Then the children of Judah came to Joshua in Gilgal. And Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him: “You know the word which the Lord said to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh Barnea. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart. Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the Lord my God. So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children’s forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord my God.’ And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years, ever since the Lord spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in. Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said.” And Joshua blessed him, and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh as an inheritance. Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholly followed the Lord God of Israel. And the name of Hebron formerly was Kirjath Arba (Arba was the greatest man among the Anakim). Then the land had rest from war. (Joshua 14:6-15)
He Wholly Followed The Lord
When the children of Israel first came to Canaan, their hearts melted within them because of the giants in the land. Ten spies returned from surveying the land telling the people there was no hope to conquer Canaan. Caleb, the son of Jephunneh had a different story. Along with Joshua, they had pleaded with the people to trust in the power of God gaining victory over the inhabitants of a land promised to them. Because of their unbelief, God punished the nation with forty years of wandering in the wilderness as the rebellious generation died. Caleb must have been heartbroken. At the age of forty years, the promised land was an invitation to enjoy the blessings of God. He would have to wait forty-five years to live out his dream. At the age of eighty-five, Caleb still had fight left in him.
The Anakim were giants in the land. A greater giant stood among the people of God. Caleb was not just a man who stood with the Lord. The Holy Spirit makes emphasis that this man of Judah wholly followed the Lord. This was not just a Sunday-go-to-meeting kind of man who served God when it was convenient. Caleb was a man who at the age of forty wholly followed the Lord and continued to do so at the age of eighty-five. He wholly followed the Lord God of Israel because his life was immersed in the power of God. He had seen the affliction of the people while living in Egypt. His eyes saw the wonder of the Lord’s power inflict destruction upon the nation of Pharaoh. The parting of the Red Sea never left his mind. Sinai thrilled Caleb to hear the thunderous majesty of God’s presence. The book of the Law was his delight. When he spied the land with Joshua, he could only see the word of the Lord coming true in victory over the people of Canaan. His trust remained in the Lord as he had to endure forty years of trials and tribulations. Victory at Jericho and the conquering of the land guaranteed his faith in the promise of his God. Old age did not diminish his faith. He wholly followed the God that saved him.
We need the faith of Caleb. It is one thing to be a follower of Christ but there is something different about wholly following the Lord. It is easy to become a Christian of ‘once-in-a-while’ service doing as little as needed to keep our membership active. What separated Caleb from others was he lived the Lord God, he breathed the Lord God, he spoke the words of the Lord God, he dressed for the Lord God, he thought about everything in the word of the Lord God. Everything about his life – everything – was service to the Lord. Can we do less?
Jesus died on the cross. He wholly followed the Father. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we must bear a cross. One thing is certain when you bear a cross for Christ. You have to be committed. You are going in one direction. Whatever happens is no longer your control. Crucifixion is wholly following the Lord. Whether we are forty or eighty-five, our hearts must be entirely focused on serving the one who died for us. It is time to be serious about our commitment to Jesus Christ.
Faith is more than intellectual acceptance of the revelation in Jesus Christ; it is whole-hearted trust in God and His promises, and committal of ourselves to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. (Walter M. Horton, Christian Theology, 1955)