Their Problems And Ours

EasyEnglish Bible Studies that show that God is sufficient whatever the problem

Study 3

Caleb: The Problem Of Fear

by Raymond Brown, M.A., M.Th., Ph.D.

translated into EasyEnglish by Mary Read

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.


About these studies

 Bible passages about Caleb:

Numbers 13:1-14:38; 26:65; 32:11, 12;

Deuteronomy 1:34-38;

Joshua 14:6-14; 15:13-19.


We should not just study problems that we might have. Christians help other people with their problems. We will study some of these. The first two studies were about Job and Moses. Their difficulties were personal. Now we will study Caleb.

Caleb ‘always obeyed the *Lord’. (Read Deuteronomy 1:36; Joshua 14:8-9.) Moses sent him, and 11 other men, to look at the land. But most of them were very much afraid. They also made the rest of the people feel their great fear. They ‘told the people things that made them afraid...’. (Read Joshua 14:8.) Caleb was free from fear. He used his strong trust in God to help God’s people. They were full of pain and despair. Caleb wanted them to trust God instead.

This study could be important to you. Maybe you are not afraid yourself. But the *Lord God wants you to help those who are afraid. Yours is a service like Caleb’s. You have something to say to people who are afraid. In the present times, people are certainly full of fear.

Paul Tillich lived from 1886 to 1965. He wrote about 3 types of worry. There is the worry about fate and death. There is the worry about two feelings. The feelings are about two lacks. There is the lack of inner satisfaction. There is the lack of meaning to life. The third type of worry is about being guilty and deserving punishment.

People do not always express their fears immediately. Then, their sense of need can be so great that they do speak. They tell someone else about their fears and worries. How great if that ‘someone’ is a Christian! What an opportunity! We can tell them what we know about God. We can tell them the good news about Jesus.

The main chapters that we will study here are Numbers 13-14. These 2 chapters can show us some important Bible principles.

1 Total surrender to God

Surrender means to give oneself completely to God. This is the first thing to take us towards peace. It seems a very plain truth. But people neglect it. Caleb said that the people were afraid. ‘But’, he said, ‘I completely followed the *Lord.’ (Read Joshua 14:8.)

Many of the people did not trust in God. (Read Deuteronomy 1:31-32.) The first language of our Old Testament (the first part of the Bible) was Hebrew. The Hebrew word here for ‘trust’ has a strong meaning. It means ‘to put firm confidence in’ the *Lord. It also means ‘cause to expect God’s help’. God says many things. He promises many things too. This is a strong appeal to believe what he says. It is an appeal to trust God without any kind of fear or worry. (Read Deuteronomy 1:21.)

The Bible says that Caleb ‘completely followed the *Lord’. The Hebrew word here is full of meaning. It describes a man who gives himself entirely and completely to God. He does this because he loves God so much. He wants to serve God only.

Our surrender to God is the only answer to the problem of fear. Remember what Isaiah 26:3 says. ‘You, *Lord, give him perfect peace ... because he puts his trust in you.’ ‘Perfect peace’ means that it could not be any better. Someone said: ‘I have made God the end of all my fears.’ So, I bring all my anxious worries to God. Then I leave them with him. God promises this ‘perfect peace’. But it is for those who trust him. It is for those who have confidence in God. They are sure of him.

Caleb certainly had this quality. The reason for his calm attitude is his surrender. (He has given himself completely to God.) Trust leads to being at peace. In the same way, if we do not trust, we do not have peace. There is a reason for this. When we give ourselves completely to God, we make a clear statement. It is this. The responsibility for our lives is not ours. God has total responsibility for our lives.

Caleb was able to make the people calm. (Read Numbers 13:30.) This was because he had a different attitude. (Read Numbers 14:24.) He was not like the people. They would not trust God. They would not obey God’s rules. Caleb gave himself completely to God.

Perhaps we want to bring practical help to somebody who is afraid. If we do, we must be like Caleb:

2 He was honest about the difficulties

But he was not afraid. Read the story in Numbers 13:17-33. People can try to escape from fear. They pretend to themselves that there are no difficulties. They might even persuade other people that there are none. But we cannot escape from fear in these ways.

Napoleon Bonaparte lived from 1769-1821. He was a famous soldier and ruler. There is a story about him. It was when he had a serious problem with his army. He would plan on paper how to move his army. He used soldiers and arms that he knew did not exist. His captains reminded him of the facts. The soldiers and arms were not there. Napoleon said to them: ‘Do you want to you rob me of my peace?’

We do not want that kind of peace. That is just trying to escape from reality. In the end, it leads to even more despair and pain.

No, Caleb reported the facts. (Read Numbers 14:7-8.) He did not avoid the problems. It was the way that he gave the facts. This was what was different. The other men saw only the difficulties of the Promised Land. They were depressed about them all. (Read Numbers 13:31-33.) Caleb reported about the good things too. He reminded the people of God’s power. (Note: To be depressed means to feel sad and full of despair.)

Moses asked the men to bring good news. He said ‘Bring some of the fruit of the land’ (Numbers 13:20). In this, Moses was accepting God’s word. (Read Exodus 3:8.) The land was full of many good things. God had clearly said it. Moses trusted God, and so did Caleb.

We must understand other people’s problems. This is most important. You may act as if a person’s problems are not serious. You may even pretend that they do not exist. You can never help someone in that way. Listen to what they say with sympathy. Let them know that you care about them. Then try to help them to see their problems as they really are. They need to see the bad things in proportion to the good things.

Often, a person in need does not see facts as they really are. They cannot help this. It is because they are feeling depressed. So, you should show the facts as they are. This is the greatest thing that you can do for them. You cannot do it quickly or in a careless way. Perhaps the person feels that you are in a hurry. If they do feel that, then it gives a definite impression to them. They feel that you do not really care. You do not have sympathy for them in their troubles.

Caleb did not pretend that the giants did not exist. But he was different from most of the men who were with him. He tried to report the good things too.

This leads to an important rule. Fear can come in a new and difficult situation. This rule is a way to attack this fear.

3 Search for something in it that will be useful

Search for something that will encourage. When someone is in trouble, he can only think of the giants. But there are always good things too! (Read Numbers 13:23.) You may be afraid. If so, then try to be quiet and speak to the *Lord. He can show you good things that he can bring out of the situation.

Moses told the 12 men to gather fruits of the land (Numbers 13:20). This can be picture language for today. Fresh experiences of God are like gathering fruits. They are good for you. You can enjoy them too. They are better than ordinary things.

You can have these experiences even when all is against you. You may feel depressed or lonely. Whatever your troubles, they will seem like giants. At these times, remember something important. It is this. The *Lord can use this experience to bring sure help. He can use it to bring you closer to him.

The Chinese have a word that means ‘crisis’. It comes from 2 word pictures. One of the words means ‘danger’. The other word means ‘opportunity’. Every crisis in life has an opportunity. It is an opportunity for us:

· to grow in the Christian life.

· to get to know the *Lord better.

· to become more useful in service and help to other people.

Caleb recognises something else:

4 Act in a definite and quick way to defeat fear

Caleb says: ‘Let us go there at once’. (Read Numbers 13:30.) Remember how God called Moses in the previous study. God says: ‘Now therefore go...’. (Read Exodus 4:12.)

We may have fears and worries. We may feel depressed. These things can easily become worse in our lives. We should aim to overcome them immediately. We can only do this with the help of the *Lord Jesus Christ.

Talk to yourself. (Read Psalm 42:5, 11.) Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a famous Bible teacher and writer. One of his helpful books is ‘*Spiritual *Depression’. He shows the difference between two possibilities. You could let your moods and feelings dictate to you. Or you could talk to yourself in a confident way. ‘Why am I so sad? Why am I so upset? I should wait for God’s help.’ You may be feeling depressed. If so, do not let that mood control what you say to yourself.

Caleb’s friends were very afraid.

5 Caleb reminds them of their resources, which did not have any limits

(Read Numbers 13:30, 31.) ‘We are well able’, Caleb says. ‘We are not able’, say his friends. Ask yourself which group you belong to. One group deserves honour. They are those who are well able. Do not belong to the miserable group of those who are not able.

Caleb’s words are important. He said, ‘We are well able’. This does not mean that he had confidence in himself. He did not have the wrong idea of their military power either. No. He was emphasising where their power came from. It came from firm confidence in God’s power.

Friend, whatever your trouble, ‘God is able’. The New Testament (the second part of the Bible) speaks about this many times. Some examples are: Ephesians 3:20; Philippians 3:21; 2 Timothy 1:12; Hebrews 2:18; 7:25 and Jude 24.

Maybe you have many troubles. There is something very important to avoid.

6 Avoid always being sad about former troubles

It is easy to think about them all the time. It is not good to do this. It is a very natural thing to do. But it is certainly not a holy thing to do. Read Numbers 14:1-4. The people were trying to escape their present troubles. They did this by thinking of their past. They showed a serious lack of trust in God. They showed too that they were not grateful. They did this in a terrible way. This passage is like a sad song about the past. But it was false.

Earlier, the same people danced with delight. They sang of God’s goodness when he saved them. (Read Exodus 15:1-21.) Now they can only talk about death. There was:

·           death in Egypt, which they wished they had had. (Read Numbers 14:2.)

·           death in the desert, which they might have had. (Read Numbers 14:2.)

·           death in the Promised Land, which they were sure that they would have. (Read Numbers 14:3.)

You may be in some kind of trouble. You may be feeling very unhappy. Do not return to former sad times. You would just add them to your present troubles. You might do it like this. You say: ‘The last 2 years have been awful for me. It began with...’ This is not God’s way to see life.

If you made God the end of your fears at that time, leave them there. He was able to keep you in those difficult days. It is easy to forget this when we only think of the former troubles.

Caleb knew the thing that matters most in all of life’s experiences.

7 The most important thing is to please God

(Read Numbers 14:8.) Caleb said, ‘If we are pleasing the *Lord...’. Read Hebrews 11:5-6 too. God’s people were refusing his authority. They were just thinking about pleasing themselves. Caleb had a much better ambition. His desire was to give delight to God. He appealed to his friends not to refuse God’s authority. He reminded them that God loved them (Numbers 14:9).

There is something serious here for us to understand. If we always complain, we show our resistance against God. 1 John 3:22 is very important here. We must obey him and do the things that please him. We must make it our ambition to please him. (Read 2 Corinthians 5:9.)

8 We can succeed if we know that God is with us

It will be like this whatever our fears and troubles are. Caleb realised this great truth. It gives us courage to continue in every situation of life. ‘The *Lord is with us’, Caleb and Joshua declared. The people still refused to accept this truth. They picked up the stones at their feet. They were going to kill the brave men who appealed to them.

Then something wonderful happened. ‘The glory of the *Lord appeared.’ (The word ‘glory’ speaks about the power of God. It shows that God is very great. People usually saw it as a very bright light or fire.) Everyone could see that Caleb’s words were true. So, the angry crowd dropped their stones.

We can be certain that God is with us every day. So, we can be confident whatever happens to us.

There is one last thing to think about in this study. It comes from Caleb’s own experience:

9 God is with us

This makes us sure of God’s power in us. Let us finish this study by reading what Caleb himself says. He speaks about God’s goodness in Joshua 14:6-12. Notice especially what he says in Joshua 14:11-12. ‘I am as strong today as I was when Moses sent me. ...If the *Lord will be with me then I shall be able the *Lord said.’

You may have times of great trouble. You may sometimes think that you will never live through them. But God is able to help you. He is also ready to help you. Let this truth encourage us all in our troubles. Then, our experiences may help other people in their difficulties.

For Discussion

1.   God had promised Moses that he would give the Jews a land. He had already told Moses what it would be like. The land would have plenty of space. And it would be full of good things (Exodus 3:8).  So, why did Moses ask for such detailed information about the land (Numbers13:17-20)?

2.   Two men carried some of the plentiful fruit back to Moses (Numbers13:23). Is it possible that these two men were Caleb and Joshua? If so, why do you think that they did it? And why did none of the other 10 men carry the fruit?

3.   The report of ten of the men made the people afraid. How can we be sure that our conversation always encourages people? And how can we be sure that we never cause people to lose hope?

4.   Caleb reminded Joshua about a time that was many years before. Moses had sent 12 men to explore the land. And they included Joshua and Caleb. What did Caleb continue to believe about the land (Joshua 14:6-7)? But what must Caleb do? (Joshua 14:8- 15).

For More Discussion  

1.   The people saw the excellent fruit themselves. How could they be so extremely afraid? How would you try to help a believer who was afraid?

2.   God promised something to those who were less than 20 years old. (Read Numbers 14:29 and Deuteronomy 1:39).
They would be sure to enter the land safely. Why?

Word List (Words with a *)

depression ~ to feel or to be depressed.

spiritual ~ the part of life that is to do with the things of God.

Lord ~ a name that we call God or Jesus; we call God or Jesus Lord when we do what they say.


By full permission of author

EasyEnglish TRANSLATION:  Mary Read


© 1999-2014, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).

May 2003

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