"Uniting Christian & Jewish Clergy from Around the World"
Joshua 14:14 - "Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite unto this day, because that he wholly followed the Lord God of Israel."
One of my favorite personalities in the Word of God is a fellow by the name of Caleb. Usually we hear his name mentioned in conjunction with Joshua, with Joshua usually receiving most of the attention. However, Caleb was a man who possessed some of the most powerful characteristics of any man or woman of God who ever lived.
Caleb was a man of vitality and vision. These two qualities will always lead to spiritual victory! He realized his blessing from God because the Word teaches us that he "wholly followed the Lord." The Bible makes this statement about him and Joshua, but it says it more so concerning Caleb.
What does it mean when it says that he "wholly", or completely or fully followed the Lord? Of course, it means that Caleb was fully and totally obedient to the Lord. OBEDIENCE IS THE FIRST LAW OF GOD'S KINGDOM! Partial obedience is not obedience at all. Romans 6:16 says, "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?"
There are millions today who have not yet learned these simple facts: That you cannot be a servant of sin and Satan and a servant of righteousness and Christ at the same time; that if you commit sin you are a servant of sin and Satan (John 8:34; 1 John 3:8) and not a Christian; that if you sin, Satan is your master and not Christ and that sin is the service of Satan and righteousness is the service of God. Christ Himself set the ultimate example in obedience for us. Hebrews 5:8 says, "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;"
Caleb was a man who stood firm and held to his principles. Of course, his principles were founded upon God's Word! When you take a stand, be sure it is based on and from the Word, not on a personal whim, prejudice or opinion. There are many examples of how we can get in trouble with God when we allow ourselves to operate outside of His Word.
Take Miriam for example. The Bible tells us that she was a prophetess and a worship leader in the congregation of the Lord. Exodus 15:20-21 says, "And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.  And Miriam answered them, Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea."
Many times problems in the church occur between different ministry gifts and offices, and I am here to tell you, it is very displeasing to the Lord, according to His Word! Notice that Miriam's name in the Hebrew is Miryam (pronounced - meer-yawm') and it means rebelliously. It is a derivative of the Hebrew word meriy (mer'ee) which means bitterness. Extended it means rebellion, concrete bitter or rebellious.
Look what happens in this incident recorded in Numbers 12:1-5, 9-15. "And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman.  And they said, Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the Lord heard it.  (Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.)  And the Lord spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out.  And the Lord came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth.  And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.  My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house.  With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?  And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them; and he departed.  And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous.  And Aaron said unto Moses, Alas, my lord, I beseech thee, lay not the sin upon us, wherein we have done foolishly, and wherein we have sinned.  Let her not be as one dead, of whom the flesh is half consumed when he cometh out of his mother's womb.  And Moses cried unto the Lord, saying, Heal her now, O God, I beseech thee.  And the Lord said unto Moses, If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be ashamed seven days? let her be shut out from the camp seven days, and after that let her be received in again.  And Miriam was shut out from the camp seven days: and the people journeyed not till Miriam was brought in again."
Miriam, along with Aaron, rebelled against Moses, who was not only their pastor, but their own brother. Miriam had a problem with Moses taking Zipporah to be his wife. Aaron must have been secretly jealous to follow her in such ungodliness. However, the issue of Moses' wife was not what really motivated Aaron and Miriam to speak against Moses; it was just a cover to hide the fact that they were jealous of their younger brother and his success.
Miriam, one of Israel's prophetesses, enjoyed the position of first rank among the women of Israel (Exodus 15:20-21), being the sister of the two chief men of the nation. She caused the rebellion, without a doubt, because she thought she was being supplanted by a foreigner.
Jethro had brought the wife and sons of Moses from Midian to Sinai in order to reunite the family. Furthermore, he had given advice which Moses followed in making leaders over 10's, 50's, 100's, and 1,000's in Israel (Exodus 18:14-26). Moses had invited his father-in-law and brother-in-law to go along with them to be leaders by showing them the best places to camp (Numbers 10:29-33).
It displeased Miriam to see these newcomers given such attention; and her resentment was shared by Aaron, the ecclesiastical head of Israel. The two of them challenged Moses' right to serve as the leader of the whole nation; but Miriam seems to have been the chief instigator of this ungodliness, for punishment fell on her alone (Numbers 12:10-15). Aaron was simply misled by the pleadings of his sister; he yielded to her as he did once before to the desires of the people who urged him to sin (Exodus 32).
Thus, again his weakness of character showed up, a trait that would have disqualified him for taking the place of Moses his younger brother. So, you see there a number of lessons for the Church, right here in this one passage. Notice, God does not take rebellion of any kind lightly, but especially where it concerns His Church or Congregation. This is "the church in the wilderness" referred to in Acts 7:38. When God sets someone in place as the pastor, leader, chief elder, etc., rebellion against that assignment simply is not too intelligent, since it is considered rebellion against God Himself. Even if that leader is your natural brother, God does not excuse the rebellion.
Look at verse two: "And they said, Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the Lord heard it." All things are naked and open before God, as Paul declared in Hebrews 4:12-13. Oh Christian, be oh so careful before you start to criticize, murmur and complain against God's leadership. Don't forget that the Lord HEARS it! And when He hears it, it doesn't go ignored or unpunished.
He calls for a meeting with with Miriam, Aaron and Moses at the "tabernacle of the congregation". Check it out in verses 4-9: "And the Lord spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out.  And the Lord came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth.  And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.  My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house.  With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?  And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them; and he departed."
Now, understand that God's anger is not like human, earthly, emotional anger. His is a righteous, pure, holy, perfect anger, which is far more terrible to face if that anger is directed at us. In fact, notice that God became so angry He finally had to just leave. Have you ever gotten to the place where your anger was approaching a point where it would be best if you just leave?
We never think of it like this, but just imagine God becoming that angry! It's like He had to leave and cool off before He did some major damage. I don't know about you, but I desire not to cross God at all, but I certainly don't want to be on the recieving end of that side of Him.
In verse 7, when God said, "My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house", He was saying to Miriam and Aaron, in essence, it is bad enough to rebel against my prophets, but Moses was not an ordinary prophet. He was much more. First, he was a servant over God's house (Numbers 12:7; Hebrews 3:1-6). Israel is called God's house in the same sense as the New Testament church (Galatians 6:10; Ephes. 2:19; 1 Tim. 3:15; Hebrews 3:6; Hebrews 10:21; 1 Peter 2:5; 1 Peter 4:17).
Then, He spoke with God "mouth to mouth" (Numbers 12:8). God and Moses actually saw each other and spoke face to face with audible voices (Exodus 33:11; Numbers 14:14; Deut. 5:4; Deut. 34:10; cp. Joshua 6:22; 2 John 1:12). Moses received God's Word directly and plainly, not through dreams, visions, parables, or dark sayings.
Now Miriam and Aaron, having should have known and understood this, God says to them, "why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant, Moses"? In other words, "don't you guys have any better sense than that? Not too bright, you two."
Another thing that angered God was the prejudice that was demonstrated by Miriam and Aaron. Now I was very misunderstood on this point one time, however, I am sorry friends, but there is no place for prejudice of ANY KIND in the Body of Christ! I made the statement one time that Moses was married to a black woman, since Zipporah was from Ethiopia. I was accused of promoting interracial marriages.
Allow me to clarify this. I do not "promote" or encourage interracial marriages, but it is not based on prejudice. I myself, have performed mixed marriages. I simply caution people concerning the ramifications and reactions they may get from their families and the society or culture in which they live. It is simply a matter of wisdom that must be considered, depending on your location and situation. In all honesty let me say, there is nothing in the Word of God whatsoever that condemns it, based on differences in skin color, but based on God's people intermarrying into pagan and idolatrous cultures.
God certainly honored the marriage of Moses and Zipporah and, in fact, came to Moses' defense when it was challenged by Miriam and Aaron. Notice Miriam's punishment. Numbers 12:10: "And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous." It was like God was saying "Okay, you want white, I'll give you white"! Friend, this was leprosy in it's final stages.
Miriam's next step was the grave, so you tell me how God feels about it.
"Extreme", you say? Maybe so, but the rebellion stopped at the first sign of judgment, when Aaron begged Moses to be merciful. Few think of mercy for others until they need it for themselves.
Notice also, they had to go to the very one that they murmured against to ask for healing! As usual, Moses not only showed meekness in the face of bitter opposition to himself, but also mercy and forgiveness. So, Moses begged the Lord to heal her, but notice, God is quick to forgive, but not always so quick and instant to restore as we like to think He is. Look at His answer in verse 14. He says in essence, "If her earthly father had spit in her face, she would have been greatly humiliated; how much more should she be humiliated when rejected by God for sin?" And just like here, spitting in the face was held by orientals as a sign of great contempt.
Forgiveness is not always easy to get from man, but from God, who is all merciful, it is given for the asking. Yet, forgiveness does not always necessarily avert punishment. For Miriam's punishment she was quarantined for seven days. By now she was between eighty-five and ninety years old, making it all the more humiliating. This was the first place that Israel had camped for several days after leaving Sinai. Miriam's sin caused them to remain here at least seven days. A clear example that murmuring, complaining, rebellion and sin not only affects the one who is committing it, but if not dealt with, like a cancer, it will spread and infect/affect the church body, thus deterring the work of the Kingdom!
So, we see that Caleb took a stand based on God's Word! Caleb's attitude was that there is right and there is wrong and I will stand for what is right - regardless of the cost! If all the world is standing for the wrong, I will be the one to stand for what is right, according to God's Word! God will always vindicate righteousness. For Caleb it took 45 years of faithful obedience. GOD NEVER FORGETS FAITHFULNESS! Psalm 11:7 tells us, "For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright." Then again the psalmist says in Psalm 37:25, "I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." This is literally true in all generations. His seed is so blessed (Psalm 37:26), there is no need to beg.
If a truly righteous man appropriates the smallest part of the promises of God he cannot be considered forsaken by God; nor does he need to beg bread. However, it must be God's righteousness, not our own!
Paul tells us in Romans 10:3 "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God." Therefore, he tells us in Philip. 3:9 that we must "... be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:" Man's righteousness is not enough. God's righteousness comes through Christ, by faith. Now when that happens, Psalm 64:10 declares that "The righteous shall be glad in the Lord, and shall trust in him; and all the upright in heart shall glory." Jesus Himself tells us in Matthew 5:6 "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled."
Such was the case with Caleb! The phrase "hunger and thirst after" is an idiom for a strong desire. The Word tells us that Caleb wholly, entirely, completely followed the Lord. He had that strong desire, he hungered and thirsted so much for a right relationship with God that he sought to love and follow the Lord in every aspect. He desired God's blessing on he and his family so strongly out of and because of His love relationship with the Lord. Caleb knew that all good things come from God! If you and I desire God's blessings in our life, the question we must ask ourself is: HOW OBEDIENT AM I TO ALL THAT GOD COMMANDS? Am I wholly following Him?