Moses sent 12 spies into the promised land to scout it out. All 12 agreed it was a good land, just as God had said, but only two agreed with God that the Israelites could take the land. Joshua and Caleb were those two spies who believed God. I have always loved the symmetry and balance in Scripture, the fact that everything has a purpose and is illustrative to us of some spiritual truth. Because of that, for a long time I had a hard time figuring out what Caleb was all about.
I could understand Joshua being a picture of Jesus. (In fact, Joshua is the Hebrew name, Jesus.) The law (Moses) can never lead us into the fullness that God has for His people (the promised land). Only Jesus can lead us into that just like Joshua led the people into Israel. But how does Caleb fit into this picture God was giving? He was a man of faith like Joshua but he melts into the background of the story. He brings a faithful report of the land but then we don’t hear from him for 45 years until he wants the inheritance Moses promised.
Joshua leads the armies of Israel, hangs out with Moses and leads the conquest into Canaan. Why do not we not hear from Caleb until it is time to receive the inheritance that Joshua (Jesus) won for God’s people? What’s up with Caleb? Why does Joshua get top billing and Caleb just goes along quietly in the shadows? Why two faithful spies instead of just one?
Joshua 14:14 gives us an answer:
Therefore, Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite until this day, because he followed the LORD God of Israel fully.
“Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite”. Caleb’s father was a Kenizzite, a gentile! Caleb was a gentile who chose to follow the God of Israel like his father apparently did.
How beautiful! Caleb represents you and me, and all non-Jewish believers. When God was giving his promised inheritance to his people Israel, he had a godly man among them to remind them that God also loves the Gentiles. God has a place in His kingdom for all people, Jew or Gentile, who follow “the LORD God of Israel fully.” Joshua (Jesus) leads us into the promise of God but it is not just the Jews that inherit the promise, Caleb reminds us it has always been God’s plan to include all mankind in the promise.
The Jews often refer to the Gentiles as “dogs”. Guess what. According to many Biblical dictionaries, Caleb is Hebrew for “dog” and Caleb was sent as a spy representing the tribe of Judah, from which Jesus the Messiah is a descendant. Caleb’s presence shouts God’s love for all us non-Jewish “dogs”. We have a place in God’s promised land!
John 10:15, 16
I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.
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