Pioneer Spirit

Caleb cut his teeth in the wilderness. He was one of twelve men chosen for a reconnaissance mission in Canaan. More to the point, he was one of only two spies who actually had faith that God could and would do what He said, and lead the people of Israel into the promised land. He possessed the courage not only to stand against the majority report of the other ten spies, but to later go against all of Israel when they were ready to reverse course and return to Egypt. There can be a fine line between being steadfast and stubborn and Caleb had a mega-dose of the pioneer spirit that God’s people are always in need of.

But all of that happened quite early in Israel’s wilderness experience—probably sometime in their second year after leaving Egypt. We’ve all known people whose allegiance diminished or disintegrated entirely over time. You have wonder what effect almost forty years of the wilderness and watching the entire generation of his peers pass away would have on Caleb’s faith.

The answer is: not much.

When the land of Canaan was being distributed, Caleb went before Joshua with his request. He was 85 years old. He didn’t ask for a comfortable retirement parcel where all of his needs would be provided for. He asked for the hill country.

Military Strategy 101 says that attempting to conquer hill country can be a formidable task for anyone at any age. It’s difficult to capture because you have to attack uphill and your opponent can see you coming. This particular hill country also had fortified cities and large people defending it (the Anakites).

None of this stopped Caleb or even slowed him down. I love the fact that Joshua apparently didn’t even blink at Caleb’s bold request. He’d served with him for 45 years. He knew exactly what to expect.

And Caleb didn’t let him down.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)

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