“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 be with 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
Probably my favorite person (not character, characters are make believe and a person is someone who actually lived) spoken about in the Old Testament in Caleb. The preceding verses sum up the man known as Caleb perfectly. Two things I would like to focus from these verses are (1) that Caleb wasn’t too old to do what needed to be done and (2) he wholly followed God no matter if others did not.
Caleb had labored for God all of his life and now was 85 years old. Yet his age did not stop him from continuing to labor for the Lord. Caleb was working just as hard for the Lord at 85 as he was at 40. Unfortunately some Christians do not think like Caleb. I have heard many “older” Christians make statements like “I taught class when I was younger but now that I’m in my 50’s (or 60’s) it’s time for someone else to do it;” “I’m retiring from door knocking and teaching, I’ve done my time, let someone younger do it.” What if Caleb had this attitude? “I’m old Joshua, give me something easy and let someone younger have that mountain.” Folks, there is no “retiring” when it comes to Christianity. If one says that he/she is retiring from doing the things that all Christians ought to do, then he/she is saying that he/she is no longer going to be a faithful Christian. “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life,” Revelation 2:10. There are many admonitions in the Bible for the “older” Christians to teach the younger. The Apostle Paul through inspiration wrote “The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed,” Titus 2:3-5. Caleb never let age stop him from doing the Lord’s work and it should never stop any of us from continuing to be faithful Christians.
In Numbers 13, twelve men were sent to spy out the land of Canaan for forty days. When the twelve returned, they reported their findings to Moses. “And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word unto them, and unto all the congregation, and shewed them the fruit of the land. And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it. Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan,” Numbers 13:26-29. Caleb did not agree with the assessment given by 10 of the spies. Caleb remembered God’s faithful promise to give them the land of Canaan (Exodus 13:11) and knew that God would not falter on His promise. Caleb responded, “And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it,” Numbers 13:30. The other 10 spies again told the people that the inhabitants of the land were too strong, which caused the people to murmur against Moses, Aaron and God (Numbers 13:31-14:2). Caleb did not give into “peep pressure.” He along with Joshua stayed the faithful course. “And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes: And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not,” Numbers 14:6-9. Sadly too many today do not have the courage of Caleb. Too often many of the Lord’s congregations are being led away into denominationalism because of the lack of courageous leaders like Caleb. Sadly, almost monthly, one can hear or read about a congregation of the Lord’s church being drawn away by addition of the musical instrument. “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,” Ephesians 5:19. Many congregations have adopted the idea of reaching across to the denominations and joining hands with them in fellowship, and even in pulpit swapping. “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them,” Ephesians 5:11. It is past time for the leaders of individual congregations to step up and have the courage of Caleb and wholly follow the Lord, even when others do not.
We can learn a lot from the Godly men and women of the Old and New Testaments. Never forget to wholly follow the Lord and never forget that none of us are too old to keep His commandments and be faithful followers of Him. Joshua 14:6-14 is truly one of my favorite passages.