Saturday, September 27, 2008

Father, Give Me Springs

I love how God writes. Just when I think the scripture is boring because it lists all these names I can't pronounce living in all these places that have been renamed using all these measurements that aren't used anymore, He throws in a snippet--then repeats it word for word somewhere else in scripture--and piques my interest again.

Both Joshua 15:13-19 and Judges 1:12-15 tell the story of Caleb's daughter Acsah. Before we get to the story, let's talk about one of the main characters. Caleb was one of the two spies who urged the Israelites to enter the Promised Land when they first arrived there. (Joshua was the other spy who said, "Let's go!") The other ten spies were too afraid of the giants to enter the land (Numbers 13:25-33). Because they didn't believe God, they all died (Numbers 14:36-38), and Israel turned around and went back into the desert, where they wandered for 40 years. (Joshua and Caleb were the only two men of that generation of Israel who ever got to go into Canaan.) (Numbers 14:20-25)

What does God say about Caleb?
*He believed God and was ready to act on that belief (Numbers 13:30)
*He was the first man from the tribes of Israel named to help divide the land when they reached it (Numbers 34:16-29)
*At age 85, he asked Joshua for the hill country—where the giants lived—as his tribe’s inheritance (Joshua 14:6-15)
*He wholeheartedly followed the Lord, the God of Israel (Joshua 14:14)

Now, back to the story. Let's look at the text in Joshua 15. I've included it here out of the New Living Translation:

13The LORD instructed Joshua to assign some of Judah's territory to Caleb son of Jephunneh. So Caleb was given the city of Arba (that is, Hebron), which had been named after Anak's ancestor. 14Caleb drove out the three Anakites—Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai—descendants of Anak. 15Then he fought against the people living in the town of Debir (formerly called Kiriath-sepher). 16Caleb said, "I will give my daughter Acsah in marriage to the one who attacks and captures Kiriath-sepher." 17Othniel, the son of Caleb's brother Kenaz, was the one who conquered it, so Acsah became Othniel's wife. 18When Acsah married Othniel, she urged him to ask her father for an additional field. As she got down off her donkey, Caleb asked her, "What is it? What can I do for you?" 19She said, "Give me a further blessing. You have been kind enough to give me land in the Negev; please give me springs as well." So Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs.

The land that was up for grabs was the southern portion of Judah, the Negev. It was arid, dry, barren land. It was the southern land down by the Red Sea. Othniel conquered the city and won the land and the girl. The girl was Caleb’s daughter Acsah.

When I imagine the exchange that took place between this father and daughter, it just warms my heart. Caleb had given Othniel the field already when he asked Acsah (the literal translation) “What for yourself?” She didn’t even have time to say, “Daddy. . .” before he asked her, “What can I do for you?” I can just see the twinkle in Caleb’s eye.

Isn’t that so like God? We have a heavenly Father who is just waiting to bless us! Yes, He knows our needs, and He is faithful to provide our every need.

Let's look at the "field" Caleb had given Acsah. What was wrong with it? It needed water. How did Acsah deal with the situation? She didn't moan or complain; she simply went to her father. First, she acknowledged how he had already blessed her; "You have been kind enough to give me the land in the Negev." Then she asked for what she needed to make the land fruitful: "please give me springs as well" (Joshua 15:19).

Acsah asked her daddy for an extra blessing: springs to make the land he'd already given her fruitful. She got more than she asked for: Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs.

Othniel got more than he signed on for, too. Judges 3:7-11 tells the rest of his story:

7The Israelites did what was evil in the LORD's sight. They forgot about the LORD their God, and they worshiped the images of Baal and the Asherah poles. 8Then the LORD burned with anger against Israel, and he handed them over to King Cushan-rishathaim of Aram-naharaim. And the Israelites were subject to Cushan-rishathaim for eight years.

9But when Israel cried out to the LORD for help, the LORD raised up a man to rescue them. His name was Othniel, the son of Caleb's younger brother, Kenaz. 10The Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he became Israel's judge. He went to war against King Cushan-rishathaim of Aram, and the LORD gave Othniel victory over him. 11So there was peace in the land for forty years. Then Othniel son of Kenaz died.

He completed the task and received the agreed-upon prize: the city, the field, and the girl. He received a blessing from God and a significant place in history.

So let me ask you (and you ask me): What do you need in your life to make your worship of God more fruitful? Do you need time? space? gumption?

Jesus said:
*Your heavenly Father knows what you need before you ask Him (Matthew 6:31-33)
*Ask anyway, and ask boldly (Matthew 7:7-8 and Luke 11:9-10)
*Anything we ask in Jesus name, He will give it to us (John 14:13-14)
*If we as parents know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask (Luke 11:13)

Father God, You have blessed us so abundantly by giving us Jesus and His Holy Spirit to redeem us and empower us. Please give us springs as well. Show us what we need to be more fruitful in our worship of You. Please give us the courage to ask You for those springs.

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