Caleb's Faith and Patience Rewarded
Scriptures: JOSHUA 14:6-15; 2 TIMOTHY 2:12
There was a man who once discovered rock strata that he thought might contain gold. He spent thousands of dollars driving a long tunnel into the rock, but after one and a half years he had still not found gold. Discouraged, he gave up and sold the mining claim. The next company bored three feet more and struck gold bearing ore.
Many a person has failed in life because he gave up too soon!
The story of Caleb records that for forty years he waited for a promised reward. Through no fault of his own the reward was postponed.
If Caleb had looked at the circumstances, or listened to the people around him, he would have lost his faith and given up hope. But he trusted God and refused to be a quitter. Seven years after the crossing of Jordan, peace and quiet finally descended over the land.
Then it was time to divide the land among the various tribes. Joshua and Eleazar began to do this, under God's guidance, by means of casting lots. But before the Bible gives us details of this division of the land among the tribes, it draws our attention to an inheritance, given to an individual after eighty-five years - Caleb was 85 years old at this point.
What a Great Record:
(JOSHUA 14:6-12) The Faith and Hope that Caleb had.
Forty-five years is a long time to wait for a promised reward. Some folk Caleb's age would have given up long before, and made a graceful exit into a rocking chair, but not Caleb. He still followed the Lord in triumphant faith. He still stood on God's Word and Faith in God's Promise. Finally, his opportunity came to claim the promise when Joshua subdued the Canaanites and peace came.
Caleb's Inheritance Came Before The Inheritance Was Given To Each Tribe.
Because the Lord wants us to know that His blessings are individual as well as corporate. God wanted every single individual to share personally in the blessings of the land
"flowing with milk and honey".
Each tribe was now being given an opportunity to "mop up" what was left of the Canaanites, who were hiding in corners of the land. Some had even slipped back into cities conquered by Joshua.
After seven years of war - the zeal of many was beginning to slacken, and there was a danger of losing some of the fruits of victory.
Then the 85-year-old Caleb came forward and roused the people to action by his example. For 45 years the Word of the Lord had been his inspiration and hope. He knew what it meant to stand on God's Word, and now he reaffirmed his stand.
"MOST REVIVAL MOVEMENTS ARE YOUNG PEOPLE'S MOVEMENTS, BUT THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A SUCCESSFUL REVIVAL WITHOUT ITS FATHERS AND MOTHERS IN ISRAEL, WHO SEEK NEW VISION, NEW BLESSING, AND WHO GIVE THE REVIVAL DIRECTION AND ENCOURAGEMENT."
If anything is needed in our churches today, it is for those who have known what revival fires are like, to begin to seek God once more.
Let the mature leaders get:
- A new Vision of the Cross,
- A new Dedication to God,
- A new Hunger for the Manifestation of the Supernatural, and...
- A new Courage to stand on the WORD OF GOD.
And then the Young People will soon stir to follow their example, as is being evidenced today, right across our land.
What Kind of Faith was it that Made God's Promise Real to Caleb's Heart?
It was Faith that Believed God could overcome every difficulty or barrier - giants, or walled cities did not frighten him; Faith that expected God to keep His promises; Faith that showed he was active in his relationship to God (verse 8). Caleb's testimony in verses 10 and 11 shows that at 40, Caleb had expressed his faith by declaring that he believed God could and would do something. Now at 85, he adds his testimony and thanks God for the fact that the Lord had kept him alive. His generation was now all dead, except he and Joshua, who had survived the "wilderness wanderings" and deaths on the battlefields of Canaan. He could now claim the inheritance as one who had lived through it all.
He did not take LIFE for granted, because life is a God-given privilege. Caleb was still as strong at 85 as he was at 40 - he was still able and willing to face giants. The secret is that those who serve the Lord in their youth will have nothing to fear as they grow older. We will gain our future leaders and saints from our faithful young ones. Caleb was obviously a man testifying to vigour and strength and health and healing as a product of his close walk with God. He understood God's healing name -
"I AM THE LORD THAT HEALETH THEE."
Caleb, in verse 12, shows that he was not one living in the past. Some older folk live in the past - but not Caleb. He remembered the past with gratitude for God's faithfulness, but he had not lost his vision for service. He did not ask for any easy place where he could spend his remaining years in peace and quietness. He wanted to do something for the Lord.
He took the promises of God; not as a deserved reward, but as an opportunity to exercise faith and claim new victories.
So he asked for the hardest place of all, a place where giants were entrenched and where the fierce Anakim guarded the cities. In war, the officers sent the most trustworthy, faithful soldiers to the hardest places in battle. After all, how can we experience a great victory unless we are willing to face great opposition and great difficulty?
You will notice that although he thanked God for his vigour and strength, he was not depending on that. Instead, he confesses his need of God's help and demonstrates a faith firmly grounded on God's promise.
Time had not dimmed his faith and spiritual vision.
Though Israel had disappointed him 45 years before, he did not complain when he had to wander in the wilderness with them. Sometimes we do not understand why disappointments come our way, often through no fault of our own, 'BUT, new opportunities will come our way if we hold steady in faith and keep on walking with the Lord.'
A Generous Reward
(JOSHUA 14:13-15) became Caleb's Inheritance (verse 13).
He was blessed and received Hebron; remember though, he still had to possess it. God gave him more than he asked, but note that unless we have the faith to claim them, we will not have the faith to use them, so God's Word urges us to ask (MATTHEW 7:7; EPHESIANS 3:20).
God enabled Caleb to take, possess, enjoy, and keep his inheritance, AND his heirs enjoyed it too. Jesus Christ has made us Joint Heirs to an Inheritance He has won.
It follows that the faith inheritances we may win, for others to enjoy, are like parents passing onto their children the faith spoils of battle.
As we read on, we see that Caleb did more than set a good example and pass on a heritage to his heirs; he also provided them with an opportunity and incentive to exercise the same faith.
After Caleb took Hebron, he offered the hand of his daughter to the man who would take Debir, a few miles to the South-west. Othniel, the young man who took Debir, not only won Caleb's daughter and shared in the inheritance, but he continued to follow Caleb's example.
Othniel later became a judge and deliverer. A Godly example will never cease reaping rewards.
Caleb dared to believe God when he was young. He still dared to believe God when he was older. It is never too soon to begin a life of faith like Caleb's. It is never too soon to dare to believe God, even when it seems impossible.
It is a matter of record that most men who accomplish great things for God begin to dare and to do so while they are still young.
John Calvin was a pastor at seventeen. George Whitfield was preaching to great crowds by the time he was twenty-one. Charles Haddon Spurgeon was a famous pulpit orator when he was only sixteen, and he became the pastor of the famous Metropolitan Tabernacle in London when he was twenty.
Of course, not everyone can be a spectacular leader, but God will not reprimand us for that. The best leaders need faithful folk behind the scenes who daily exercise faith, declare their testimony, and press on to claim what God has for them.
We must all, like Caleb - "WHOLLY FOLLOW THE LORD". Let us not seek honour or reputation from men. It is enough to do with all our hearts whatever God gives us to do, and give all the glory to JESUS. Then we will someday hear - "WELL DONE, GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT."
by Philip H. Hills
Rev. Philip H. Hills is Senior Pastor at the Richmond Assembly of God Church in Richmond, Victoria, Australia. He is also on the Board of Directors of Church Growth International.
Source: 'Church Growth', Winter 1991