Do You Follow Jehovah Fully?
“THE righteous are like a young lion that is confident.” (Proverbs 28:1) They exercise faith, confidently rely on God’s Word, and boldly go forward in Jehovah’s service in the face of any danger.
While the Israelites were in Sinai after God delivered them from Egyptian bondage in the 16th century B.C.E., two men especially showed that they were as confident as lions. They also displayed faithfulness to Jehovah under adverse circumstances. One of these men was the Ephraimite Joshua, who was Moses’ attendant and who was later appointed as his successor. (Exodus 33:11; Numbers 13:8, 16; Deuteronomy 34:9; Joshua 1:1, 2) The other was Caleb, the son of Jephunneh of the tribe of Judah.—Numbers 13:6; 32:12.
Caleb loyally and zealously did Jehovah’s will. His long life of faithful service to God enabled him to say that he had ‘followed Jehovah fully.’ (Joshua 14:8) “I was completely loyal to the LORD, my God,” says The New American Bible. Caleb “faithfully obeyed,” or “loyally carried out the purpose of,” Jehovah God. (Today’s English Version; The New English Bible) Put another way, Caleb declared: “I . . . followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly.” (New International Version) What about you? Are you following Jehovah fully?
Spying Out the Land
Imagine yourself among the Israelites shortly after Jehovah has freed them from slavery to the Egyptians. See how the prophet Moses faithfully follows God-given instructions. Yes, and note Caleb’s confidence that Jehovah is with His people.
It is the second year after the Exodus from Egypt, and the Israelites are camped at Kadesh-barnea in the wilderness of Paran. They are poised at the border of the Promised Land. At God’s command, Moses is about to send 12 spies into Canaan. He says: “Go up here into the Negeb, and you must go up into the mountainous region. And you must see what the land is and the people who are dwelling on it, whether they are strong or weak, whether they are few or many; and what the land is in which they are dwelling, whether it is good or bad, and what the cities are in which they are dwelling, whether it is in encampments or in fortifications; and what the land is, whether it is fat or lean, whether there are trees in it or not. And you must show yourselves courageous and take some of the fruitage of the land.”—Numbers 13:17-20.
The 12 men begin their perilous journey. Their expedition lasts for 40 days. At Hebron they see men of great size. In the valley of Eshcol, they note the land’s productivity and decide to carry back some of its fruitage. So heavy is one cluster of grapes that it must be borne on a bar between two men!—Numbers 13:21-25.
Returning to the Israelite encampment, the spies report: “We entered into the land to which you sent us out, and it is indeed flowing with milk and honey, and this is its fruitage. Nevertheless, the facts are that the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the fortified cities are very great; and, too, those born of Anak we saw there. The Amalekites are dwelling in the land of the Negeb, and the Hittites and the Jebusites and the Amorites are dwelling in the mountainous region, and the Canaanites are dwelling by the sea and by the side of the Jordan.” (Numbers 13:26-29) Ten spies are not ready to accept God’s orders and march into the Promised Land.
“Jehovah Is With Us”
With faith in Jehovah God, however, the fearless spy Caleb urges: “Let us go up directly, and we are bound to take possession of it, because we can surely prevail over it.” But the ten spies dissent, saying that Canaan’s inhabitants are stronger than the Israelites. The terrified and faithless spies view themselves as mere grasshoppers by comparison.—Numbers 13:30-33.
“Jehovah is with us. Do not fear them,” urge Caleb and Joshua. Their words fall on deaf ears. When the people speak of pelting them with stones, God intervenes and pronounces sentence on the murmurers: “You will not enter into the land in which I lifted up my hand in oath to reside with you, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun. And your little ones . . . I shall certainly bring in, and they will indeed know the land that you have rejected. . . . And your sons will become shepherds in the wilderness forty years, . . . until your carcasses come to their end in the wilderness. By the number of the days that you spied out the land, forty days, a day for a year, a day for a year, you will answer for your errors forty years.”—Numbers 14:9, 30-34.
Still Faithful Years Later
The 40-year sentence runs its course, and death claims a whole generation of murmurers. But Caleb and Joshua are still faithful to God. On the plains of Moab, Moses and High Priest Eleazar have numbered the men of military age 20 years old and upward. God names one man from each tribe of Israel to be entrusted with the division of the Promised Land. Caleb, Joshua, and Eleazar are among them. (Numbers 34:17-29) Though now 79 years old, Caleb is still vigorous, loyal, and courageous.
When Moses and Aaron numbered the people at Sinai shortly before they fearfully refused to enter the land of Canaan, Israel’s fighting men numbered 603,550. After four decades in the wilderness, there was a smaller army of 601,730. (Numbers 1:44-46; 26:51) Yet, with Joshua at their head and faithful Caleb in their ranks, the Israelites entered the Promised Land and enjoyed one victory after another. As Joshua and Caleb had always expected, Jehovah was winning battles for his people.
Crossing the Jordan River with Israel’s fighting men, elderly Joshua and Caleb bear their burdens in the ensuing battles. After six years of warfare, however, much land remains to be occupied. Jehovah will drive out the inhabitants but now decrees that the land be apportioned by lot among Israel’s tribes.—Joshua 13:1-7.
He Followed Jehovah Fully
As a veteran of many battles, Caleb stands before Joshua and says: “Forty years old I was when Moses the servant of Jehovah sent me out of Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I came bringing him back word just as it was in my heart. And my brothers who went up with me caused the heart of the people to melt; but as for me, I followed Jehovah my God fully.” (Joshua 14:6-8) Yes, Caleb has followed Jehovah fully, loyally doing God’s will.
“Consequently,” Caleb adds, “Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘The land upon which your foot has trod will become yours and your sons’ as an inheritance to time indefinite, because you have followed Jehovah my God fully.’ And now here Jehovah has preserved me alive, just as he promised, these forty-five years since Jehovah made this promise to Moses when Israel walked in the wilderness, and now here I am today eighty-five years old. Yet I am today as strong as on the day of Moses’ sending me out. As my power was then, so my power is now for the war, both to go out and to come in. And now do give me this mountainous region that Jehovah promised on that day, for you yourself heard on that day that there were Anakim there and great fortified cities. Likely Jehovah will be with me, and I shall certainly dispossess them, just as Jehovah promised.” Caleb now gets Hebron as an inheritance.—Joshua 14:9-15.
Aged Caleb has received the toughest of assignments—a region infested with men of unusual size. But this is not too hard for this 85-year-old warrior. In time the bullies inhabiting Hebron are vanquished. Othniel, the son of Caleb’s younger brother and a judge in Israel, captures Debir. Both cities are later occupied by Levites, and Hebron becomes a city of refuge for the unintentional manslayer.—Joshua 15:13-19; 21:3, 11-16; Judges 1:9-15, 20.
Always Follow Jehovah Fully
Caleb and Joshua were imperfect humans. Nevertheless, they faithfully did Jehovah’s will. Their faith did not wane during the 40 years of hardship in the wilderness that resulted from Israel’s failure to obey God. Similarly, Jehovah’s modern-day servants let nothing interfere with their service to God’s praise. Aware that a fight is on between God’s organization and that of Satan the Devil, they are steadfast, consistently seeking to please their heavenly Father in all things.
For example, many of Jehovah’s people have risked brutal treatment and even death to celebrate the Lord’s Evening Meal, or Memorial of Jesus Christ’s death. (1 Corinthians 11:23-26) In this regard a Christian woman confined in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II reported:
“Everyone was told to be in the laundry at 11 p.m. Exactly at 11 p.m. we were assembled, 105 in number. We stood close together in a circle, in the midst [of which was] a footstool with a white cloth bearing the emblems. A candle lit the room, as electric light might have betrayed us. We felt like the primitive Christians in the catacombs. It was a solemn feast. We expressed anew our fervent vows to our Father to use all our strength for the vindication of His holy name, to stand faithfully for The Theocracy.”
Despite our trials as Jehovah’s persecuted servants, we can rely on God-given strength to serve him courageously and bring honor to his holy name. (Philippians 4:13) As we endeavor to please Jehovah, it will do us good to remember Caleb. His example in following Jehovah fully made quite an impression on a young man who entered the full-time preaching work back in 1921. He wrote:
“Although becoming a pioneer meant leaving behind my comfortable job at a modern printing works in Coventry [England], there were no regrets. My dedication had already settled the matter; my life was dedicated to God. I remembered Caleb, who entered the Promised Land with Joshua and of whom it was said, ‘He followed Jehovah fully.’ (Josh. 14:8) That seemed to me to be the desirable attitude. I knew that serving God ‘fully’ would make my dedicated life more vital; it would afford me greater opportunity to produce the fruitage that marks a Christian.”
Caleb was surely blessed for loyally following Jehovah fully, always seeking to do the divine will. Like him, others have had great joy and rich blessings in God’s service. May that be your experience as a person who continually follows Jehovah fully.
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Caleb and Joshua were faithful to Jehovah under test. Are you?