“So on that day Moses swore to me, “The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly” (Joshua 14:9 NIV).
Bible Reading: Joshua 14:6-12
He was an eighty-five year old man whose name meant “dog.” Not a very flattering name and yet he is one of the greatest unsung heroes of the Old Testament. More than any other man, the Bible says that Caleb served the Lord with all his heart.
You know the story. The Israelites sent twelve men into Canaan to spy out the land. They came back with the scary report that the cities were large, the walls high, and giants lived in the land. “We can’t do it”, they cried. “We can’t conquer that land. The walls are too high and the giants too big.” But two of the spies, Caleb and Joshua, believed God and his promise; their faith gave them courage. They disagreed with the other spies and encouraged the Israelites to go in and conquer the land.
You know the story. The Israelite’s fear defeated their faith and they refused to cross the Jordan. The Lord was done with that unbelieving generation and he said to them, “Not one of you over twenty years old will ever see this land. You will wander in the desert until you are all dead and then your children will enter the land.”
Fast forward 45 years — Moses is dead and Joshua is now leading the Israelites. Let’s catch up on the story. The Israelites wandered in the desert until every last person of that generation, except Caleb and Joshua, had died. After forty years in the desert the kids entered the Promised Land. They’ve been in the land now for five years; the walls of Jericho are rubble. Canaan has been conquered piece by piece and most of the land is now theirs. They haven’t lost a battle since that terrible day at Ai but that’s a tale for another day.
We pick up the story with the Israelites on a winning streak and the different tribes are beginning to settle into the land as Joshua assigns it to each of them. Caleb comes to his friend Joshua and reminds him of something that Moses said all those years ago when Joshua and Caleb were the only men in Israel who believed God’s promise. “Do you remember Joshua? Do you remember what Moses said to me? Way back, when I was just a young pup, forty years old, you and I, along with ten other men, went in to spy out Canaan. We got into that land and found it filled with giants. Twelve men went in — two men and ten cowards came out. I gave Moses a report based on what I saw with my heart, not my eyes. The other ten gave a bad report and made the hearts of the people melt. Because I followed the Lord with all my heart Moses swore to me that wherever I put my foot in the Promised Land that place would be my land forever.”
“Do you remember Joshua?” Joshua replied, “I remember Caleb. What part of the land do you want?” “I want that mountain.” “What?” cried Joshua. Since we entered Canaan we have never dared to climb that mountain…it’s…it’s where the giants live.”
Caleb’s response: “It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said” (Josh 14:12).
Four lessons from the life of Caleb
Lesson number one: Be willing to be in the minority.
To be a follower of Jesus Christ today means that you will be in the minority. What price are you willing to pay to be wholeheartedly sold out to God and to stand for him? Caleb saw the stones in the hands of those who opposed him and yet he held his ground. “Let us go up and take possession for we can surely do it!” It’s not popular to be a Christian today. Will you stand for Christ or cower to the loud majority? Will you be a Caleb in our time?
Lesson number two: Grow bolder as you grow older.
The last few years have been a rude awakening for me. When I was young I was invincible. I was a machine. You couldn’t stop me. I was a dynamo. I don’t know when it happened but I got weak. I hate it. There are things I can’t do. All of a sudden there are physical limitations, things my mind wants to do that my body won’t. I hate it! But let me tell you something that God is showing me as I get older. Getting weaker physically doesn’t mean that I have to get weaker spiritually. You can grow bolder as you grow older. That’s what happened to Caleb. The longer he followed God the bolder he got. At eighty-five years old he was ready to conquer his mountain.
Where does God stand in all of this? It’s simple. He says, “I’m with you. I’m with you till you die. When you take your last breath, I’ll be with you, I’ll be there. I will hold you, carry you, and sustain you.” Oh, what a God. This old body won’t climb mountains any longer but there are bigger adventures for me than any trek. Grow bolder as you grow older.
Lesson number three: Ask God for your mountain.
Eighty-five year old Caleb says, “Lord, give me this mountain.” Friends, pray that same prayer. Ask God for your mountain. Maybe you are facing a financial mountain, a health mountain, or a career mountain. It doesn’t matter what your mountain is. Ask God — “Oh, Lord, give me this mountain.”
There is a hiking trail in the Minnesota boundary waters known as the Kekakabic trail. It is 50 miles long and has a reputation of being the meanest rabbit track in North America. There are thousands of downfalls to climb over or go around. There are torturous hills to climb, swamps to slog through, and rivers to forge. There are places where the beaver dams have washed away and there is no way through but to press through raging rivers.
I’ve hiked the Kekakabic twice. It’s a six day trek and you have to carry a 60 pound pack to make the journey. It’s one of the toughest physical challenges I’ve ever done. The hardest part is the first half. For twenty-five miles I constantly have to fight that voice in my head that tells me that this is too hard, that I should turn back. There comes a time though, at the half way point, where there is no turning back; you press on and you move forward.
There is a time in your life where you say it’s going to be forward from this point on. There is no turning back. I’m moving on with the Lord and I’m going to climb that next hill. There comes a time in your life where up is the only way left.
Christian, what is the thing that intimidates you? Take a page out of Caleb’s playbook and ask God to give you that mountain. Form the words in your mind. Whatever your struggle today say, “Lord, give me this mountain.”
The Israelites have been in the Promised Land for five years. They’ve been going all over the land conquering the Canaanites and claiming the land that God had promised them. But there was one mountain that intimidated them, Mount Hebron. Every time they came to Hebron they would go around it because of the giants that lived there. They were huge men of war and very powerful. Now, after five years, most of the land had been claimed and Joshua and Caleb have this discussion over what land Caleb would like to have as his inheritance. Eighty-five year old Caleb looks Joshua in the eye and he points to Hebron. “Give me that mountain!”
Lesson number four: Follow God wholeheartedly.
“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).
What does it mean to follow God wholeheartedly? It means to agree with God’s plan for your life. To follow God wholeheartedly is to discover God’s plan for your life and to let him accomplish it in you.
Let me give you something very practical to do. Every day read the story of the cross. Read Matthew 27:24-54 every day. Then pray and ask the Lord to give you your mountain. “Lord, give me Mount Calvary.” Do you know what he will do? You ask him for Mount Calvary and there is not another mountain in your life that Jesus will not help you climb and conquer. To go up Mount Calvary is to live your life wholeheartedly for God. Caleb did it. You go up Calvary every day and he will give you every other mountain in your life as well.
Prayer: Dear Lord. Sometimes my life gets consumed with my own failures as I focus on them instead of the victory you have set before me. Help me trust in you for my affirmation and be willing to stand alone for you when necessary. Help me learn the lessons of life and grow bolder as I grow older. Help me to trust you for the mountains I face and live my life totally sold out for you.
Copyright © 2013 by Robert D Saffrin
[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”B0097WVXUS” locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/518QFzxScCL._SL160_.jpg” width=”99″] Amazon #1 bestselling author Bob Saffrin lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with his wife Barb and their beagle Rocky. He and Barb have two children and four grandchildren. Bob loves the outdoors and has been on many backpacking trips in the rugged Boundary Waters area of Minnesota including winter camping.
Check out Bob’s book, [easyazon-link asin=”B0097WVXUS” locale=”us”]Psalms, The Sunrise of Hope[/easyazon-link]