Caleb’s name has been passed down through the ages as a courageous hero. His beloved Hebron is immortalized on thousands of church signs. You sing “I Want That Mountain” in church, inspired by his story. You know at least a few people named for him. But what if Caleb was… your dad?
You know the story. Joshua and Caleb were among those spying out Canaan, and would be the only two adults in faithless Israel to get to enter. Fast-forward 45 years: Joshua is now Moses’s successor, and is busy conquering Canaan. Caleb is now an old man, trying very hard to be patient as his tribe waits their turn for land allotments. He tells Joshua, “Moses promised me Hebron. I have been faithful to God and He’s kept me going. I’m still ready to fight. Can I please just have it now?” And Caleb the 85-year-old giant-killer charges into Hebron and possesses that thing.
Achsah (pronounced “ak-sa”) is Caleb’s daughter. Imagine growing up in Caleb’s shadow. You’ve heard him talk about giants and victory and Hebron your entire life. He spends his evenings telling you – again – about the amazing things he saw there. He’s ingrained it into you that fear, disobedience, and complaining are all roads to failure and misery. He’s stubbornly supported everything Moses and Joshua have ever said or done. You never get home from the tabernacle before dark because Dad’s volunteering the family for everything. But for all his annoying cheerfulness, you know unquestioningly that he is the greatest man you’ve ever known. He’s a hero to you – especially when he finally gets to defeat the sons of the giants and claim his beloved Hebron.
How do you top that? How could you ever hope to be a hero when your father has battled giants? Yet his passion has become Achsah’s passion. His success has become her desire. It’s not enough that her brothers should inherit Dad’s legacy when he dies; she wants a little of this precious promised land for herself. When she marries her cousin Othniel, who has gained additional land for Dad, she persuades him to ask for a little bit of this rich earth. But when Dad grants it, Achsah has one more, personal request. “Give me a blessing,” she pleads. “Give me also springs of water.”
You see, Achsah’s never known permanence. Up until this point, her people wandered in the wilderness, never staying in one place very long, never able to possess or cultivate land. The one constant natural resource in Achsah’s life has been water. Water replenishes and cleanses, and without it, nothing survives. Caleb’s gift of land to her and Othniel means nothing without the means to keep it alive.
If you grew up in a Christian home or a godly church, chances are, your battle experience is valid but small. My parents, both saved as teenagers growing up in relatively dysfunctional homes, faced thousands of battles I’ve never touched. Over and over they have fought for standards, for doctrines, for practical living out the principles of God’s Word. They pushed on in full faith, inexperienced, youthful, sometimes battered into doubt by “good people” ridiculing their stand. They’ve built ministries, stayed faithful in poverty and sickness, even endured mistreatment by some of the very people they gave their lives to serve. Fast-forward a couple of decades and compare their battles to mine – I’ve fought a few battles in this promised land they slew giants for, but mostly I’ve just been hoeing dirt. I am Achsah – blessed by their labor, invested in their passion, but needing territory of my own.
My predecessors gave me a good piece of “land” – a solid faith, a remarkable Baptist heritage, sound doctrine and practice. But without “springs of water” to sustain it, my little parcel of land is going to dry up and bear no fruit.
Water is used frequently in the Bible as a symbol of Christ – living water, wells of salvation, baptism, and so on. Achsah understood that without water, she could not hope to keep her inheritance. And I must come to the understanding that without fully possessing the Lord Jesus Christ for myself, every lovely blessing I possess will wither and die.
- Salvation through Him – “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst,” John 4:14
- Labor for Him – “Ye shall be witnesses unto me,” Acts 1:8
- A walk with Him – “Abide in me, and I in you,” John 15:4
- Identification with Him – “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings,” I Peter 4:13
- All-consuming love for Him – “With all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind,” Mark 12:30
Am I completely inundated with Him? Have I gained a piece of land that others fought for, and failed to put any passion or effort into keeping it alive? Achsah and Othniel did keep their inheritance alive – not just Caleb’s property, but Caleb’s faith. Later, as Israel’s sin causes them to suffer at the hands of their enemies, God puts His spirit upon Othniel and raises him up as a deliverer – a hero in his own right.
“And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.” – Isaiah 58:11. I don’t want this heritage just handed to me. I want God’s power on my life, so that it thrives all my life and beyond.
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