Follow Me: Caleb and Joshua as a Picture of Jesus

TODAY’S READING: NUMBERS 14-15

“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Found in Matthew 4:19, these are the first words that Jesus directly spoke to any of his disciples. Not coincidentally, Matthew records Jesus’ command to “follow me” immediately after the first words of Jesus’ ministry, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

In the gospels, there are 22 verses were Jesus says, “Follow me.”

Whenever Jesus finds a disciple, he says, “Follow me.”

To find your life, you must lose it.

Jesus says, “Follow me.”

In Matthew 10:38-39, Jesus says, “And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

To come after Jesus, you must take up your cross.

Jesus says, “Follow me.”

In Matthew 16:24-25, Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his for my sake will find it.”

To inherit eternal life, you must sell all that you have.

Jesus says, “Follow me.”

Mark 10:21 says, “And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

To not walk in darkness, you need the light of life.

Jesus says, “Follow me.”

In John 8:12, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

To believe, you must be a sheep that hears the shepherd’s voice.

Jesus says, “Follow me.”

In John 10:25-28, Jesus says, “The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give eternal life, and they will never perish, and no on will snatch them out of my hand.”

In order for the Father to honor you, you must serve Jesus.

Jesus says, “Follow me.”

In John 12:26, Jesus says, “If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.”

“FOLLOW ME” INTO DEATH TO HAVE LIFE

In Numbers 13, Moses sends 12 spies into the land of Canaan to see if it is as God promised. In the land, the spies found a single cluster of grapes so large that two men carried it on a pole. They also found pomegranates and figs.

After 40 days, the spies brought back with them the fruit of the land to show Israel. In Numbers 13:27, the spies said, “We came to the land which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.” There was life in the land.

But, there was a problem. There were people in the land who were strong. They were giants. Ten of the spies said it “is a land that devours its inhabitants.” The ten spies knew they were going to die in that land. Those 10 spies caused the whole nation of Israel to grumble. In Numbers 14:2-3, the whole congregation says, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and out little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back t o Egypt?

However, two spies saw something different. These two spies focused on the fruit and not the giants in the land. These two spies focused on the life and not the death. In Numbers 13:30, Caleb said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.”

Why was Caleb able to say this? The answer is in Numbers 14:24, which says, “But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it.”

There was death in the land. But, there was also life. Caleb heard the call of God. He heard God say, “Follow me.” Therefore, Caleb went into death. He picked up his cross. He lost his life so that he and his descendants after him could possess God’s life.

Earlier in Numbers 1-2, we read about all the men of war age 20 years old and upward. All these men grumbled against God. They did not hear God calling, “Follow me.” Therefore, they could not enter the land of Canaan. But, there were two exceptions – Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.

“FOLLOW ME”: 2 COMMANDS VS. 10 LAWS

10 vs. 2

How interesting!

Moses gave ten laws on tablets of stone in the old covenant. Jesus summed every law up in two commandments that are written on our hearts in the new covenant.

In Matthew 19:16-22, the rich young ruler asked Jesus what he had to do to have eternal life. Jesus told him to keep the commandments. So, the rich young ruler asked which ones. Then, Jesus basically listed the last six laws of the ten laws Moses gave. These six laws pertained to how we treat others while the first four pertained to our relationship with God.

The rich young ruler said he had done all those. He asked Jesus what he was still lacking. And, Jesus said sell everything you have and “Come, follow me.” It’s easy to see this passage focusing on material possessions and earthly wealth. But, to sell everything you have means to sell your whole life. Lose your life. Pick up your cross and deny yourself. The rich young ruler was unwilling to sell everything he had to follow the first four laws of Moses.

But, isn’t it interesting that Jesus’ initial response was six of the laws from Moses? The rich young ruler was doing those but knew he didn’t have eternal life. He knew it wasn’t the law, the ten commandments, that would lead him to eternal life.

In Luke 10:25-28, Jesus was asked by a lawyer what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus asked the lawyer, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” Notice carefully what Jesus asks the lawyer. Jesus asks him how does he read, or understand, the law. He doesn’t ask him simply to recite the law. Jesus asks the lawyer to tell him what the law means.

The lawyer answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your should and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” That is exactly the two commandments that Jesus fulfilled in his life and exactly the two commandments that Jesus told us to follow. Jesus said to the lawyer, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

Entering the land of Canaan is a picture of entering into eternal life. Jesus tells us that we enter life by following his two commandments of perfect love for God and neighbor and not by following Moses’ ten laws.

“FOLLOW ME”: 2 SPIES VS. 10 SPIES

Ten spies gave a bad report that caused the whole nation to grumble against God. But, two spies saw the fruit of the land. To enjoy the fruit of this land, these two spies were willing to die. These two spies knew the words of Jesus, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his for my sake will find it.”

What two tribes were these spies from?

Caleb was from the tribe of Judah. And, Joshua was from the tribe of Ephraim. Recall the sentences spoken over Judah and Ephraim when they were born.

Judah – “I will praise the Lord.”

Ephraim – “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”

Do you see what God is saying through the chiefs of these tribes that were willing to go into the land?

I will praise the Lord because he gave me life when I picked up my cross and heard his call, “Follow me.”

The chiefs from two tribes entered the promised land, eternal life, while the chiefs from 10 tribes died in the wilderness. All the people that entered the land, the wives and the children, followed the two chiefs that were willing to fall by the sword. All that people that entered Canaan, eternal life, followed Caleb and Joshua. Caleb and Joshua are a picture of Jesus.

“FOLLOW ME”: CALEB THE SON OF JEPHUNNEH

Caleb means faithful servant.

In Matthew 3:17, when Jesus was baptized “a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.'”

In Matthew 17:5, when Jesus was on the mount of transfiguration and Moses and Elijah disappeared “a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.'”

Jesus, the beloved Son, is a faithful servant to the Father.

As a faithful servant, Caleb gave a good report about the land of Canaan. He was a faithful witness to what he saw.

Revelation 1:5 says that Jesus is the faithful witness. Jesus truly revealed the Father, the God who is life.

Jephunneh is an interesting name. The root word that forms the name is pane, which means face. As a verb, it means to turn to. Pane is the root word for pinnah. One of the meanings of pinnah is cornerstone. The “Je” at the beginning of the name is a syllable found in many names that means the Lord or of the Lord. So, a possible meaning of Jephunneh is the Lord of the cornerstone.

Caleb is the faithful servant, the son of the Lord of the cornerstone.

Caleb is a picture of Jesus we are to follow.

“FOLLOW ME”: JOSHUA THE SON OF NUN

The name Joshua comes from the root word sawa, which means to call for help. His name also has the prefix that means the Lord or of the Lord. So, Joshua’s name means to call to the Lord for help or the Lord saves.

Nun is both a Hebrew letter and word. It means to propagate or increase. The pictograph, the symbol, for the letter nun is a sprouting seed. One possible translation of “the son of Nun” is “the son of life.”

Joshua gives us another beautiful picture of Jesus. Here we see Jesus as the Lord that the saves, the son of life.

Notice too that Joshua was Moses’ assistant. He was always with Moses – on Mt. Sinai when he received the ten commandments, in God’s presence in the tent of meeting, etc. Moses represents the law. Joshua represents the Lord that saves. Moses dies, unable to take the people into the land of Canaan, eternal life. But, Joshua, the Lord that saves, the son of Life, leads the people into eternal life.

“FOLLOW ME”: FALL BY THE SWORD

Recall that the nation of Israel was reluctant to go into the land of Canaan because they thought that God was bringing them there to “fall by the sword.” They refused to go in because of this. But, Caleb and Joshua were willing to walk right into that sword.

What is the picture here?

Canaan is a picture of eternal life. To enter eternal life, Jesus says, “Follow me.” But, to do so we have to pick up our cross, deny ourselves, lose our lives so that we can find them.

We need to face the sword that is the land of Canaan willingly. But, that sword is Jesus. By falling under him, we can partake of all the fruit of eternal life.

In Hebrews 4, we read that Joshua actually failed to take Israel into the true rest of God. It was just a picture of what is possible for us. But, it wasn’t the true rest as there still remains a Sabbath for the people of God. Hebrews 4:11-13 says, “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God [Jesus] is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.”

Did you notice that the writer said the word of God that divides soul and spirit is a he – “no creature is hidden from his sight?”

Jesus, the Word of God, living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, separates all that is of the earth in us from all that is of heaven. It’s a profound truth that God creates by separating. Just look at Genesis 1 and John 1.

So, let us hear the words of Jesus, “Follow me.”

Let us willingly come to Jesus, the Word of God. Let us fall under the sword so that we can lose our life to find his in us.

 

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