C: In this lesson, we're going to read about Joshua and Caleb. Joshua was Moses' aide and assistant, and he is the one Moses chose to lead the Israelites into the promised land. We'll see how Joshua was when he was a young "zone leader" for the Israelites.
1. A New Name for a New Job.
1 The LORD said to Moses,
2 "Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders."
3 So at the Lord's command Moses sent them out from the Desert of Paran. All of them were leaders of the Israelites.
C: The Israelites had been wandering in the desert for some time. Then God spoke to Moses.
Q: What did God ask Moses to do in this passage? [To send some men to scout out the promised land. He wanted one man from each of the twelve tribes.]
4 These are their names: from the tribe of Reuben, Shammua son of Zaccur;
5 from the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat son of Hori;
6 from the tribe of Judah, Caleb son of Jephunneh;
7 from the tribe of Issachar, Igal son of Joseph;
8 from the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea son of Nun;
9 from the tribe of Benjamin, Palti son of Raphu;
10 from the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel son of Sodi;
11 from the tribe of Manasseh (a tribe of Joseph), Gaddi son of Susi;
12 from the tribe of Dan, Ammiel son of Gemalli;
13 from the tribe of Asher, Sethur son of Michael;
14 from the tribe of Naphtali, Nahbi son of Vophsi;
15 from the tribe of Gad, Geuel son of Maki.
C: In verses 4-15, we read one by one the names of these men, including Hoshea the son of Nun from the tribe of Ephraim (v.8). Israel was divided into twelve tribes, just like we have zones in our church! One young man from each tribe was selected. It must have been so exciting to have been chosen.
These are the names of the men Moses sent to explore the land. (Moses gave Hoshea son of Nun the name Joshua.)
Q: What did Moses do for Hoshea? [He gave him a new name, Joshua.]
C: All of his life, Hoshea had been known as the "son of Nun." People did not think of him on his own, but rather as the "son of so-and-so."
This is true for many of us. In your native place, and among your relatives, you are the "son of so-and-so" or "daughter of so-and-so." But Moses wanted Joshua to realise that he was an individual, with a special mission from God. So he gave him a new name. In the same way, God has chosen us. He has given us a new name, too the name of Christian!
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.
Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name.
Q: Are you excited about the mission God has given you? He has chosen you to spread the word of God, just like he chose Joshua to scout out the land.
2. A Specific Plan for the Job.
17 When Moses sent them to explore Canaan, he said, "Go up through the Negev and on into the hill country.
18 See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many.
19 What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad? What kind of towns do they live in? Are they unwalled or fortified?
20 How is the soil? Is it fertile or poor? Are there trees on it or not? Do your best to bring back some of the fruit of the land." (It was the season for the first ripe grapes.)
C: Here we see what Moses told these twelve men. He was very specific. He told them where to go. He said they should answer several questions about the land and its people. He wanted them to find out everything because he planned to attack the land and take it for God's people. He also asked them to bring back some fruit from there (v.20).
C: In the same way that Moses was specific, so God is specific with us. He tells us to repent, leaving our old religion and old sins. He tells us to become disciples of Jesus. He tells us to read the Bible and pray. He tells us to share our faith. He tells us to come to all the meetings. He tells us to love others, and teach them about God. He tells us to love people, not money. He tells us to love God more than family.
Q: Are God's commands confusing? [No.]
C: God's plan for us is easy to follow. If we follow it, we are sure to succeed!
3. A "Grasshopper" Thinking.
21 So they went up and explored the land from the Desert of Zin as far as Rehob, toward Lebo Hamath.
22 They went up through the Negev and came to Hebron, where Ahiman, Sheshai and Talmai, the descendants of Anak, lived. (Hebron had been built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.)
23 When they reached the Valley of Eshcol, they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs.
24 That place was called the Valley of Eshcol because of the cluster of grapes the Israelites cut off there.
25 At the end of forty days they returned from exploring the land.
C: It tell us that the people did go and explore the land. But look at how they reacted.
26 They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land.
27 They gave Moses this account: "We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit.
28 But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there.
29 The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan."
30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, "We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it."
31 But the men who had gone up with him said, "We can't attack those people; they are stronger than we are."
32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, "The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size.
33 We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them."
C: The people did bring back the fruit (v.26). They told Moses that the land was great (v.27). But then they started making excuses. They said many negative things.
Q: What were some of the negative, faithless things they said?
- "The people who live there are powerful" (v.28).
- "The cities are fortified" (v.28).
- "The cities are very large" (v.28).
- "There are descendants of Anak there" (v.28).
- "We can't attack them" (v.31).
- "They are stronger than we are" (v.31).
- "The land devours people" (v.32).
- "The people are all big" (v.32).
C: These guys were making excuses. Sometimes we invite people to a meeting. And they don't just make one excuse, but many, all at once.
Q: What are some of the excuses that you've heard?
C: Verse 33 sums up their attitude: "we seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes." After the Israelites went there, they felt worthless, like insects. They felt like they couldn't do it.
That's how we feel sometimes. Even as children, sometimes our families, teachers, friends, and neighbours put us down and criticise us. They make us feel worthless. This is even more true for the women. And so the minute we face a challenge, we think, "I can't do it," and we want to quit. But that is grasshopper thinking! That is not right.
God is with us. He will help us win the victory. So let's believe and be confident. Let's be confident at work, not afraid of asking our boss for time to come to the meetings. Let's be confident at home, not getting discouraged by our family's criticism. And let's be confident in our neighbourhood and while evangelising. Jesus is on our side.
4. A "Quitting" Mentality
C: All this negative talk discouraged the people. Look how they reacted in chapter 14.
1 That night all the people of the community raised their voices and wept aloud.
2 All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, "If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this desert!
3 Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn't it be better for us to go back to Egypt?"
4 And they said to each other, "We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt."
Q: How did the people react to Moses? [They wished they had died in the desert or Egypt (v.2). They were wailing and moaning. They wanted to go back to Egypt (v.4).]
C: Sometimes we get emotional. We feel like giving up. This can happen with our families. We give up on them and hate them. Or it can happen with work. We give up trying, and we lose our jobs. It can happen with our relationships. We give up, and the relationships are spoiled. But we must remember one thing: winners never quit, and quitters never win.
5. A Different Spirit
C: The next verses show how Joshua and Caleb were different from the others. They had faith, and were fired up.
5 Then Moses and Aaron fell facedown in front of the whole Israelite assembly gathered there.
6 Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes
7 and said to the entire Israelite assembly, "The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good.
8 If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us.
9 Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them."
10 But the whole assembly talked about stoning them. Then the glory of the LORD appeared at the Tent of Meeting to all the Israelites.
11 The LORD said to Moses, "How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them?
12 I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater and stronger than they."
Q: What did Moses and Aaron do when the people grumbled? [They fell facedown in front of everyone (v.6). That must have been amazing.] Joshua and Caleb also were fired up. They tore their clothes, and they told everyone that the land was great (v.7), and that God would bless them (v.8). They challenged the people not to be afraid, and to obey the Lord. Yet the people did not listen they talked about stoning them.
C: As Christians, we need to be completely different from the world. We must be happy when others are sad. We must believe when others doubt. We must love when others hate. And we must keep trying for fruit, even when others do not believe that people are open.
20 The LORD replied, "I have forgiven them, as you asked.
21 Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the LORD fills the whole earth,
22 not one of the men who saw my glory and the miraculous signs I performed in Egypt and in the desert but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times--
23 not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their forefathers. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it.
24 But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.
25 Since the Amalekites and Canaanites are living in the valleys, turn back tomorrow and set out toward the desert along the route to the Red Sea."
29 In this desert your bodies will fall--every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me.
30 Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.
C: Here God promised that none of those people who grumbled would make it into the promised land, only Caleb (v.24) and Joshua (v.30). They had a different spirit, an attitude of gratitude and faith. Q: Think about it. How would describe your attitude? Is it one of faith, or fear? Do you believe in his great promises today?
Joshua was surrounded by people with no faith, but he and Caleb had a different spirit than the rest. Let's all be that way!