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Sabbath School Lessons on Background Characters in the Old Testament
About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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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!
- 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.)
- Why bring back some fruit? (So, the rest of the
people would have actual evidence of the fertility
of the land.)
- 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.)
- Read the spies' report in Numbers 13:26-29. Is this a
good news, bad news report?
- Had God warned them about the bad news? (Yes!)
- What was God's solution to these large warriors?
(Read again Deuteronomy 7:20.)
- What do you find significant about the fact
that God promised that He would use an insect
to drive out the giants?
- Reactions to the Spies Report
- 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.)
- What do you think about Caleb's faith?
- What do you think about Caleb's failure to
mention the hornet?
- 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.)
- What is a grasshopper? (An insect.)
- 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?
- 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
- 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
- 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.)
- Look again at Numbers 14:9. Is being fearful
rebellion against God?
- 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.)
- What logic lies behind stoning your leaders as
opposed to stoning the Canaanites?
- Is this kind of illogical behavior a problem in
- Comment on the difference between the life of faith
and the life of fear.
- 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.)
- Has anyone ever shown contempt toward you? How did
- Have you ever shown contempt towards God
because of your fear, anger and frustration?
- 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.)
- 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.)
- If you were Caleb, what would you say?
- Read Numbers 14:39-45. What life lessons do we learn
- Forty Years Later
- 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
- Would you think that you deserved this?
- Would you have lost your drive?
- Read Joshua 14:11-12. What has happened to Caleb's drive?
(Strong as ever!)
- 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
- What impact does age have on you? As you get older,
are you still up for major faith battles?
- 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
- 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
- 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!")
- 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.)
- 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.)
- Why do you think Othniel does not do this? (He might
think that would seem greedy. He is the new son-in-law.)
- 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
- 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.)
- What does this show us about the character of
- 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
- 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.