Caleb (of “Joshua and Caleb” fame, Numbers 13, 14) stood just across the banks of the Jordan River, at a place called Gilgal. As one of two oldest of the people, in the process of taking the “Promised Land,” he wanted to make a special request of Joshua. Specifically, he wanted the land around Hebron. He said, “So now, give me this hill country of which the Lord spoke that day, for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there with great fortified cities” (Joshua 14:12).
Several things about this request interest me. First of all, Caleb was eighty-five years old (Joshua 14:10)! I know we are speaking of biblical times, but that age would have still had physical challenges. Caleb was not going to rest in the past glories of his youthful years. He was bound and determined to press forward.
Secondly, the topography of the land he desired was a challenge in itself. Joshua 14:12 (quoted above in the ESV) described it as “hill country.” Both the King James and New King James versions of the Bible translate, “this mountain.” No matter how one looks at it, marching uphill to capture occupied land was a challenge.
Thirdly, the land was occupied by the Anakim (giants). These were the enemies that made Caleb’s fellow-spies (except for Joshua) seem like “grasshoppers” (Numbers 13:33). Forty-five years later, Caleb was still determined and confident in the power of God.
Finally, we read that Caleb successfully overcame the challenge of the hill country and Hebron (Joshua 14:13-15). The text also reminds us, through the words of Caleb, Moses and Joshua that Caleb had “wholly followed the Lord” (Joshua 14:8,9,14).
Now let us see how this story might benefit us. We live in a day and age which glorifies youth, beauty and physical strength. If we are not careful we also will allow ourselves to be limited by and tempted to depend only on those qualities in ourselves as well as others. Let us be aware of the culture-pressure for such dependence and realize that age and experience also have their place in life.
As we all grow older, we should still be looking for challenges especially spiritual ones to keep ourselves active in the work of God. Classes need to be taught, prayers need to be uttered; advice needs to be given; letters and notes need to be written; meals need to be cooked, godly lives need to be lived, and on and on. Like the hill country of Hebron before Caleb, the challenges are there. With God’s help, let us rise to meet them!!
- Lance Cordle