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From Eternity Past

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    Caleb Asks for the Most Difficult Place

    Caleb and Joshua were the only ones among the spies who had brought a good report of the Land of Promise, encouraging the people to go up and possess it in the name of the Lord. Caleb now reminded Joshua of the promise then made, as the reward of his faithfulness: “The land whereon thy feet have trodden shall be thine inheritance, and thy children's forever, because thou hast wholly followed the Lord.” He therefore presented a request that Hebron be given him for a possession. Here had been the home of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and here, in the cave of Machpelah, they were buried.EP 364.3

    Hebron was the seat of the dreaded Anakim, whose formidable appearance had terrified the spies and destroyed the courage of all Israel. This was the place which Caleb, trusting in the strength of God, chose for his inheritance.EP 364.4

    “Behold, the Lord hath kept me alive,” he said, “these forty and five years, even since the Lord spake this word unto Moses: ... and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in. Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the Lord spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fenced: if so be the Lord will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the Lord said.”EP 364.5

    His claim was immediately granted. “Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh, Hebron for an inheritance,” “because that he wholly followed the Lord God of Israel.” Caleb had believed God's promise that He would put His people in possession of Canaan. He had endured the long wandering in the wilderness, sharing the disappointments and burdens of the guilty. Yet he made no complaint, but exalted the mercy of God that preserved him in the wilderness when his brethren were cut off. He did not ask for himself a land already conquered, but the place which above all others, the spies had thought impossible to subdue. The brave old warrior was desirous of giving the people an example that would honor God and encourage the tribes to subdue the land which their fathers had deemed unconquerable.EP 365.1

    Trusting in God to be with him, he “drove thence the three sons of Anak.” Having thus secured a possession for himself and his house, he did not settle down to enjoy his inheritance but pushed on to further conquests for the benefit of the nation and the glory of God.EP 365.2

    The cowards and rebels had perished in the wilderness, but the righteous spies ate of the grapes of Eshcol. The unbelieving had seen their fears fulfilled. They had declared it impossible to inherit Canaan, and they did not possess it. But those who trusted in the strength of their Almighty Helper, entered the goodly land. Through faith the ancient worthies “subdued kingdoms, ... escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.” “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” Hebrews 11:33, 34; 1 John 5:4.EP 365.3

    Another claim revealed a spirit widely different from that of Caleb. The children of Joseph, the tribe of Ephraim with the half tribe of Manasseh, demanded a double portion of territory. The lot designated for them was the richest in the land, including the fertile plain of Sharon; but many of the principal towns in the valley were still in possession of the Canaanites, and the tribes shrank from the toil and danger of conquering their possessions, and desired an additional portion in territory already subdued. The tribe of Ephraim was one of the largest in Israel, as well as the one to which Joshua himself belonged. “Why hast thou given me but one lot and one portion to inherit,” they said, “seeing I am a great people?”EP 366.1

    But the inflexible leader's answer was, “If thou be a great people, then get thee up to the wood country, and cut down for thyself there in the land of the Perizzites and of the giants, if Mount Ephraim be too narrow for thee.”EP 366.2

    Their reply showed the real cause of complaint. They lacked faith and courage to drive out the Canaanites. “The hill is not enough for us,” they said; “and all the Canaanites that dwell in the land of the valley have chariots of iron.”EP 366.3

    Had the Ephraimites possessed the courage and faith of Caleb, no enemy could have stood before them. Their desire to shun hardship and danger was firmly met by Joshua: “Thou art a great people, and hast great power,” he said; “thou shalt drive out the Canaanites, though they have iron chariots, and though they be strong.” With the help of God they need not fear the chariots of iron.EP 366.4

    Now the tabernacle was to be removed from Gilgal to its permanent location, Shiloh, a little town in Ephraim near the center of the land, and of easy access to all the tribes. Here a portion of the country had been thoroughly subdued, so that worshipers would not be molested. “And the whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh, and set up the tabernacle of the congregation there.”EP 366.5

    The ark remained at Shiloh for three hundred years, until, because of the sins of Eli's house, it fell into the hands of the Philistines.EP 367.1

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