Sunday Sermon: ‘Defeating the Giants’

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Several weeks ago we began a series of studies from the book of Joshua. Many of you remember that first lesson – ‘Don’t Let the Giants Get You.’ A lot of us have faced giants and unfortunately, a lot of us have been defeated by giants. The bad thing about giants is that they don’t just defeat us and then go away. Periodically the pop back up. Giants will hang around as long as we let them.

Today we’re going to study about a man who defeated the giants. His name was Caleb. And though Caleb was long past the age someone should be fighting giants, even in his old age, Caleb was a giant killer.

Joshua 14:6 Then the children of Judah came unto Joshua in Gilgal: and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite said unto him, Thou knowest the thing that the LORD said unto Moses the man of God concerning me and thee in Kadeshbarnea. 7 Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadeshbarnea to espy out the land; and I brought him word again as it was in mine heart. 8 Nevertheless my brethren that went up with me made the heart of the people melt: but I wholly followed the LORD my God.

9 And Moses sware on that day, saying, Surely the land whereon thy feet have trodden shall be thine inheritance, and thy children’s forever, because thou hast wholly followed the LORD my God. 10 And now, behold, the LORD hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years, even since the LORD spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old. 11 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.

12 Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the LORD spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakims 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.

13 And Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh Hebron for an inheritance. 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.

As usual, my outline is pretty simple and easy to understand:

I. Caleb, a Committed Man

II. Caleb, a Courageous Man

III. Caleb, a Conquering Man

I. Caleb, a Committed Man

A. Close Commitment

Five times something very important is said in scripture about Caleb. We read it at the end of vs. 14 – “he wholly followed the LORD God of Israel.” The word ‘wholly’ means – fully. He was a fully committed follower of God. Alan Carr, from whom I gained a lot this week by studying his teaching on Caleb, says that ‘wholly followed’ also means to ‘close the gap.’ “It is a phrase used by hunters to refer to their closing the gap between themselves and their prey.” Caleb pursued God. Caleb not only walked ‘with’ the Lord, he walked ‘close to’ the Lord and he walked ‘after’ the Lord. He was much like David who was described as a ‘man after God’s own heart.’

It is interesting to note the place Caleb chose for his home. It was the place of Hebron. Hebron carried a very special place many of the Jewish people’s heart. It was in Hebron that Abraham owned the only piece of the Promised Land he ever possessed. It was in Hebron that he bought a cave as a burial place for his beloved wife, Sarah. Later Abraham was buried there himself as well as his son Isaac and his wife Rebekah. Jacob was buried in Hebron and so was his son Joseph. Hebron was a sacred place to men like Caleb and so he was willing to defeat the giants of Hebron so that he might dwell with the giants of heaven.

Where do we desire to dwell? Two and one-half the tribes went back and dwelt on the wilderness side of the Jordan. Many of the tribe dwelt in the well-water plains. But Caleb wanted to dwell on the mountain with God. It is interesting to note that the name Hebron means ‘fellowship.’

B. Chosen Commitment

James Montgomery Boice, in his commentary on Joshua, gives some interesting details about Caleb. Often Caleb is referred to as – ‘Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite.’ Little details often go unnoticed, yet according to Dr. Boice, Kenizzites were not Jews. They were a part of the people of Canaan. Apparently, sometime before Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt, a man by the name of Jephunneh became a proselyte to the Jewish faith. Though this detail is amazing, it’s also very important. Caleb was not a man ‘going through the motions.’ He wasn’t doing what everyone expected him to be doing. He wholly followed the Lord of his own free will. We know that God chose Caleb, but Caleb also chose God. God gives big dreams to those who chose Him to be their God.

C. Continuous Commitment

For forty-five years ‘plus’, Caleb followed the LORD with all his heart.

    • When others said, ‘We can’t’ – He said ‘We can!’
    • When others said, ‘Let’s turn back’ – He said ‘Let’s go forward’
    • When others said, ‘The best if behind us’ – He said ‘The best if before us’
    • When others said, ‘Give me the good ol’ days’ – He said, ‘Give me that mountain’

I remember many years ago watching Jerry Falwell, founder of Liberty University, on TV. I remember when he began to dream about moving the college to Chandler Mountain, which later became known as Liberty Mountain. I remember him talking about getting up every Sunday morning and driving around the mountain, praying all the way that God would give it to him. I remember Robbie Hiner singing, “I Want That Mountain.” God gave Jerry Falwell that mountain and I believe that there are a lot of mountains that He is willing to give us as well. Yet for Him to do so, we have to be men and women like Caleb. We have to ‘wholly followed the LORD our God.’

II. Caleb, a Courageous Man

Joshua 14:10 And now, behold, the LORD hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years, even since the LORD spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old. 11 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.

We marvel at a man his age being so courageous. Many would say that 85 years old is too old to still be going out to war and fighting for mountains. In Caleb’s eyes, 85 might be too old for fighting but it was not too old for faith. Caleb believed that God had a purpose for his life and he was intent on fulfilling that purpose.

Joshua 14:10 And now, behold, the LORD hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years

‘God has kept me alive’, he said. ‘Why?’, some might ask. ‘To finish a task that should have been finished 45 years ago’, Caleb would answer. You see, in Caleb’s mind, there was a matter of dealing with the ‘Sons of Anak.’

Joshua 14:12 Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the LORD spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakimsand 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. were there,

Caleb didn’t ask for just any mountain. He wanted the mountain where the Anak and his three sons lived. To understand what this was all about, we have to go back about forty-five years when Joshua and Caleb were much younger men.

Numbers 13:25 And they returned from searching of the land after forty days. 26 And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word  unto them, and unto all the congregation, and shewed them the fruit of the land. 27 And they told him, and said, We came unto the land  whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it. 28 Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there.

30 And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.

Numbers 14:6 And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes: 7 And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying , The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. 8 If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. 9 Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not. 10 But all the congregation bade stone them with stones.

Both Joshua and Caleb remembered that day and for forty-five years, Caleb had been waiting for the moment to glorify God and prove the people wrong.

Joshua 14:12 Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the LORD spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakims 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.

I believe that when old Caleb said, ‘for thou heardest in that day’, that there was a bit of sarcasm in his voice. Perhaps he even said it in a mocking kind of way. ‘You remember the wimps! Well I’m no wimp. Give me that mountain!’

III. Caleb, a Conquering Man

Joshua 14:13 And Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh Hebron for an inheritance.

Joshua 15:13 And unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh he gave a part among the children of Judah, according to the commandment of the LORD to Joshua, even the city of Arba the father of Anak, which city is Hebron. 14 And Caleb drove thence the three sons of Anak, Sheshai, and Ahiman, and Talmai, the children of Anak.

Caleb conquered the city, but what’s more, he conquered the giants! Hebron was the city of Arba, father of the giants. Caleb took Hebron for the LORD and drove off Arba’s three sons.

Caleb passed down a conquering spirit.

Joshua 15:15 And he went up thence to the inhabitants of Debir: and the name of Debir before was Kirjathsepher. 16 And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjathsepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife. 17  And Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife.

Conclusion

As I have thought about the story of Caleb, I’ve come to realize that Caleb defeated a lot of giants along the way. He was a lot like David on the day that he faced Goliath. “Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God.” (1 Sam 17:34-36) David was used to big challenges and so was Caleb.

Caleb defeated the giants overwhelming odds on the day he first saw the giants at Hebron. When most of the others want to run in fear, Caleb was ready to fight. In his mind, he defeated those giants the first day he saw them. He defeated the giants of ‘peer pressure’ when they arrived back at the camp. When everyone talked about the big giants, Caleb talked about his big God. Caleb defeated the giants of self-pity. For forty years, the children of Israel whined as they wandered in the wilderness; yet there was only two men among them that had a legitimate reason to whine – Joshua and Caleb. They were suffering for the sins of others. Yet not once did Joshua and Caleb whine. They defeated the giants of self-pity. Caleb defeated the giants of anxiety and worry. He waited it out until it was time to cross the Jordan. He fell right into place and marched across the dry river bed like everyone else. He marched around the walls of Jericho and didn’t say a word. It took approximately five years after they crossed the Jordan, for Joshua and his army to conquer most of the land. Caleb waited it out, knowing that at the right moment, God would give him his opportunity. He defeated the giants of lust when Achan fell. He defeated the giants of failure when he and the others made a mistake and formed a league with the Gibeonites. He defeated the giants of long hours and hard days. When the armies of Israel marched all night, up-hill, to fight against the five kings, Joshua and Caleb were right there with them. Caleb was now well up into his eighties and Joshua was even older. What courageous and committed men they were. Caleb had defeated giants throughout his life, on a daily basis, therefore the giants of Hebron were ‘grasshoppers’ in his sight.

God blesses men and women like that. God loves those who are so full of faith that they fight giants. Are you a giant fighter?

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