Give Me That Mountain! or Why Caleb Is One of My Favorite People In the Entire Bible
The following devotional was given to the staff of the Creation Museum on Thursday, March 19, 2009. The text has been reconstructed from my notes.
My name is Rev. Tony Breeden and I’m here to tell you a little bit about the ministry of CreationLetter.com, and to give a devotional.
The Creation Letter Project or CreationLetter.com is the Biblical Creationist response to Dr. Michael Zimmerman‘s pro-evolution Clergy Letter project. So often it is helpful to know a little about the problem before we discuss the remedy, so let me tell you a bit about Zimmerman’s Clergy Letter Project.
The pro-evolution Clergy Letter Project began in 2004 with less than 200 signatures. Dr. Zimmerman used those few signatures to fight the Grantsburg, Wisconsin school board’s proposal that “all theories of origins” be taught in district schools. He succeeded in cowing the Grantsburg school board. Instead of teaching “all theories of origins,” they settled for teaching both the “strengths AND weaknesses” of evolution – but evolution only.
Since then, the Clergy Letter has collected nearly 12,000* signatures from pastors and other clergy affirming:
- That “religious truth is of a different order than scientific truth,” that they’re “two different, but complementary forms of truth.”
- That “an overwhelming majority” of Christians “do not read the Bible literally as they would a science textbook.”
- That “beloved stories like Creation, Adam and Eve, and Noah and the Ark convey timeless truths” in the tradition of Aesop’s fables.
- That evolution is “a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests.”
- That to reject evolution or even suggest competing theories is to “deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children.”
In short, every line of the Clergy letter reads like it came straight out of the Big Bad Book of Standard Bogus Evolution Arguments.
The Clergy Letter Project has promoted Evolution Sundays since 2006, expanding the concept to an entire Evolution Weekend in 2008 to accommodate “other faith traditions.” Each year on the Sunday nearest Charles Darwin’s birthday, they preach evolution and undermine the authority of God’s Word from our very pulpits.
In the case of TeachThemScience.org, a website co-sponsored by arch-humanist Paul Kurtz’ Center For Inquiry, the Clergy Letter is seeking to combat “anti-evolution” proposals and thereby enforce the monopoly of evolution in the Texas science curriculum. have you noticed a lot of these “science advocacy” groups are no more than evolution enforcement groups? On March 25, 27 [next week], Texas will decide its science curriculum standards for the next ten years. Texas is so big that publishers will change their textbooks to meet Texas standards. Many other states also adopt these textbooks. Ironically, what Zimmerman is fighting through TeachThemScience.org is a proposal that allows both the strengths and weaknesses of evolution to be taught in public schools. I remind you that when he used the Clergy Letter to brow beat the Grantsburg, Wisconsin school board down from teaching “all theories of origins” to just evolution’s “strengths and weaknesses, he called it a victory. Need we more proof that they will not stop until evolution is taught as unchallenged dogma?
The problem is this: Not only is it a pack of lies, the Clergy Letter is often cast in our faces as evidence that Young Earth Creationists are somehow an irrelevant minority, because there has not yet been a sustained, definitive response in kind.
I think it’s disgusting that this modern-day Goliath gets to mock the armies of the Living God. So I decided to do something about it…
So here’s what the Creation letter Project [CreationLetter.com] is doing.
We’re proactively seeking signatures, particularly from ministers, for the Creation letter, affirming that evolution is not observable, testable, repeatable science. It’s a belief about the past – a lie which undermines both Biblical authority and the foundational basis of the Gospel. Likewise, the creation letter affirms that the Bible stands as the revealed, inerrant Word of God. As such, the conclusions and speculations of fallible, finite men should be weighed in light of the Revelation of an infinite, infallible God – not the other way ‘round! Then we ask signers to affirm the truth of a Biblical 6-day Creation and to discourage anyone from celebrating or endorsing an Evolution Sunday.
We’re also promoting Creation Sundays. While the most recent one is past, we’re already planning next year’s. Since it will fall on Valentine’s Day, our proposed theme for 2010 is Who Do You Love?, applying Matthew 6:24 to the concept of trying to serve two masters or holding two opposing authorities in your life, because it all comes down to man’s word or God’s Word as our ultimate authority. We have lots of ideas on our website to help churches celebrate a Creation Sunday, and we’re making pastors aware that they have the opportunity to hold a Creation Sunday during our Summer of Creation initiative.
As part of this Summer of Creation, we’re actively encouraging churches and youth groups to schedule creation speakers and conferences, to host Creation VBS and youth camps, to visit local Creation Museums such as this one, and to hold Creation Sundays in order to blunt the impact of the so-called “Year of Darwin.” Our primary focus is youth. Churches typically focus on youth during the summer, through VBS and youth camps. We now have the opportunity to evangelize and tell them the truth about evolution. All school year long, they’re indoctrinated and saturated with a one-sided case for evolution as scientific fact. Statistics demonstrate that kids who are taught evolution as scientific truth largely go on to reject religious truth. I’ve seen this with my own eyes.
I literally watched one day as a a table full of boys in a typical middle school cafeteria made the awful decision to become atheists that day. There were 8 or 9 of them. Each one was saying, “I think I’m an atheist. I think I’m gonna be an atheist, too.” Except one. One dissenting voice said, “I believe in God.”The conversation went back and forth for a while, but the dissenting voice persisted. Finally one of the born-again atheists challenged his friend, “So what if you believe in God? That’s YOUR problem.”
That day was Darwin Day, Feb 12, 2009, and I don’t think it was a coincidence.
Our secondary focus is on educating the Church. The USAmerican Church is being choked to death by thorns of complacency and by trivial pursuits. The problem isn’t Zimmerman and the near-12,000 clergy who’ve signed his letter of compromise; the problem is the silence of the rest of Christendom. We have believers who just don’t think it’s important, while our children reject Christianity largely due to a belief in evolution as scientific fact. We have churches who think the entire issue is too political, too divisive. And we still have the do-nothing “moderate” that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. lamented over in his Letter from the Birmingham Jail, the mugwumps who sit on the fence with their mugs hanging over one side and their wumps over the other, who forbid others to enter and neither enter in themselves. Little wonder that G. K. Chesterton declared that “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried!”
The key is education, prayer and action. The Church needs to be made aware of the problem and the importance of the fight for Biblical Creation. We need prayer, for only God can change hearts. And we need to take action for we never gained anything for God by timidity or faithlessness.
Because we practice what we preach, we have other things in the works. We’re putting the finishing touches on our downloadable Defending Genesis bulletin inserts, free for any church to use during our Summer of Creation. We’re also in the planning stages of the up-coming WV Creation Conference. Basically, we’re doing whatever God puts before us and we’re expecting Big things because we serve a Great Big God [Ecclesiastes 9:10].
Turn with me to Galatians 6:9. As our devotional this morning, I want us to consider this verse: “And let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
Not counting Jesus Himself, my favorite guy in the entire Bible is Caleb. You recall that at Kadesh-Barnea, Joshua, Caleb, and ten faithless fellows were sent forth to scope out the Promised Land [Numbers 13:26]. They returned with a report of a good land flowing with milk and honey [vs. 27], but right off the bat they started doubting God’s Word. “The people there are strong,” they warned. “Their cities are huge and fortified. There are giants, the children of Anak [vs. 28].”
But note Caleb’s response: “Let us go up at once and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it!”
Yet still they complained and doubted. “No, we can’t do it; they’re stronger than us [vs. 31]. That place will eat us alive! They’re bigger than us [vs. 32]. And don’t forget: they have GIANTS. We were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in theirs [vs. 33].”
The people of God listened to these doubters, and suddenly everyone wanted to go back to Egypt [Numbers 14:1-4]. Moses and Aaron hit the deck, falling on their faces before God, realizing he would not like this turn of events [vs. 5]. Joshua and Caleb tore their clothes and insisted, “The land is an exceeding good land. If God delights in us, He will give it to us, a land flowing with milk and honey. Only rebel not against the Lord, neither fear this people, for they are bread for us (we’ll eat THEM alive). Their defense is departed from them and the Lord is with us. Fear them not [Numbers 14:6-9].”
Rather than listening to their words of faith, the people of God decided to stone them, so God stepped in. He decided Caleb and Joshua would enter the Promised Land, but the others who doubted His Word would roam the desert until that faithless generation passed away [Numbers 14:10, 14].
Now that’s pretty good stuff, but that’s not why Caleb is one of my favorite fellows in the whole Book. You see, forty-five years later that faithless generation finally passed away and Joshua asked Caleb what portion of the Promised Land he wanted for his inheritance – and this is why Caleb stands out for me:
“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 Kadeshbarnea. Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadeshbarnea 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: but I wholly followed the LORD my God. And Moses sware on that day, saying, 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 my God. 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. 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, both 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 Anakims were there, and that the cities were great and fenced: if so be the LORD will bewith me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the LORD said.
And Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh Hebron for an inheritance. Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite unto this day, because that he wholly followed the LORD God of Israel.”
– Joshua 14:6-14
Notice what he said: “Give me that mountain, the one with all the giants, the one with the fortified cities, the one everybody was so afraid of. Give me THAT mountain!”
What a challenge!
Caleb had discovered a great mystery: it doesn’t matter how small we are; it matters how big God is. A shepherd boy named David showed us that small stones may well give us access to a giant’s sword.
G. K. Chesterton was right. Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried. It is said that D. L. Moody once heard Henry Varley say, “The world has yet to see what God can do with and through and to a man fully consecrated to Him.” Dare we respond with Moody and Caleb, “I will be that man! Give me that mountain!” dare we be known as men and women who wholly followed after God??
Give me that mountain! Nevermind the mugwumps. God will shake their fences!
Give me that mountain! Nevermind the 12,000 faithless ministers who’ve slapped Biblical authority in the face. The Word of God stands sure. These are not cleverly devised fables; we will preach the Word of God, whether it’s in season or out of season!
Give me that mountain! Nevermind the hundreds of churches celebrating Darwin Sunday. We will celebrate a Creation Sunday and boldly proclaim, “let God be true and every man a liar!”
Give me that mountain! Nevermind that the Church continues to slumber while USAmerica becomes less Christian every year. We can wake them up. Be a watchman. Sound the alarm!
Give me that mountain! Nevermind that we are as grasshoppers in their eyes, for they are as grasshoppers in the eyes of a God whose strength cannot fail and they are bread for us! This is the God Who created the heavens and the earth, Whose Voice shakes the mountains, Whose Word will not return to Him void, and Who cannot lie. This is the God who said, knock, and the door will open for you; Seek, and you will find; ask, and you’ll receive,” and he also promises that we SHALL reap, if we faint not!
-End of devotional-
*The figure of “nearly 12,000” has risen since March 2009 to 12,757 signatures as of 9/03/11. Of course, as the case of signatories John Shuck of Tennessee and Barry Lynn of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (neither of whom can affirm the literal and bodily resurrection of Christ, a crucial requirement of authentic saving faith per Romans 10:9) illustrate, not all of these signatures represent authentic Christian clergy but humanist clergy in Christian clerical robes. I’ve also noted how members of “Christian” cults and Unitarians are erroneously listed on the Christian Clergy Letter to inflate the numbers somewhat.