“Then the Lord said: ‘I have pardoned, according to your word; but truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord— because all these men who have seen My glory and the signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have put Me to the test now these ten times, and have not heeded My voice, they certainly shall not see the land of which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who rejected Me see it. But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it.” (Numbers 14:20-24)
The occasion is Israel’s murmuring upon the return of the 12 men who had been sent into Canaan to spy out the land. The spies had found the land to be one that “truly flows with milk and honey” (Num. 13:27). But then they added this: “Nevertheless, the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there.” (verse 28). Caleb’s counsel was this: “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it” (verse 30). But ten of those spies said Israel would not be able to go up against the people in the land because “they are stronger than we.” When all the congregation murmured against Moses and Aaron, both Caleb and Joshua tried to assure the people: “If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land which flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them” (verses 7-9). Yet the congregation was ready to stone them for these words!
God said His servant Caleb had a different spirit. We might describe his spirit as one of courage and optimism. Optimism is hopeful-ness and confidence about the future or about the successful outcome of something. Courage is the quality of mind that enables a person to face difficulty and fear with confidence and resolution. Caleb had both. Why does he have that spirit? Was he born with it? Were his mother and father that way? Maybe his friends were that way? Stop. May I suggest that he had the spirit of courage and optimism because of his faith in God! Courage and optimism did not give rise to his faith. Rather, his great faith in God gave rise to his courage and optimism, even in the face of the pessimism, discouragement, and fear of his ten fellow spies and the congregation of Israel.
Caleb’s courage is demonstrated not only in his confidence that they could go up against the giants of the land, but his courage is shown when he faces the opposition of his own brethren! He remained true to his conviction even when his brethren were unwilling and would not be convinced.
Think of how Caleb and Joshua saw the same land as the other ten spies, yet they could “see” something different. Caleb and Joshua could see through the eyes of faith what God had in store for His people because He believed God.
Fast-forward forty-five years to when the land is being divided among the tribes in Joshua 14. Caleb is still walking by faith. God promised, and Caleb still believes God: “Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day” (Joshua 14:12).
As people with faith in God and the Lord Jesus Christ, we too should be people of optimism and courage. The apostle Paul asked, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Romans 8:35). His answer is, “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (verse 37). Those are the words of a courageous optimist. A deep and abiding faith in God and Christ Jesus works such a spirit. “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (2 Timothy 1:12).
Let us give diligence to grow in faith. Faith gives rise to courage and optimism, and we all need a lot of that. “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).