Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, "We must go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly conquer it!"
temporary effacement, as it were, of Moses. It is Caleb who here takes the lead. Moses is nothing save as the mouth-piece of God, and the time is not quite ripe for God to speak. But Caleb, who, here as afterwards, shows himself a courageous man, prompt and ready, has formed his opinion, and at once expresses it; to be immediately followed by opinions just as decided in the opposite direction. We need not here so much to consider who was right and who wrong; God himself brings all out presently into the clearest of light. The great matter to be noticed is that the people were now exposed to conflicting counsels.
I. THESE CONFLICTING COUNSELS WERE THE CONSEQUENCE OF BACKSLIDING FROM GOD. The people had turned away from their true Guide, and the consequence of being in a wrong path very soon appears. God is one, and in his infinite wisdom and power can make all things work together for good to them that love him, and are called according to his purpose. But men are many and diverse, and if those who are called according to his purpose fad from the obedience which shows their love, how shall they make things work together for good? To God the scheme of human affairs is as a machine, complicated and intricate indeed, but well under control, and producing large results. To men it is, more or less, a maze of motions. They understand it a little in parts, but are hopelessly divided as to the meaning and service of the whole.
II. THE PREPONDERANCE IN THESE CONFLICTING COUNSELS WAS AGAINST THE COURSE WHICH GOD HAD ALREADY LAID OUT. God had promised the land, kept it before the people, and brought them to the very verge; yet ten out of twelve men - responsible men in the tribes, men who had journeyed through the land for forty days - declared that it was beyond the strength of Israel to obtain. What a satire on vox populi vox Dei! What a humbling revelation of the motives that work most powerfully in unregenerate human nature I How easy it is to exaggerate difficulties when one's heart is not in a work; to see, not everything that is to be seen, but only what the eye wants to see, and to see in a particular way! It is a part of spiritual prudence to reckon that, whatever strength there may be in mere numbers, in brute force and material appliances, they cannot be counted on in advancing the kingdom of God. With all these resources heaped up around them, craven spirits will still cry out that there is a lion in the way.
III. IT IS EVERYTHING TO RECOLLECT THAT THERE WERE CONFLICTING COUNSELS. Cowardice, carnality, and backsliding did not altogether get their own way. Things were bad enough, but after all Caleb and Joshua counted for a great deal on the other side. We must not only count men, but weigh them. There are times when it is no credit to men, when it says but little for their piety or their humanity, that they are found among majorities. It is the glory of God's cause on earth that it never loses its hold on at least a few. There is always a Caleb to fling to the wind considerations of base expediency. - Y.
I. The passage serves to illustrate THE BELIEVER'S DUTY IN GENERAL. "Go forward." This is the command of God to His people, with reference to every obligation that devolves upon them, and at every critical moment, amidst all our difficulties we encounter from the world. Nothing but this heroism will suit the dignity and the decision of Christian character.
1. The kingdom of heaven challenges the inquiry of all men. It addresses an appeal to human reason, and to human trust. Though itself a revelation, and therefore not to be handled as a common thing, nor to be tested by common instruments, yet Christianity invites the most careful inquest. It does not seek to rest upon the human intellect as a burden, but to shine upon it as a light. ]f Christianity may be represented under the image of a land, such as ancient Canaan, then it is fair to say of it, that it offers right of way over its hills and through its valleys, that its fruits and flowers are placed at the disposal of all travellers, and that he who complains that the land is shut against him speaks not only ungratefully but most falsely.
Let us go up at once, and possess it.
Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.I. IN WHAT RESPECTS THE ANCIENT CANAAN WAS A TYPE OF HEAVEN.
1. It was a promised land, and the right of possession was founded on the promise.
2. It was a land in which God was peculiarly present.
3. It was a land of fruition.
4. It was a free gift.
II. THE ISRAELITES HAD DANGERS, DIFFICULTIES, AND DISCOURAGEMENTS IN THE WILDERNESS, IN THEIR WAY TO CANAAN; SO HAVE CHRISTIANS IN THEIR PROGRESS TO HEAVEN.
1. There are formidable foes to be encountered. The corrupt heart, the evil world, and that apostate spirit, the devil.
2. There are adversaries in timid and faint-hearted associates.
3. The Israelites in their progress were made dependent on the Lord for all things.
III. THE RESOLUTION — "LET US GO UP AT ONCE, AND POSSESS IT."
1. The title to it is sure. It is pledged in Christ; as heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. He is our Joshua and is gone to take possession for us.
2. We have means and ordinances by which needed strength is supplied, and we are invited and enjoined to feed in the spiritual manner, and to drink of the spiritual rock.
3. Here we have many foretastes of the good land.
(Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)
2. Different reports will, of course, be brought by the inquirers. The result of the survey will be according to the peculiarities of the surveyors. As streams are impregnated by the soils over which they flow, so subjects are affected by the individualism of the minds through which they pass. Thus Christianity may be said to be different things to different minds. To the speculative man it is a great attempt to solve deep problems in theology; to the controversialist it is a challenge to debate profound subjects on new ground; to the poet it is a dream, a wondrous vision many-coloured as the rainbow, a revelation many-voiced as the tunes of the wind or the harmonies of the sea.(1) Some inquirers will see all the hindrances.(2) All will confess that there is something good in the laud.(3) Those who hold back by reason of the difficulties will come to a miserable end.
(a) (b) 1. Some have shown the spirit of Caleb — what is voter testimony? 2. Will you resolve, in Divine strength, to follow the Lord fully? (J. Parker, D. D.)
(b) 1. Some have shown the spirit of Caleb — what is voter testimony? 2. Will you resolve, in Divine strength, to follow the Lord fully? (J. Parker, D. D.)
1. Some have shown the spirit of Caleb — what is voter testimony?
2. Will you resolve, in Divine strength, to follow the Lord fully?
(J. Parker, D. D.)
II. The passage serves to illustrate THE MORE SPECIAL DUTY OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD WITH REFERENCE TO MISSIONARY EXERTION. And that I conceive to be one of the pressing duties of the Church of Christ in the present day.
(W. H. Cooper.)
2. He seeks to secure unity of faith. "Let us go up."
3. Promptness. "At once."
4. He directs their minds to their ability.Conclusion: The world belongs to Christ by creation and by preservation. In God's name the Church may claim Christ's prerogative for the conquest of the world.
(W. Mudge.)I. GOD HATH EVER HAD SOME WITNESSES OF HIS TRUTH Nicodemus. Joseph of Arimathea. And how can it be otherwise, for the truth shall never decay from the earth, but be spread abroad from place to place, and from generation to generation for ever (Psalm 119:89). We perish, for all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man is as the flower of the field, but the word of the Lord abideth for ever (1 Peter 1:24). God will have this never to die, never to wither. He hath the hearts of all men in His own hand, to turn them at His pleasure (Acts 9:15). So saith Christ, "I tell you if these should hold their peace, the stones would cry" (Luke 19:40), and therefore He can never be without some witness to maintain His truth.
2. Great is His truth and prevaileth; He hath always had a Church upon the face of the earth, and He never forsaketh it, though multitudes conspire against it, it shall have the upper hand at last.
3. Be not discouraged when the truth is oppressed, because God is able to maintain it, and raiseth up His enemies oftentimes to defend it.
4. This should persuade every one of us how to carry ourselves, namely, that we should not take any approbation or liking of the evil of other, neither ought we to imitate any in sin, how holy soever they seem to be, neither give consent to them by our practice, forasmuch as God's hand hath overtaken them at one time or other.
II. THE EVIL OF OTHERS, YEA, ALTHOUGH THEY BE MANY, MAY NOT RE FOLLOWED OF US. The reasons.
1. Whatsoever is in itself evil cannot be made good and lawful by any example, nor by many examples. It cannot be warranted by the law of man, much less by the pure law of God Himself.
2. No greatness, no multitude can save a man from judgments due to the least sin; for though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not go unpunished (Proverbs 5; Proverbs 11:21). This serveth to reprove many carnal and formal Christians that oftentimes encourage themselves in evil, and strengthen themselves by the example of others.
3. We may gather from hence a reproof of ignorant recusants grounding only upon their forefathers; such as can give no other reason of their religion but that they were born and bred in it (Psalm 78:8).
III. IT IS THE DUTY: OF GOD'S CHILDREN TO EXHORT AND STIR UP ONE ANOTHER TO GOOD THINGS. And that for divers reasons.
1. We are quickly hardened in sin. We are quickly dull to all good; exhortation made by others setteth an edge upon us, and putteth life into us (Proverbs 27:17).
2. Such as continue to the end are made partakers of Christ, and with Him of all other graces; this ought to provoke us to practise this duty, the rather seeing so great fruit cometh by it, the blessing of all blessings, Christ Jesus is made ours (Hebrews 3:13, 14).
3. We have other reasons used by the same apostle (Hebrews 10:25, 26). Fearful judgments remain for all backsliders.
4. The day of the Lord draweth near, and we must take heed that it take us not unprepared; we must therefore stir up ourselves and others to look for it and to long after it. Lastly, we see evil men do it in evil and to evil. They labour by all means to make others as bad as themselves. This also we see in this place, much more therefore ought we to teach and instruct one another, and be helpers to the most holy faith one of another.
(D. L. Moody.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)
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