Hebron Given to Caleb
6 Now the men of Judah approached Joshua at Gilgal, and Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know what the LORD said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me. 7 I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, 8 but my brothers who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt with fear. I, however, followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly. 9 So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly.’
10 “Now then, just as the LORD promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the desert. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! 11 I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then.12 Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.”
13 Then Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave him Hebron as his inheritance. 14 So Hebron has belonged to Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite ever since, because he followed the LORD, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly. 15 (Hebron used to be called Kiriath Arba after Arba, who was the greatest man among the Anakites.) Then the land had rest from war.
Privilege Vs. Obligation
Besides God, there are two primary characters throughout this stage of Israel’s history: obviously Joshua is one of them, and the other is Caleb. Caleb is one of the spies who enters the Promised Land – all the other spies gave reports of giants and fortified cities and how it would be impossible to take this land, but Caleb stuns everyone by bluntly saying that they should enter the land because they can do it. No one listens to him, and they are forced to wander the wilderness once more.
Here we find Caleb again, but many many years after that amazing show of faith and courage. Here, he is an 85-year old geriatric, one of two faithful surviving members of Isreal, about to receive his inheritance for this life of faithfulness. We assume that because he has done so much already, he would just choose a nice quiet plot of land to rest and relax. But instead, he chooses the hills of Hebron, populated by giants in fortified cities, to continue to serve God and his people! The guy will just not quit!
There are two wonderful encouragements we can take away from Caleb’s example. First, that you can never do enough for God! We often have this mentality, where we did something good, leading a Bible study, helping a friend through a tough time, volunteering with the poor. And then something else comes up, and we think, “Come ON…Haven’t I done enough already??” We feel we’ve earned our rest and respite by our previous good deeds and can just sit in the plot of land we earned. But imagine if God had that same mentality, if he had said, “What, they need more from me? A beautiful creation and provision isn’t enough? Now they want salvation?? No, I think I’ve earned the right to say ‘no'”…That’s not what we see in our God, but instead, continued and unending faithfulness. God never takes a vacation from our lives…why should we?
This may seem harsh and unrelenting, but the second encouragement comes from Caleb’s mentality. Notice that God never directly asked him to do this…it was Caleb’s choice. He wanted to do more, he wanted to serve, he wanted to live the rest of his days in service to God…it was his privilege. And it is that mentality that propels him, even in his very old age, to seek out Hebron. The reason we have get so burned out by serving is that often we see it as an obligation, that we have to do this or that. But this is the wrong mentality to have, as it is an unequaled privilege to serve God!
The closest analogy I can imagine is one from sports, that we are a bench player on the greatest team with the greatest coach (if it helps to imagine the Redskins, be my guest). When the coach calls us up to play in the Super Bowl, we do not think to ourselves, “Man, this guy always wants me to do stuff for him!” No, we pray for and even jump at the chance to play. When God calls you out this week, don’t see it as a burden – you’re being called by the King of Kings to participate in his plan of redemption – THAT is the very definition of a privilege.
1. Have you ever felt this way, resentful or burdened by something God was calling you to do?
2. One justification for not helping or serving is that we need time for ourselves, for our studies, for our work, for our own rest. While easy to understand, what do you think is wrong with this mindset?
3. When was the last time you felt excited and even proud to have the chance to serve? What made that situation so different?
4. What are some practical ways you can begin to see serving God as your privilege rather than your burden?