Caleb: Mr. Greatheart
September 13th, 1959 @ 10:50 AM
CALEB: MR. GREATHEART
Dr. W. A. Criswell
Joshua 14:6 – 14
9-13-1959 10:50 a.m.
During these last several weeks I have been especially preparing for the 8:15 o’clock Sunday morning messages delivered here in our first preaching hour. And after having preached through the books of the Pentateuch for several years, having finished the life of Moses, we begin this morning at the 8:15 o’clock service with the Book of Joshua. And it is because, I would think, of these last several weeks being devoted to an intensive study of the life of this warrior of God that the text this morning, as we begin our new year, is taken out of the Book of Joshua.
Regularly, ordinarily at this hour and at the 7:30 o’clock evening hour I am preaching through the Bible. I am now, after fourteen years, in the ninth chapter of the Book of Hebrews. We shall begin there tonight at 7:30 in the ninth chapter of the Book of Hebrews. But this morning is an especially prepared sermon for this hour of the beginning of our new year. I would entitle the message: Mr. Greatheart.
In the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Joshua is a lion-hearted man, a great-hearted man, a lion’s whelp. In the sixth verse of the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Joshua:
Then the children of Judah came unto Joshua in Gilgal: and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite said unto him, Thou knowest the thing that the Lord said unto Moses the man of God concerning me and thee in Kadesh-barnea.
Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh-barnea to espy out the land; and I brought him word again as it was in mine heart.
Nevertheless my brethren that went up with me made the heart of the people melt.
And Moses sware on that day, saying, Surely, surely the land whereon thy feet have trodden shall be thine inheritance, and thy children’s for ever, because thou hast wholly followed the Lord.
And now, behold, the Lord hath kept me alive, as He said, these forty and five years, even since the Lord spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old – eighty five years young.
As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, to go out, and to come in.
Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the Lord spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fenced: if so be the Lord be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the Lord said.
And Caleb had made his address.
And Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh Hebron for an inheritance.
Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb…unto this day, because that he wholly followed the Lord.
Now the thing that Caleb refers to is known to all of us, one of the most familiar stories in the Bible. When the spies came back, twelve of them, ten of them said, "The land is even as God has promised: flowing with milk and honey, a land of brooks and of water. Nevertheless, the people that are in it are strong and the cities are walled up to heaven and we cannot overcome them." And Caleb said, "Let us go up and possess it. We are well able." But the men that went up with him said, "We are not able, they are stronger than we." And the people of Israel began to lament as the ten spies said further, "We saw the giants, the son of Anak" [Numbers 13:26-32].
Now, in the first passage, I read to you where they lived. The Anakim, the sons of Anak, lived in Hebron. "We saw the giants there," the Anakim, the sons of Anak. "We were in our own sight as grasshoppers" [Numbers 13:33]. And naturally, so were they in their sight. But Moses sware that day, saying to Caleb, "Where the Anakim live, where the giants are, the mountain of Hebron, that shall be your possession" [Numbers 14:24; Joshua 14:9].
And forty and five years later, Caleb stands in the presence of his old fellow soldier, Joshua, and says, "assign it to me, give it to me. The Anakim are there. The sons of Anak are there. I’m eighty-five years old but God is faithful. Give it to me" [Joshua 14:10-12]. And he took it. "And Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb unto this day" [verse 14].
Now, that is a figure that is constantly followed in the Scriptures of the spiritual warfare of the people of God. And it is a figure and a type, not only in its battle, the fury of its conflict, but it is also a figure and a type of the odds that are against us: the Anakim are there. Did you ever notice when Jesus was speaking of discipleship, of the odds that He spake that were against us? "What king," talking to us, "going to war first does not sit down to consider whether he be able, with ten thousand, to meet him who cometh against him with twenty thousand?" [Luke 14:31]. Our Lord says there that the odds against us in the war are at least two for one.
In the passage that I had Brother Carter leadeth in reading, "My brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God" [Ephesians 6:10-11]. And in the Revelation, our Master is described as appearing in glory on a white horse, on His head, many crowns, His eyes as a flame of fire, His vesture dipped in blood, and the armies of heaven pouring forth behind our great Leader conquering and to conquer [Revelation 19:11-13]. You see, the inheritance is ours to take it. The inheritance is given to us to fight for it. It’s ours in the promise of God, but it is ours to take. Every inch is contested. There’s a son of Anak standing there. There are the Anakim behind him. And Mr. Greatheart, Caleb, must possess his inheritance through toil, through battle, and in war. We have a great assignment. We have a promise from God. We also have to take it. It is a war with us. It is a battle in our place, in our inheritance, in our promised land, in our city. It is a conflict for us.
I received a letter from the head of the department of evangelism. He said, "This coming year ought to be the greatest year in our First Baptist Church. And all of us who are leading the armies of our state in winning people to Christ are looking for the First Baptist Church to baptize at least five hundred this coming year, this year; five hundred." Usually we baptize about three hundred forty. One year we baptized about four hundred twenty. This year, "lead us out," says this soulwinner. "Lead us out! Let the First Baptist Church win at least five hundred to the Lord."
Why, the birth rate in the city, and the children that reach the age of accountability each year number thousands, and thousands, and thousands. The people that pour into this great metropolitan area, for us to win five hundred is a nominal figure but one we’ve never possessed. Out of the hundreds of thousands of people in this city that are in nobody’s Sunday school, untaught and untrained in matters of God, why would it be a far-visioned hope to say "Every Lord’s day we ought to have at least five thousand here being taught the Word of God?" At least five thousand in our Sunday school. Why should it be an unthought of thing to say that every Lord’s Day evening there ought to be at least two thousand here in our Training Union? Why should it be an unheard of thing to avow that this year there ought to be enlisted in our great music program in the church at least one thousand five hundred different people: little children, teenagers, young people, wonderful men and women. Why should it be thought an unheard of thing that the budget of this church this year should be one million dollars, and beyond that, our great offering to our building fund and our building debt? These things are for us to possess. They are pleasing to God. They honor our Lord. They are just over the river. The Anakim are there, the sons of Anak are there. It has to be taken in war and in battle. Every inch is contested.
Now, I realize our own human nature. It is so easy to say, "Oh, oh, but that is a difficult assignment! Could it be done, could it be done, never has been done, could it be done?" Well, when Samaria was shut up by Ben-hadad and the people were starving to death and one woman made a bargain with another woman, "Today we will boil my son and eat him, and tomorrow we will boil your son and eat him," and when the king of Samaria saw that, he rent his clothes [2 Kings 6:24-30]. He bowed down in despair, and, in his despair, Elisha the man of God said, "Tomorrow at this time, you can buy a bushel of fine flour for twenty – five cents and two bushels of barley for a nickel" [2 Kings 7:1]. And the nobleman upon whose arms the king leaned replied, "If God would make windows in heaven, such a thing could not be." And Elisha said, "Thou shalt see it tomorrow with thine eye" [2 Kings 7:2]. You will not partake of it for your lack of faith, but you will see it tomorrow. And he did. And he did.
When the Lord said, "Roll away the stone that the dead may come forth," even Martha replied, "Master, God Himself could not allay corruption. He has been dead four days. There’s a riot of disintegration on the inside, roll the stone away?" Jesus answered, "Said I not unto thee, ‘If thou wouldst believe, thou shouldst see the glory of God?’" [John 11:39-40]. Roll the stone away and let the dead come forth. It can be done.
I stood in front of the lodge in Zion National Park. And right across the little, beautiful, valley is a cliff, a sheer cliff three thousand feet high. And as I was looking at it, I noticed other people over there looking at it, folks over there looking at it, some of the old folks seated in the chairs in the lodge looking at it. Well, I looked at it for a while, bit after a while you get tired of looking at a cliff even though it’s three thousand feet high. So I turned my attention to other things. But they kept a-lookin’, and they kept a-lookin’, and they kept a-lookin’, and they kept a-lookin’. Well it got me curious so I walked over to this group and I said, "What you lookin’ at?" They said, "We’re watching those people climb down that cliff." I said, "You’re doing what?" "We’re watching those people climbing down that cliff."
I thought they were lunatics so I went over here. I said, "What you lookin’ at?" They said, "We’re watching those people climb down that cliff." Well, I thought they were soft in the head, so I went over to the old folks. I said, "What are you looking at?" They said, "We’re watching those people climb down that cliff. I looked, and I looked, and I looked, and I looked. I couldn’t see anybody climbing down that cliff. And I said in my heart, "That’s silly even to think of. You couldn’t climb down that cliff. Three thousand feet straight down! Sheer. They just seeing things. They just all in some kind hallucination out there, the whole bunch of them."
The next day, I was in front of the lodge – same idiots out there looking up. This time, they had binoculars, some of them. I asked again, "What you looking at?" "We’re watching those people climb down that cliff." You can’t climb down a sheer cliff three thousand feet high. You just can’t do it. It couldn’t be done. They were seeing things. "Oh, no!" They said to me, "Look right up there."
"I’m looking up there."
"Well, don’t you see right there?"
"I’m looking right there."
"Well, don’t you see them?"
"No, I can’t see them." Well sir, I want you to know I said, "I’m not going to leave this place till I see whether these people are crazy or not out here." And lo and behold, that morning, like a little bitty statue, I picked out three people climbing down the sheer surface of that cliff; three of them. Why, if a man had said to me, "You can scale that thing," I’d have said, "You are out of your mind." But it can be done.
When the first steamer crossed the Atlantic, they delivered to the American side a book of science. Which book of science was written to prove that it would be impossible to put enough coal in a steamship to propel it across the ocean. It was scientifically, it would sink and go to the bottom. When the first steamer crossed the ocean, they delivered the book of science across to America. It can be done.
Like the bumblebee. Scientifically, by all the laws of aerodynamics, he can’t fly. But he doesn’t know it so he just flies anyway. Oh, to have the spirit, to have the spirit of the men of America who built the Panama Canal!
Don’t send us back to a life that’s tame again,
We who have shattered a continent’s spine;
Easy work – Lord, oh, we couldn’t do that again.
Haven’t you something that’s more in our line?
Got any rivers you say are not crossable?
Got any mountains you can’t tunnel through?
We specialize in the wholly impossible,
Doing what "nobody ever could do."
[from "At Your Service: The Panama Gang" by Berton Braley]
Then there are some of us, and I have met this all my life, and in every section of our denomination. "You’ve got a numbers neurosis. That’s what’s the matter with you." Actually, what that is, and I’ve studied it for years, actually what that is, is a smokescreen, a cover up for self-satisfaction, for supercilious self-righteousness, for selfish indifference. "We are the elect. We are the quality. We are the elect, our little group. The great masses of people out there lost, but we have quality."
While I was away, I read in the newspaper an address of a great labor leader here in America. He was speaking in Texas. One of the leaders of the AFLCIO and he said, speaking to ministers here in Texas, he said, "The trouble with the ministry is it has forgotten the common people. It has turned its back on the masses of mankind. They’re very superior in their elect, in their little groups of quality. But the great rank and file of people they don’t touch, and they don’t care for them."
I also read an address by the man who heads the prison system in Texas. And he said, "When I came to this position, there were five thousand inmates. There are now," he said, "eleven thousand and growing astronomically." And he said, "The reason for it lies in this: the great influx of people into the cities. Back home they were substantial citizens. The boys worked on the farms, the girls helped with the dishes and worked in the house. But in the city, they’re on the street, have nothing to do, and the crime rate rises and rises."
You’re blind if you haven’t kept up with the teenage gangs that have brought terror to the people who walk the sidewalks of New York. Tell me we don’t have an assignment! Little bunch of us gathered over here, happy in ourselves, superior in ourselves. Outside these walls, and down these streets, and up these alleys are people by the thousands that are pouring into this city, and they are ours to take or the devil’s, one or the other! We win them or he does.
I would love to have a people who forgot about the number as such but whose hearts were invest in a great drive to win people to Christ, to get youngsters into Sunday school, in the recreational program, in the fellowship of the love and the patience of Jesus. O, may the Lord help us and give us victory!
Let me tell you something. If Jesus’ words had been confined to a little group, it would have died under the debris of the walls of Jerusalem, and you would have never heard about Him. Jesus taught a little group in order to make ready for Pentecost. And Pentecost made ready for Antioch. And Antioch flung the gospel message of Christ over the civilized world. That’s why you’ve heard about it!
Let me tell you. Just go to the Republicans and the Democrats and say, "We believe in quality. We may not have but ten votes at the polls but, brother, ten qualified people, we tell you." And the Democrats poll fifty million. Guess who will be president of the United States next time? It’ll be a Democrat. It’s going to be a Democrat anyway, I guess. Whoever has got the votes, got the country and got the city, and got the nation, and got the government, and got everything.
Let me tell you something about where you came from, Mel Carter. Boston, Massachusetts is one of the strangest cities you’ll ever visit. Harvard College is there, strung out all up and down the Charles River. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, it’s there strung up and down the rest of the Charles River. Wellesley College is there. They’ve got about thirty-eight institutions there. All of those people are very smug, and they’re very intellectually able and complacent. But guess who has the city? Guess who has it. I asked them, "Why in the world is it here in Boston? You’d never know Harvard was here. You’d never know MIT was here. You’d never know Wellesley. You’d never know any of those thirty-eight other colleges were there. Why is it?" And they said to me, "It’s because the Roman Catholics have the families and the children! And they run the town. They run the city, they run the government, they run the police force, they run the aldermen. . . They run it all! Whoever has the people has the nation, and they run it!
Don’t talk to me about a little group of us getting over here, "We’re the quality. We’re the elite. We are the elect. We may not be many but we are much." Whoever has the people has our nation. Why couldn’t it be Caleb’s? The Anakim has it: Caleb, it’s yours to take it.
Oh, I hate to quit! I’ve just started. May I say just one other thing? O Lord, that there could keep within us a flame of fire, a burning. Interested, interested, interested, not bored to death, not here for respectability’s sake. Interested. In the days of the week as we have opportunity preparing for this hour, and when people come down that aisle, glad in your soul to see them respond.
I want to tell you something that I did. Brady, I like to hear an educated intellectual minister preach. I don’t mind his education. It’s all right. You know, you’ve got to do it nowadays. But, oh, I love to get out where a fellow is untouched by all of the thin veneer of sophistication, and he’s just himself and away he goes.
I saw a little church on the edge of the piny woods in East Texas. On a Sunday night I attended the services. A fellow got up to preach; great, big raw-boned fellow. Oh, what a good hand he’d make on the farm. Got up to preach; He was as illiterate, and unlearned, and untaught, and untutored as any minister you’d ever hear. But he had read the Bible, and he knew the Word of God, and his heart was aflame with the Lord.
And they were getting ready for their revival meeting beginning that week. And he was preaching on soulwinning. And he was trying to get his people to shake the bushes for the Lord. And he told this story. He said, says he, he said, "You know a fellow came by with a bird dog, stopped at a man’s barn, said to the farmer, he said, ‘Say, mister, I want to let my bird dog out, let him run around a little while.’ ‘Oh, fine,’ said the farmer. ‘Well,’ said the fellow, ‘You see that stubble field over there? I’m going to let my bird dog out in there.’ ‘Fine,’ said the farmer. ‘That’s all right.’
"So the fellow," he says, "let out his bird dog and that bird dog hit that stubble field and" in his words, "his tail began to wiggle and his nose began to smell." I tell you, what those fellows can say! I can just see that bird dog with his, his tail began to wiggle and his nose began to smell! And he said, "He was going all over that stubble field, and the farmer looked at him in amazement. He turned to the fellow and he said, ‘What’s that dog doing?’ And the fellow said, ‘That dog’s a huntin’ birds!’ ‘Why,’ said the farmer, ‘there ain’t been no birds in that field for fifteen years.’ ‘That doesn’t make any difference’ said the bird dog man. He said. ‘It’s bred in him to hunt birds. It’s born in him to hunt birds, and when he gets out on the ground, he’s a huntin’ birds.’" And that preacher said, "That’s the way it ought to be when we love God and when we’re saved. It ought to be born in us. And it ought to be bred in us to hunt birds, to be on the lookout for souls."
Then he began to talk about his grandpap. Oh, I wish I could mimic the tone and the language of that fellow. He began to talk about his grandpap. He said his grandpap had nine kids. And the nine kids grew up, and they were godless, and his grandpap was godless. "But on a day," he says, he says, "his grandpap got religious." His grandpap was gloriously converted. Then he describes that.
Then he says the first thing his grandpap did was, he turned to his nine children, and he won his nine children to the Lord. Then he describes that. Then he says his grandpap turned to the grandchildren, and he won his grandchildren to the Lord. And he said, "Six of those grandchildren are preaching the gospel today," of which he was one.
And then he describes his old grandpap. He says his old granddad gathered all of his children around, and he said, "Children, I want you to meet me in heaven." And all of the nine children said, "Grandpap, we’ll meet you in heaven"; called the grandchildren there, and he says, "Grandchildren, I want you to meet me in heaven." And all the grandchildren said, "Grandpap, we’ll meet you in heaven." And when he told the story, all the brethren of the congregation said, "Amen!" And all the sisters of the congregation said, "Amen!" And my own heart said, "Amen!"
Ah! That’s why we’re here. That’s what we’re for. We’re like a bird dog; born in us, hunting birds, looking for souls.
Is there a family that doesn’t have the Lord? They are the object of our solicitude, and love, and prayers, and invitation. Are there children not in anybody’s Sunday school? Are there people outside the fold of God? This is our possessions. This is a mountain of the Lord to us. Come! Come! Come!
I must close; should have a long time ago. This morning, this beginning morning, in that great balcony round, is there a family you or one somebody you, give your heart to Jesus today, put your life with us in the fellowship of the church, would you come? There’s a stairway there, there, and there, down one of these stairwells, come and stand by me. On this lower floor, is there a family you, is there one somebody you, give your heart to Jesus today or put your life with us in the fellowship of this precious church, would you come, while we stand and while we sing our song?
CALEB: MR. GREATHEART
Dr. W. A. Criswell
Joshua 14:6 – 14
I. Land of Promise to be taken in war
II. Our conquest, our inheritance, our assignment
1. Winning souls for Christ
2. Teaching ministry
3. Giving program
III. Discouraging remarks of the ten
1. It cannot be doneâ€¦ "windows in heaven" 2 Kings 7:2
2. Smugness, complacency
3. Too difficult, discouraging