What a beautiful picture of faithfulness.
When the Israelites finally entered the Promised Land, under Joshua’s leadership, Caleb approached him with a request.
“I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, but my brothers who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt with fear. I, however, followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly. 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.’
Now then, just as the Lord promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the desert. 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 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.’
Then Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave him Hebron as his inheritance.” (Joshua 14:7-13, emphasis added))
“From Hebron Caleb drove out the three Anakites—Sheshai, Ahiman and Talmai.” (Joshua 15:14)
For 40 years Caleb had wandered with the rest of the Israelites in the desert as one by one the entire disbelieving generation had died. Their generation had believed the account of the 10 spies, who gave this disheartening report to Moses:
"We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendents of Anak there…
Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, ‘We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.’
But the men who had gone up with him said, ‘We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.’ And they spread a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, ‘The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendents of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.’”
Then Joshua and Caleb “tore their clothes and said to the entire Israelite assembly, ‘The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.’” (Numbers 13:27-28, 30-33, 14:6b-9, emphasis added)
As a result of the people’s disbelief, the Lord said that everyone of that generation would die without entering the Promised Land: “not one of them will ever see the land promised on oath to their forefathers. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it. But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into this land he went to, and his descendents will inherit it.”
God told them: “Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.” (Numbers 14: 23-24, 30, emphasis added)
This story is why we chose the name Caleb Joshua for CJ and then used the name Joshua again. We hoped our boys would have the same faith and conviction of these two men to trust God wholeheartedly— in the midst of a crowd full of disbelief— and to have the courage to act on their faith.
Reading this story today makes me wonder:
Are our eyes focused on our enemy’s strength and on our own weakness—causing us to cower in fear?
They are stronger
We’ll be devoured
We are like grasshoppers
Or are our eyes focused on God—His unlimited strength and His promises that never fail—causing us to move forward in confidence and conviction?
We can certainly do it
He will lead us
We will swallow them up
The Lord is with us
I love the window that God gives us into Caleb’s life—a man who was just as strong at 85 as he was at 40, strong in his convictions and his faith, and physically strong and ready for battle.
What a faithful man—who waited 45 years for the fulfillment of the promise he had wholeheartedly trusted God for, along with Joshua, when the rest of those around them had given into fear and doubt.
God gave him the land
Caleb drove out the Anakites
And Hebron was his inheritance
A land flowing with milk and honey.
A story of Caleb’s faithfulness to God. And of God’s faithfulness to him.