Caleb. My favorite character in the Bible – bar none. Moses defied a great empire. David vanquished nations. Peter charged into the night against trained soldiers. Paul was just reckless. But Caleb. Caleb was magnificent. I know what you’re thinking, “Caleb? Sure he had faith. He went into the Promised Land. But so did Joshua. What’s so great about Caleb?”
We all know how Caleb started. He and Joshua went on a covert mission to the Promise Land. While ten others shriveled in fear, Caleb proclaimed “Let’s go take the land, we can do it.” But, the people sided with the ten and against Caleb … and God. And God responded quickly. The ten were struck dead. The people were promised retribution. Caleb was promised an inheritance. Contrite, the people tried to take the land. They failed.
But that’s not why I love Caleb. That’s not why he is my favorite. I love Caleb for how he ended his life. Fast forward 40 years. Forty years of wandering the desert. Forty years of waiting. Forty years of discipline for a rebellion he opposed. After 40 long years, the time had come to take the land. Not everyone made it in. Moses did not go. The other ten did not go. None that left Egypt would go. Except Caleb. Except Joshua.
Five years later, the fight was over. The land had been conquered. Almost. But the time had come. Caleb’s time. Joshua sectioned off the land. And Caleb spoke once more.
So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.
Joshua 14:10-12 (NIV)
Here stands Caleb at 85 years – he doesn’t sound like any 85 year old I know – he’s saying: “I was ready 45 years ago and at 85 I am still the man I was at 40!” Caleb was ready. Not just to possess the land but to fight the battle. I can hear him now: “I want the land promised me. I want the best piece. I want the toughest battle. Bring on the giants! I will whip them.” And he did.
Then Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave him Hebron as his inheritance. So Hebron has belonged to Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite ever since, because he followed the LORD, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly.
Joshua 14:13-14 (NIV)
I sit at my computer at 55 and wonder what 85 will bring. Will I still yearn for battle? To fight the fight? That is my prayer. Not just to survive to 85, but to train for 85. To fight daily. To stay strong. To stand firm to the end. To be like Caleb. To follow God wholeheartedly.
The future contains choices. We can follow God and fight. Or have fear overtake us, atrophy, and die. Will you be a Caleb? You say you tried fighting and lost? Good! Caleb fought and lost. You qualify. God had another battle for Caleb. God has another battle for you. What land will belong to you because you followed the Lord, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly?