By Henry Mahan
This series of lessons is about Old Testament pictures of Christ.
While Caleb is not what one would call a type of Christ, yet the story of Caleb's faithfulness to the Lord gives us an excellent text from which to preach Christ and his faithfulness to those who believe him.
The children of Israel encamped below Mt. Sinai for about a year; and during this time God gave them the law, tabernacle, feast days, etc. Moving across the desert with the cloud before them, they came to Kadesh-Barnea (Num. 32:8), on the edge of the desert and on the border of the land God had promised them. The Lord ordered Moses to send men to search out the land which he had given to them (Num. 13:1-20). The spies were in the land for forty days and returned, bringing fruits from the land and their report about the land and its inhabitants (Num. 13: 23-27).
All of the spies except two, Joshua and Caleb, discouraged the people from entering the land (Num. 13:31-33). Caleb and Joshua believed God; they urged the people to obey God and go into Canaan (Num. 13:30; 14:6-9).
The people would not hear these two faithful men but rather listened to the majority and would have stoned God's true servants (Num. 14:10). God turned them back to die in the wilderness. All who were over twenty years of age (except Joshua and Caleb) would never enter the land (Num. 14:24, 28- 33). It is significant to note that Caleb was of and represented the tribe of Judah, from which our faithful Redeemer came (Gen. 49:10).
1. The name Caleb means 'dog' or 'faithful dog'
I don't know why Caleb's father gave him a name which means faithful dog; a dog is a dog! But I do find that the people to whom the Lord Jesus has been merciful and to whom he has revealed his person and work are never too proud to take unto themselves the name 'dog.' Mephibosheth called himself 'a dead dog' before the mercies of David (2 Sam. 9:8). The Canaanite woman acknowledged that she was a dog before the Lord (Matt. 15:25-27).
Christ came not to call the righteous, the good, and the moral; he came to save sinners. He died for the ungodly (Rom. 5:6-8; Matt. 9:10-13). A person must be lost to be saved; he must be emptied before he is filled; he must be humbled before he is exalted. God will put us in the dust of nothingness in order that Christ may have all of the glory (1 Cor. 1:26-31). God will shut our mouths before he opens our ears to hear the good news of redemption in Christ (Rom. 3:19-24).
Men in the Scriptures, who were blessed to see the glory of God in Christ, confessed themselves to be nothing before him, yea, even dogs! (Job 42:5-6; Isa. 6:1-5; 1 Cor. 3:18).
2. What is it to follow the Lord fully
Caleb, the faithful dog, was said to have 'followed the Lord fully' (Num. 14:24, 32:12; Deut. 1:36; Josh. 14:9).
It is to follow HIM! 'My sheep hear my voice and they follow me, a stranger they will not follow.' He is their Lord and Master, and their only Master. They delight to do HIS will. 'Thy will be done.'
It is to follow him! They do not run ahead of the Lord but rather they follow him. They do not move until the cloud moves.
We dare not run ahead of his good providence but are content to 'wait on the Lord.'
It is to follow the Lord in heart! 'My son, give me thine heart.' Following the Lord is not a physical exercise but a heart relationship and experience. Paul declared, 'It is the love of Christ for me and my love for him that constrains me, motivates me, and thrills me.' There are many churches with crosses on their steeples which have long since taken the cross out of the pulpit. Our Lord said to Peter, 'If you love me, feed my sheep.' If we love him, we will! And our obedience, service, and labor are motivated by love, not fear nor covetousness.
It is to follow the Lord all the days of our lives (Josh. 14:6- 14). Caleb was forty years old when he stood firmly before Israel and urged them to believe God and take the land. Fortyfive years later he declared, 'I still believe God; give me mine inheritance.' Some follow Christ for loaves and fishes, some for miracles, and some for tradition and custom. These soon fall away but those who know, believe, and love him will follow him all the days of their lives (Col. 1:21-23; Heb. 3:6, 14).
It is to follow Christ even if we stand alone (Num. 14:10).
Even when all the congregation refused to believe and would have stoned Caleb, he believed God. One man may turn the tide; but turn or not, the man who believes Christ will believe him even if he must stand alone (Acts 20:22-24). Stephen stood alone and died for the gospel he believed.
It is to follow Christ by the power and strength of his spirit! (Num. 14:24). 'My son, Caleb, had another spirit with him.' It is not by our wisdom that we believe, nor by our merit that we receive grace, nor by our power that we stand. It is by his Holy Spirit. 'Not by might nor by power but by my Spirit, saith the Lord.' We are made willing in the day of his power, and we are kept by his power through faith. 'Not unto us, 0 Lord, but unto thy name give glory!' The true believer does not take credit for anything he is, has, or does (1 Cor. 4:7; 1 Cor. 15:10).