Joshua and Caleb – A Thought on Leaders

Joshua, Moses’ aide, the chosen leader to take Israel into the Promised Land is truly an outstanding person.  He does not have many negative things written about him, and the incident with the Gibeonites is the only major problem he has.  He is only one of the two “fighting men” who left Egypt that crossed the Jordan.

Caleb, the other faithful witness, is the other “fighting man” who made it into the Land.  He was a leader in the Tribe of Judah and probably had a great influence on Othniel, the first judge (Judges 3: 7).

Leaders who are called of God are really hard to find.  Many people do hold offices and fill a need but “Generals” are really rare.  We read about these two men but we don’t think about the numbers and percentages associated with them crossing into the Promised Land.  Exodus 12: 37 says there were 600,000 fighting men who left Egypt; that makes Joshua 0.00016% of that number and Joshua and Caleb 0.0003% of the total number of men who walked through the Red Sea.  Moses had picked other leaders to help him judge the tribes so there were people who helped, but the “Generals” really are hard to find.

Tribes of Israel – Judah

Judah is the fourth son of Jacob and Leah and became the family leader. His name means “praise” because Leah decided to praise God at the birth of this son. The tension in this family that is reflected in the names of the sons is astonishing; the lesson here is don’t marry sisters:-)

His first recorded act after being tapped to be family leader was to sell Joseph to the Ishmaelites; so that they would profit from the loss of a brother. I read the story in chapter 38 as occurring quickly but Er, the first born, would have been only thirteen when Joseph became ruler of Egypt so the incident with Tamar must have been around the beginning of the famine. (a movie made an interesting point that he moved out to get away from a grieving Jacob) Remember Tamar is a grandmother of Jesus which is why this part is included in Scripture. He does seem to take a positive lead of the family in chapter 43 when he repeats the deal Reuben tried to make with Joseph. He is the main spokesman in chapter 44:16 and Jacob sent him for directions in 46:28.

Jacob at the end of Genesis leaves this blessing for Judah: Genesis 49:“Judah, your brothers will praise you; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons will bow down to you.
You are a lion’s cub, O Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness—who dares to rouse him?
10 The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his.
11 He will tether his donkey to a vine, his colt to the choicest branch; he will wash his garments in wine, his robes in the blood of grapes. 12 His eyes will be darker than wine, his teeth whiter than milk.

That blessing pretty well covers everything: family leadership, authority over his enemies, personal wealth and good looks.

The two main people from Judah in the Exodus story are Bezalel, the artist, found in Exodus 35:30 and Caleb, the faithful spy, first mentioned in Numbers 13:6. Both of these men are again mentioned in 1 Chronicles 2 where the clans of Judah and the family of Jesse, David’s father, and David’s sons are discussed. This family history goes to chapter 4:23 and covers Jabez and his pray. It also covers the rulers after the Exile. This family tree is repeated again in Matthew 1, which is Joseph’s line, and again in Luke 3:23, which is Mary’s family line.

Deuteronomy 33:And this he (Moses) said about Judah: “Hear, O Lord, the cry of Judah; bring him to his people. With his own hands he defends his cause.
Oh, be his help against his foes!”

Jesus is from Judah through David’s son Nathan, brother of Solomon. In one sense much of the Old Testament is about that family; 1 & 2 Samuel, much of 1 Chronicles and the books of the Kings and 2 Chronicles covers that family. While the prophets spend many of their words talking about Jesus and His coming.

Pictures are from http://www.freebibleimages.org/illustrations/http://www.biblepicturegallery.com/Pictures/David.htm

Fruit and Nuts – Grapes + Recabites

Grapes, raisins, vines/branches, and wine

When it comes to symbolism what better icon is there than the grape plant for representing the Church of Jesus?  Jesus used it in parables, it is part of our communion and it is referred to throughout Scriptures. Now as with most symbols you can attach several meanings to grapes and its vines; I am going to look at a few and let God reveal others to you.

  1. Part of Communion – The wine is to represent the Blood of Jesus. * Sorry, I did not say grape juice! I do go to a church that uses grape juice but ancient Israel would have had to ferment it in order to keep it. Several churches I know use grape juice so as to not have weaker Christians stumble and I am good with that!* But wine is a “living drink” having come from many individual grapes all put together and joined by yeast (it does not have to symbolize sin) to become something new. Yeast in Luke 13:21 is used as a picture of the Kingdom of God.
  2. Jesus refers to Himself, as the Vine and we, the Church, are the branches. John 15:5
  3. Nazirites – People separated to God for a season could not eat or drink any part of the grape plant while under the vow. (Look in Numbers 6 and remember that Samson was a Nazirite and so was John the Baptist, probably.) Interesting type and shadow, that people in the Old Testament who choose to get close to God had to give up grapes, a symbol for the church.
  4. Medicine – In 1 Timothy 5:23 Paul urges Timothy to use a little wine because of his stomach; the alcohol can kill germs.
  5. The vine in Judges 9: 12+13 – refuses to rule over other plants so that it can do its job. I did not find any reference to a “vine” that was not grape.
  6. Misuse of wine – I guess the one that stands out is Noah getting drunk after the Flood. Proverbs 20: 1- “Wine is a mocker” (NIV) speaks for its self or Proverbs 23:29-35, “When will I awake so I can get another drink.”
  7. Raisins – They are grapes with most of the water (Holy Spirit) taken out of them but they still can revive a weak individual. Ex. 1 Samuel 30:12

However, you view wine drinking is between you and Jesus but the grape plant and its fruit are and always will be part of Church symbolism.

The picture of the grapevine is from http://free-extras.com/images/growing_grapes-5434.htm

Recabites (NIV) or Rechabites (KJV)

First, my apology to anyone who is not familiar with American slang; the word “nut” can carry several meanings and for this blog, it is someone who is crazy (at least according to worldly standards).

The main story of the Recab family is found in Jeremiah 35. Here the prophet Jeremiah is instructed by God to have all of the men of the family come to the Temple and serve them wine. No pressure right, THE MAN of God invites you to church and expects you to join in “the boys night out” he is throwing. They refuse and state that they don’t drink because of a long-standing family tradition. (Drinking alcohol is not the point but it could be; I know it is a very volatile topic. I don’t drink because it is one thing that God delivered me from when I got saved. I have found out through the years that it is not me who is uncomfortable with not drinking but the drinkers around me.) They also state another family tradition of not owning houses or planting fields. Now all of this combined for some people would qualify them as “NUTS”, no “American Dream” of your own house; then to top all of that off they tell the man of God, NO.

So who were these Recabites who would say no when put into such a pressure situation? According to 1 Chronicles 2:55 they are one of the family groups that came from Caleb, the faithful spy in the Exodus story. Now there are several “Recabs” in the Bible and not all of them are from Caleb and when you read verse 55 you may recognize Kenites and again there are several groups with this name that do not seem to be related. But more specifically they may have come from the Jehonadab who sided with Jehu in 2 Kings 10 (it makes you wonder if they are part of the 7000 in 1 Kings 19) to get rid of Ahab and the prophets of Baal. So taking a stand and following God was a long time family tradition for the Recabites.  And in Jeremiah 35:19 God honors them because they honored the instructions of their ancestors. With a promise to always have a family member who serves God!

The picture of the Recabites is from http://lavistachurchofchrist.org/Pictures/StandardBibleStoryReadersBook5/images/scan0017.jpg