Anytime the Bible repeats something three times in one chapter, it is safe to say it means something significant in the eyes of God.
In my quest to read the Bible from cover to cover in a year, I am currently in the book of Joshua. A few days ago I was reading through Chapter 14, which to be honest is not the most exciting chapter of the Bible. It’s part of an extended section of Scripture that’s all about how The Promised Land is divided up between the 12 tribes of Israel. So there’s lots of geography and boundary markers mentioned.
In the midst of talking about who gets which part of The Promised Land, it was Caleb’s turn to receive his allotment. Prior to saying which portion he received, the text turned its attention to Caleb’s walk with the Lord. In contrast to his fellow Israelites, He said, “I, however, followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly.” (Joshua 14:8). Then just two verses later the author is speaking about Caleb when the text says: “you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly.” (Joshua 14:10). And just four verses after that it says, “So Hebron has belonged to Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite ever since, because he followed the Lord, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly.” (Joshua 14:14).
So three times in a span of one chapter, it talks about how Caleb followed God — not halfheartedly — but wholeheartedly.
Since Scripture is inspired by God, the author of the book of Joshua wasn’t wasting ink or being redundant when he wrote what he wrote. God wanted to make sure the reader didn’t miss this. And we could easily miss it, if it was just mentioned one time. But when it says the same thing three times in back-to-back-to-back fashion, that’s a clue that we ought to pause and reflect and meditate on what God wants to say to us.
So as I prayed and reflected on these truths of Scripture, here is what I felt God leading me to share with you.
Caleb followed God wholeheartedly. And his wholehearted devotion to God led him to be a man of great faith. His wholehearted devotion to God led him to believe that God can be trusted to do unbelievable things (read Joshua 13). His wholehearted devotion to God impacted which parcel of The Promised Land he received (read Joshua 14:9). If his fellow countrymen would have been following God as wholeheartedly as Caleb, they would have immediately entered The Promised Land instead of wandering in the desert for 40 years (read Joshua 14). So Caleb’s wholeheartedly devotion to God was a big deal. It impacted his life. It changed his destiny.
Caleb followed God wholeheartedly. Can the same be same about me? About you?
Since I answered “no” and I bet you answered “no” as well, how do we move ahead?
To begin, spend some time reflecting on what things in your life you are more passionate about than you are about God…if you are extremely honest. In other words, what things in your life and in the world do you follow wholeheartedly? Which things did you follow with great passion in 2012? The presidential election? Your investment portfolio? Your favorite sports team? The latest gossip out of Hollywood? Your favorite TV show? News coverage of the Fiscal Cliff?
However you answered that question, fill that word or words in the blank below and begin to pray this prayer, “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in 2013, may You give me the desire to follow You wholeheartedly, with as much passion and devotion as I followed _________ in 2012.” Pray it every day of 2013 if you have to. And see what God does on your spiritual journey this year.
***Please join us this Sunday at The Eastside Vineyard Church. We’ll be continuing our verse-by-verse look at the gospel of Matthew. This week kicks off our journey into chapter 19, focusing on the hardness in our hearts. Come hungry! January 6. 10:30am. More info at tevchurch.org***