testimony of the possibility, of conquering Canaan, helped to create the possibility. Their faith was a leaven that took forty years to do it, but ultimately leavened the whole lump. In whatever station we be, remember, there is need for faith, energy, and service, and there is reward for the exercise of these in the lowly as well as in the lofty sphere.
II. Secondly observe - GODLINESS BEGETS MANLINESS OF THE NOBLEST KIND. What a charm there is in manliness, in its vigour, its honesty, in its fortitude and daring. What worth is in the manliness that dares to differ from friends, as well as to defy foes. The happy union of strength and spirit, which knows not fear nor halting. Besides the charm and worth, there is great joy in it as well. It feels no dread or dismay. It enjoys the leisure of the lofty nature, and its quickening sell respect. "Add to your faith manliness," says Peter. Courage to avow and to obey your faith. Most failures in conduct are preceded by failures in courage. To face duty as well as danger requires hardihood of spirit. Now observe the magnificent manliness of Caleb. It gleams through his report as a spy. It is apparent in this choice of the as yet unconquered territory. It comes out in the energy of his old age. And this simple quality in one man was of incalculable service to Israel. We all need this quality, men and women,
"Our doubts are traitors, III. Thirdly observe - THE GREAT REWARDS OF CONSECRATION. That manliness was its own magnificent reward, as it produced an expansion of nature, which would be immortal. But there were besides, special rewards. (a) Accurate light. Good judgment grew from it. Knowledge of the possible, a grand self measurement, in which no vanity exaggerated nor dismay diminished powers marked him. "A good understanding have all they that love Thy law." Walk with God and the light in which you walk will illumine common as well as sacred things. (b) Providential mercies attend him. With Joshua, he is only man who has length of days sufficiently given ]aim to lead from Egypt to Canaan. Natural influences of devotion tend to preserve life, and they were in his case intensified by special providence. It may be said with all reverence and truth devotion saves numberless lives by preserving men from worry, folly, brooding, and needless quarrelling. God never fails to set His seal on goodness. "Corruption wins not more than honesty." (c) Justice is done him in the judgment of his fellows. When he protested against the evil report of the other spies the people "sought to stone him with stones." But now all the princes of Judah are proud to come with him to support his prayer! He has the opportunity of justifying himself and his report, and he does it grandly. (d) THE PLACE WHERE HIS FAITH TRIUMPHED OVER FEAR BECOMES THE PLACE OF HIS INHERITANCE. He believed Hebron could be won. He has liberty to win it and permission to keep it for himself when it is won. It had fallen to his lot to survey that district especially, and although three tribes of giants were there, yet he was fearless. That fastness against which his valour would have led his brethren becomes his own possession. Not only his in title and grant, but his in possession. Is there not something typical here? All things that threaten and oppose become serviceable when we face them bravely. That which threatens to destroy becomes a quiet resting-place and peaceable habitation. The enemies become the servants, the hindrances the helps, terrors change to fountains of refreshment. Let us be braver, refusing to despair, and refusing to shrink from difficulty. The same Saviour rules now as then, calls us to noble, and therefore difficult, duties. There are lots of children of Anak still; fear them, and you doom yourself to wilderness wanderings and a dishonourable grave. Meet them, and you conquer them easily. Shame and reproach for Christ are children of Anak; the fear of falling is another; a corrupting taste and an indolent inclination is another. Christ has grand rewards and blessed helps for such as face these. As to Caleb, so always, He gives ultimate inheritance and present rewards. Let us not miss these, but seek to secure them with all our heart. - G.
III. Thirdly observe - THE GREAT REWARDS OF CONSECRATION. That manliness was its own magnificent reward, as it produced an expansion of nature, which would be immortal. But there were besides, special rewards.
(a) Accurate light. Good judgment grew from it. Knowledge of the possible, a grand self measurement, in which no vanity exaggerated nor dismay diminished powers marked him. "A good understanding have all they that love Thy law." Walk with God and the light in which you walk will illumine common as well as sacred things.
(b) Providential mercies attend him. With Joshua, he is only man who has length of days sufficiently given ]aim to lead from Egypt to Canaan. Natural influences of devotion tend to preserve life, and they were in his case intensified by special providence. It may be said with all reverence and truth devotion saves numberless lives by preserving men from worry, folly, brooding, and needless quarrelling. God never fails to set His seal on goodness. "Corruption wins not more than honesty."
(c) Justice is done him in the judgment of his fellows. When he protested against the evil report of the other spies the people "sought to stone him with stones." But now all the princes of Judah are proud to come with him to support his prayer! He has the opportunity of justifying himself and his report, and he does it grandly.
(d) THE PLACE WHERE HIS FAITH TRIUMPHED OVER FEAR BECOMES THE PLACE OF HIS INHERITANCE. He believed Hebron could be won. He has liberty to win it and permission to keep it for himself when it is won. It had fallen to his lot to survey that district especially, and although three tribes of giants were there, yet he was fearless. That fastness against which his valour would have led his brethren becomes his own possession. Not only his in title and grant, but his in possession. Is there not something typical here? All things that threaten and oppose become serviceable when we face them bravely. That which threatens to destroy becomes a quiet resting-place and peaceable habitation. The enemies become the servants, the hindrances the helps, terrors change to fountains of refreshment. Let us be braver, refusing to despair, and refusing to shrink from difficulty. The same Saviour rules now as then, calls us to noble, and therefore difficult, duties. There are lots of children of Anak still; fear them, and you doom yourself to wilderness wanderings and a dishonourable grave. Meet them, and you conquer them easily. Shame and reproach for Christ are children of Anak; the fear of falling is another; a corrupting taste and an indolent inclination is another. Christ has grand rewards and blessed helps for such as face these. As to Caleb, so always, He gives ultimate inheritance and present rewards. Let us not miss these, but seek to secure them with all our heart. - G.
I. REST FROM WAR IS ONE OF THE GREATEST EARTHLY BLESSINGS. Even if war be a necessity it is a fearful necessity. Rarely are the advantages of a successful war equal to the cost of it. Rest from war affords occasion
(1) for the undisturbed enjoyment of the fruits of the earth and unbroken social and domestic life;
(2) for the practice of peaceful works - the cultivation of science, art, and literature;
(3) for progress in political institutions and the development of civilisation;
(4) for the extension of benevolent efforts and of the missionary work of the Church. Therefore peace should be sought for in prayer and enjoyed with gratitude.
II. UNIVERSAL REST FROM WAR WILL BE ONE OF THE CHIEF FRUITS OF THE TRIUMPH OF THE GOSPEL. Christ is the Prince of Peace. The Messianic age is prophetically described as an age of peace (Isaiah 11:6-9; Luke 2:14). We must look to Christianity for the means of abolishing war, because this only can conquer
(1) the injustice,
(2) the ambition, and
(3) the unruly passions which are the causes of most wars.
War can only cease when right and justice are respected by nations and the brotherhood of all mankind is universally recognised. These are moral conditions. Education, trade conventions, political schemes will not produce them. They are the highest fruits of Christian principle.
III. SPIRITUAL REST FROM INWARD WARFARE IS SECURED TO THE CHRISTIAN BY CHRIST.
(1) The Christian must first fight against indwelling sin, temptation, the evil of the world (1 Timothy 6:12). Earth is our battle-field; heaven our Canaan of rest.
(2) The Christian will be aided by Christ fighting for him and in him. Jesus is the New Testament Joshua. He has conquered the great enemy. He is the source of His people's strength for that inward battle which all must fight.
(3) By the grace of Christ the Christian will ultimately enjoy "rest from war." This is promise
(a) for the individual Christian in heaven (Hebrews 4:9),
(b) for the whole human family at the time of the complete triumph of Christ (Isaiah 2:4). - W.F.A.
The Pulpit Commentary, Electronic Database.
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