6Now the men of Judah approached Joshua at Gilgal, and Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know what the LORD said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me. 7I 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, 8but my brothers who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt with fear. I, however, followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly. 9So 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.’
10“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! 11I 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. 12Now 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.”
13Then Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave him Hebron as his inheritance. 14So Hebron has belonged to Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite ever since, because he followed the LORD, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly.
In our Resting at the River’s Edge reading today, we read about Caleb receiving the land that was his inheritance. It had been 45 years since Moses promised the inheritance to Caleb. He was now 85 years old. He had wandered around for 40 years because of the disbelief of the other Israelites.
Forty-five years ago, Caleb, Joshua and 10 other leaders had been sent to check out the land that God had promised to give them. Caleb had stood with Joshua and had believed God and urged the people to follow Him. The other spies were afraid, however, and convinced the people that they could not do what God said they could. So instead of taking the land and receiving his inheritance in a matter of months or a few short years, Caleb wandered in circles with the other Israelites until the entire generation, except for Caleb and Joshua, died.
Five years ago, Joshua was given leadership of the Israelites and they began to take the land that God had promised. Caleb valiantly fought battle after battle to secure the land for other tribes. Many of those tribes had already received their inheritance. Still, Caleb had not.
It had been a pretty busy and hectic five years, I’m sure, but I can’t help wondering if Caleb ever became discouraged at waiting so long for his inheritance. There’s no indication of it in the text, but human nature being what it is, I wouldn’t be surprised if there weren’t times, perhaps in the dark of night, when he despaired that his dreams of an inheritance would ever be realized. Perhaps he did, perhaps not.
I find three things in the text, though, that are an indication of how he encouraged himself either to avoid such thoughts or to stand against them.
- In verse 8, Caleb says “I, however, followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly.” Caleb knew in his heart that he had followed the Lord wholeheartedly, and he knew the Lord well enough to know that He is faithful to keep His promises and that He rewards our obedience. My favorite Scripture that promises this comes from the New Testament:
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
God rewards those who diligently seek Him. Caleb followed the Lord “wholeheartedly.” Caleb was continually and diligently seeking God. Knowing God gave Caleb confidence that He would receive his promised inheritance.
- Caleb reiterates Moses’ promise to give him an inheritance in the land in verse 9. In the following verse, we read that Caleb understood it wasn’t just a promise from Moses, but it was God Himself who was promising Caleb his inheritance. Caleb trusted in that promise. Perhaps he held God’s own words in his heart – the words God spoke to Moses on Mt. Sinai about being “abounding in love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6).
When we are tempted to grieve because of the inheritance we have not yet received, we can remind ourselves of the promise God gave us and of God’s faithfulness in keeping His promises.
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “yes” in Christ. And so through him the “amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
2 Corinthians 1:20
God’s faithfulness is a fact, a truism, about God. It is His nature to be faithful. It is impossible for Him to be unfaithful. So when we are tempted to despair over the fulfillment of His promises to us, we can remind ourselves of those promises and of His faithfulness.
- Finally, Caleb saw God at work toward the fulfillment of the promise. In verse 10 he declares that he is as physically fit to take the land as he was 45 years ago. Why did Caleb add that detail to the story? It wasn’t a necessary ingredient for him to receive his inheritance. Yes, he still had to fight the inhabitants of the land, but there were many others who could help in that fight. The fulfillment of the promise wasn’t dependent on Caleb being in good shape when he received it. When I read the statement, I had a sense that Caleb was saying “look at me – I haven’t aged a day – God is keeping me alive and well as a sign of His faithfulness to me.”
I am not saying that God will keep each of us healthy and strong until He fulfills His promises to us. God treats each of us in a way that is uniquely suited to our talents, our personalities, our faithfulness to Him, His promises to us, and His purposes for our lives. In Caleb’s case, God used the supernatural health that Caleb enjoyed as a sign to him that God would fulfill His promises.
What is God doing around or in you that gives you assurance that He will keep His promises? It may be something quite small or it may be something dramatic and miraculous. But there is something. Ask God to open your eyes to see eternity in the everyday things around you. Then hold on to those things that He is doing in and around you as signs of His ultimate fulfillment of His promises to you.
Does it seem like God is taking a long time to fulfill His promises in your life? Encourage yourself as Caleb did. Remind yourself regularly of those promises and of God’s faithfulness, then look for God at work in your life today. Be encouraged. He will do what He has promised to do.