They forgot that God would be with them.
When Caleb was forty years old, he was one of twelve men sent to spy out the land of Canaan. Caleb and Joshua brought back a faith-filled report, saying that the children of Israel should go in and take the land. However, the other ten spies allowed fear to enter their hearts, they forgot that God would be with them, and as a consequence they caused all the people to back off from taking the land. Which sounds a lot like many Christians today – “Oh yes I know God said that, but you’re taking it out of context, here’s what He really meant….“. Caleb wasn’t put off by the negative voices, and neither should you be. In Joshua 14:9, Caleb recalls what Moses had said to him when he was forty, “Surely the land whereon thy feet have trodden shall be thine inheritance, and thy children’s for ever, because thou hast wholly followed the Lord my God“.
Caleb did not let go of his faith.
After that promise was given to Caleb, the Israelites remained in the wilderness for forty years, until the unbelieving generation had died off (on a side note, they were the ones that God set an age limit of seventy or eighty years for, to limit their children’s time in the wilderness – it was never an age limit for Mankind). So after forty years, Joshua led the children of Israel into the promised land, and they began to conqueror it. During this time, Caleb did not let go of his faith for what God had promised him, but it was still another five years before the opportunity arose for him to speak to Joshua as recorded in Joshua 14. After Caleb had reminded Joshua of what God had promised him he said, “And now, behold, the Lord hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years, even since the Lord spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old“.
For Caleb the passing of time did not nullify the promise.
Caleb was eighty five years of age, but he wasn’t old. His peers had died by the age of eighty, because they had had a limit placed upon them – Caleb had no such limit (and neither do we). Caleb continued talking to Joshua, emphasising that he was older, but not weaker, “As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in. Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the Lord spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakims were there, and that the cities were great and fenced: if so be the Lord will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the Lord said“. For Caleb, the passing of time did not nullify the promise, he believed God and he was determined to get what he had been promised. The end result of Caleb’s unwavering faith is given in verses 13-14, “Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh Hebron for an inheritance. Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite unto this day, because that he wholly followed the Lord God of Israel“.
The promise given to David did not happen immediately.
Moving on from Caleb; in 1 Samuel 16:1, we read of how God sent Samuel to anoint a new king of Israel, “Fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons“. After a drawn out process, because of Jesse’s failure to mention that one of his sons isn’t actually there, David is finally brought before Samuel in 1 Samuel 16:12-13, “Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the Lord said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he. Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward“. The Bible does not specifically give David’s age, but Bible scholars have estimated that he was about fifteen. As with Caleb, the promise given to David did not happen immediately, David had to endure a long period of persecution by King Saul, before he eventually became king of the tribe of Judah (the tribe his family was from) at the age of thirty. It was then another seven and a half years before he was made king of all Israel and the promise was finally fulfilled.
David waited patiently for God’s promise to be fulfilled.
David had to wait a significant amount of time before he received what God had promised to him, but David did not give up. Neither did he try to take things into his own hands by killing Saul, despite numerous opportunities whilst Saul was persecuting him. David had respect for the anointing that God had placed on King Saul and he refused to hurt him, no matter how badly Saul treated him. Instead David waited patiently for God’s promise to be fulfilled. We can learn a lot from Caleb & King David. They both received what they had been promised because they held onto what God had said and the passing of time did not diminish their faith. They are examples of the sort of people Hebrews 6:12 is referring to when it says, “We do not want any of you to grow slack, but to follow the example of those who through sheer patient faith came to possess the promises” (J.B. Phillips translation).
They let go of what had been promised them and it never came to pass for them.
We may not have to wait as long as Caleb or David, but the same key applies to us as did to them – God’s promises are dependent on us holding onto them in faith. In the example of Caleb, look at what happened to his peer group. They had received the exact same promise as Caleb in Exodus 6:6-8, “Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and……..I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the Lord“. But instead of holding on to God’s promise, Caleb’s peers let go of what had been promised to them and therefore it never came to pass in lives – it was their children that went in and possessed the land.
So follow the example of Caleb, David, and others like them in the Bible, who held on tightly to what had been promised them and absolutely refused to let go. Refuse to be like the children of Israel, who let doubt and unbelief steal what could – in fact should – have been theirs.
If you have any further questions or thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment.
If you have never received Jesus as your Lord & Saviour, if you have gone away from God, or if you have any doubts regarding your salvation. I encourage you to click on the link below. Clicking on the link will not secure your salvation, but praying the prayer you find, from your heart, will.
For the salvation prayer, please click here.