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Lesson 2: Caleb: Living With the Wait *

Introduction: The Jewish people left Egypt and slavery and began a journey for freedom and property ownership in Canaan, the wonderful land God promised to them. The trip to Canaan took only about 15 months. Put yourself in their place. What would be your attitude if you were God's people? What questions would you have about the land? What expectations would you have? Would you be grateful for this opportunity? Let's jump into our study and find out what happens to Caleb and his fellow travelers!

  1. Spies

    1. Read Numbers 13:17-20. Moses sends out spies into Canaan. What do these instructions to the spies reveal about the thinking of Moses? (He is thinking about the coming military operation, and the quality of the prize.)

      1. Why bring back some fruit? (So, the rest of the people would have actual evidence of the fertility of the land.)

      2. Read Deuteronomy 7:17-21 and Deuteronomy 8:7-9. These are statements made by Moses to God's people while they were still crossing the desert towards Canaan. What do these statements add to your evaluation of Moses' thinking in sending the spies? (God had already told Moses how the conquest would take place and He told him about the quality of the land. Moses is either seeking to confirm God's promise or he is showing a lack of faith.)

    2. Read the spies' report in Numbers 13:26-29. Is this a good news, bad news report?

      1. Had God warned them about the bad news? (Yes!)

      2. What was God's solution to these large warriors? (Read again Deuteronomy 7:20.)

        1. What do you find significant about the fact that God promised that He would use an insect to drive out the giants?

  2. Reactions to the Spies Report

    1. Read Numbers 13:30. What does the fact that Caleb had to silence the people tell us? (That the report created a great stir among the people.)

      1. What do you think about Caleb's faith?

        1. What do you think about Caleb's failure to mention the hornet?

    2. Read Numbers 13:31-33. How did the majority of the spies view themselves? (They were like grasshoppers compared to the giants in the land.)

      1. What is a grasshopper? (An insect.)

        1. Why did the people not compare themselves to another insect - a hornet? Or, at least start thinking about the nature of God's proposed solution to the problem?

    3. Read Numbers 14:1-4. If you were God, how would you react to all of this? (I would throw up my hands in disgust. Even Caleb is talking about "we" taking possession. No one is talking about the God factor in this conquest.)

      1. Was Egypt stronger than the Israelites? (Yes! Nothing had changed when it came to their opponents - other than the Canaanites were likely larger than the Egyptians, but probably less sophisticated in warfare.)

    4. Read Numbers 14:5-9. Finally, we see that Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb explicitly present the God factor! What motivated the people to lose faith? (Fear.)

      1. Look again at Numbers 14:9. Is being fearful rebellion against God?

    5. Read Numbers 14:10. Are the people simply motivated by fear? (Their fear causes them to be angry and frustrated. They want to kill someone - and they talk of stoning Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb.)

      1. What logic lies behind stoning your leaders as opposed to stoning the Canaanites?

        1. Is this kind of illogical behavior a problem in churches today?

      2. Comment on the difference between the life of faith and the life of fear.

    6. Read Numbers 14:11-12. How does God view the fear, anger and frustration of His people? (He says the people are showing contempt towards His power.)

      1. Has anyone ever shown contempt toward you? How did it feel?

        1. Have you ever shown contempt towards God because of your fear, anger and frustration?

  3. Defeat

    1. Moses intercedes for the people. Read Numbers 14:20-25. Do the people get what they ask for? (Read Numbers 14:28. God gives them what they request.)

      1. What makes the fear of the people so upsetting to God? (They have seen the power of God repeatedly! They have rebelled against God repeatedly.)

      2. If you were Caleb, what would you say?

    2. Read Numbers 14:39-45. What life lessons do we learn here?

  4. Forty Years Later

    1. Read Joshua 14:6-10. How would you view your life if you were Caleb? The first 39 years you were a slave. Then, for 15 months you were on a mission to enter the promised land. The next 45 years you were wandering aimlessly in the desert.

      1. Would you think that you deserved this?

      2. Would you have lost your drive?

    2. Read Joshua 14:11-12. What has happened to Caleb's drive? (Strong as ever!)

      1. What is the significance of Caleb requesting the "hill country?" (This is the most difficult land to conquer from a human point of view. The Anakites were the giants. They had large and fortified cities.)

      2. What impact does age have on you? As you get older, are you still up for major faith battles?

        1. Read Psalms 92:12-15. What does God promise to older people who are righteous and still willing to work? (God says they will stay "fresh and green." This suggests that obedience to God and remaining active helps us to be youthful.)

    3. Read Joshua 14:13-15. When the text says that Joshua gave Caleb Hebron (the land where the giants lived), how did that work? Did Caleb bring his land title (signed by Joshua) to the home of the leader of the giants and tell the leader he now had legal title and that the giants had thirty days to vacate the premises? (No, Caleb had to defeat the giants to take their land. They were not going willingly.)

      1. Have you ever thought about the influence of your life. What influence do you think Caleb had the people of God as they approached Canaan for a second time? (He was absolutely inspirational! The "old guy" says "Give me the land of the biggest, most terrifying guys so we can conquer their land!")

    4. Read Judges 1:9-13. Why do you think that Caleb chose his future son-in-law in this way? (Caleb had wasted forty years of his life because of the influence of people who lacked the courage to trust God. He did not want that to be part of his family legacy.)

    5. Read Judges 1:14-15. Acsah is now moving from the camp of her father to go to that of her husband, Othniel. What does she want Othniel to do? (Ask her father for a field that has available water.)

      1. Why do you think Othniel does not do this? (He might think that would seem greedy. He is the new son-in-law.)

      2. As Acsah is moving out of her father's house, she jumps off her donkey and comes to her father. Getting off your mount to talk to someone is a sign of respect. Caleb thinks that she wants something. Fathers, just as your daughter is leaving the house has she ever asked you for money? (Some things do not change.)

      3. Compare what Acsah requests with what she gets? (She asked for a land with springs of water, and Caleb gives her both the upper and lower springs. He gives her more than she asks.)

        1. What does this show us about the character of Caleb?

    6. Friend, do you trust God in times of extreme pressure? Have you considered the influence of your life, particularly when things become difficult? Will you determine to be like Caleb, a man who encouraged faith in God and who had a fearless resolve to do great things for God?

  5. Next week: Hannah: Learning to Be Someone.
* Copr. 2010, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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