TEXT: Joshua 14:6-13; Numbers 13:17-33
The students will be able to use the example of Caleb to explain that benefits will come to those who follow the Lord wholeheartedly.
Caleb was the son of Jephunneh, the Kenezite, the prince of Judah who represented his tribe among the twelve chief men whom Moses sent from the wilderness of Paran to spy out the land. Most of the spies brought back a pessimistic report. Their names are almost forgotten. But two heroes of faith, Caleb and Joshua, who encouraged the people to go up and take the land, are still remembered. Caleb was 40 years old when the spies were sent. At the age of 85, at the distribution of the land of Canaan, he asked for Hebron and the hill country where lived the fearful Anakim who had terrorized ten of the spies, and Joshua gave it to him because “he wholly followed the Lord God of Israel.” Caleb and Joshua were the only two original adult members of the tribes permitted to go into the Promised Land. Later Caleb became father-in-law of Othniel, the first of the judges, by giving him Achsah his daughter.
In Abraham’s day, the city of Hebron was called Kirjath Arba. It was named after Arba, the ancestor of the Anakim, a race of giant men who lived in the area.
The city of Hebron still exists today, resting in a high valley about 25 miles southwest of Jerusalem. The nearby valleys are rich in fruits and vegetables of all kinds including figs, melons, grapes, pomegranates, and plums.
In 1 Corinthians 10:1-15 the apostle Paul recounts some of the things that happened to the Israelites because of their unbelief, disobedience, murmuring, etc. These things were written as a warning to us that we might not be caught in a similar snare of Satan. It is encouraging to read of a man who lived among these people, and yet retained his purpose to walk with the Lord! We, too, can be kept by the power of God if, like Caleb, we determine to wholly follow the Lord.
- Caleb was one of a group of men who had been selected as spies for Israel. Ten of the spies told of a good land, but felt that the land would be impossible to take. What did Caleb say? See Numbers 13:30; 14:6-9.
Response: Caleb said, “Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it” (Numbers 13:30). After someone gives the answer, discuss with the students both sides of the situation. Help the students realize that even though in the natural, things look impossible, if God promises something He will see that they receive it. The promise is contingent on their faith and trust in Him.
- Whom did the Children of Israel choose to believe? What was the result? See Numbers 14:1-4,33-34.
Response: They believed the evil report, and as a result had to remain in the wilderness for forty years. This might be a point where you would wish to ask for examples, bringing out how, even in our day, there are positive results if a person believes God and puts that belief into action. Disbelief will bring negative results!
- What promise was made to Caleb and why? See Numbers 14:24.
Response: Caleb was promised that he would go into the land and that his seed would possess it because he had followed the Lord “wholly.” Direct students’ attention to the word wholly, and help them consider what that word means in this context. Then relate their conclusions to how they must follow God.
- How old was Caleb when Moses sent him to spy out the land of Canaan and how old was he when he came to Joshua to receive his inheritance?
Response: In Joshua 14:7,10 we read that Caleb was 40 when he was promised his inheritance, and 85 when he claimed it. The point of this question is to discuss with your students the fact that the reward for belief may not always be immediate. Caleb had to hold on in faith for 45 years. Ask your students to cite some examples from their own experience when an answer to prayer was delayed but did come eventually.
- What did Caleb have to say of his own physical strength?
Response: Joshua 14:11 shows that Caleb was still strong and vigorous. The point could be made that his unabated physical strength was one of the blessings God gave because Caleb trusted in Him. Ask students to discuss some of the benefits that are promised to the one who trusts God.
- What had the ten spies said about the people who lived in the area Caleb desired? See Numbers 13:33.
Response: They said there were giants. Your students’ responses to this question should lead you directly into the following question.
- Before we come into our inheritance we face many “giants” today. Name some.
Response: The students’ list may include: persecution, trials, physical afflictions, monetary setbacks, accusations, or false brethren. After allowing time for students to give their responses to this question, discuss the various ways one could respond to the “giants” they mentioned.
- We can use Caleb’s “secret weapon” against the giants and their fenced cities that we face. What was the secret weapon?
Response: You may have various answers to this question. Accept answers, and then point out that many of these can be weapons used to fight battles in their daily lives. Direct students to the key verse; Caleb’s “secret weapon” was that he “wholly followed the Lord.”
- Explain the difference between the words holy and wholly.
Response: Holy — “pure.” Wholly — “completely.” It might be interesting to discuss what relationship these two words have to each other. Can they follow the Lord “wholly” without being “holy”? Can they be “holy” and not be “wholly” His?
- List some things one must do to wholly follow the Lord. Be specific!
Response: Some possible suggestions offered may be complete obedience, denial of self, submission, keeping a humble attitude, and willing service. As each idea is offered, help your students zero in on how their daily lives will be affected if they do these things.
To show examples of the two words with the same sound, bring a piece of paper with holes in it and a piece of paper without holes. Use these to explain the “whole” that God wants us to be like.
For a current-day example of following the Lord, rehearse the story told in the book, “In His Steps,” for your students. This man’s story shows the results of applying this principle to the everyday affairs of our lives.
Caleb’s reward for wholly following the Lord was the mountain he requested as an inheritance for him and his children. With your class, make a list of benefits or rewards we will receive in this life or in the hereafter if we wholly follow God. Then use this list to make an acrostic with your group.
Cut a large heart from construction paper. Mark the heart into a number of pieces, marking each piece with something in our lives that should be consecrated to God. Some possibilities: time, finances, family, plans for future, friends, recreational activities. Cut apart the puzzle and then reassemble it with your students to illustrate the importance of a “wholehearted” commitment to Christ.