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Caleb - An Inspiration to All Generations

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Then the sons of Judah drew near to Joshua in Gilgal, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know the word which the Lord spoke 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 word back to him as it was in my heart. “Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt with fear; but I followed the Lord my God fully. “So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden will be an inheritance to you and to your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God fully.’ “Now behold, the Lord has let me live, just as He spoke, these forty-five years, from the time that the Lord spoke this word to Moses, when Israel walked in the wilderness; and now behold, I am eighty-five years old today. “I am still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out and coming in. “Now then, give me this hill country about which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day that Anakim were there, with great fortified cities; perhaps the Lord will be with me, and I will drive them out as the Lord has spoken.” So Joshua blessed him and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance. Therefore, Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite until this day, because he followed the Lord God of Israel fully. Now the name of Hebron was formerly Kiriath-arba; for Arba was the greatest man among the Anakim. Then the land had rest from war. Joshua 14:6-15 (NASB95)

 

 

Intro:  Author and pastor Greg Laurie offers the following advice about determining whether or not you are growing old:

• You know you're getting old when you actually look forward to a dull evening at home.

• You know you're getting old when your mind makes commitments your body cannot keep.

• You know you're getting old when everything hurts, and what doesn't hurt doesn't work.

• You know you're getting old when you sink your teeth into a big, juicy steak—and they stay there.

• You know you're getting old when you dim the lights for economic reasons, not romantic ones.

• You know you're getting old when you've owned clothes for so long they've come back into style twice.

• You know you're getting old when you sing along to elevator music.

• You know you're getting old when you quit trying to hold your stomach in no matter who walks in the room.[1]

How many of you are old this morning?

Today on Senior Adult day we’ll look at the story of a man name Caleb who was certainly getting old in years but was young and passionate at heart. It’s from an OT text I’ve wanted to preach for a long time, and it’s about a true hero in the Scripture.

But before we start we need to back up…

Now from our text we observe…

 

I.                    Caleb remembers

Then the sons of Judah drew near to Joshua in Gilgal, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know the word which the Lord spoke 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 word back to him as it was in my heart. “Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt with fear; but I followed the Lord my God fully. “So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden will be an inheritance to you and to your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God fully.’ Joshua 14:6-9 (NASB95)

 

Here’s a man who had been holding on to the promise of his place in the Promised Land for forty years.  He didn’t forget. That’s a good word to all of us. Hold on to the promises given us through Christ.  Never forget who we are and what we have in Jesus.

Next we see…

 

II.                  Caleb reflects

“Now behold, the Lord has let me live, just as He spoke, these forty-five years, from the time that the Lord spoke this word to Moses, when Israel walked in the wilderness; and now behold, I am eighty-five years old today. “I am still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out and coming in. Joshua 14:10-11 (NASB95)

David Jeremiah says, “You could summarize Caleb’s life at eighty-five in three Ds: desert, death, and discouragement.

All his contemporaries were dying. You might remember that a condition for entering the Promised Land was that all of the unfaithful generation—the one that shied away from giants—had to die before God would permit the crossing of the Jordan. It took thirty-eight wilderness years for that to happen. Caleb grew older as he waited through the decades, checking the obituaries every day and seeing the last of his old friends die.

A generation of funerals would make the best of us gloomy and morose. But not Caleb. The verses above show that his engines were still revving. The fire in the furnace of his soul was still lit. He was still living wide open for God.[2]

 

Some of you may be thinking: I don’t feel as strong as I did forty-five years ago. Maybe it was holding on to God’s promises that kept him young.” 

Next…

III.               Caleb requests

“Now then, give me this hill country about which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day that Anakim were there, with great fortified cities; perhaps the Lord will be with me, and I will drive them out as the Lord has spoken.” Joshua 14:12 (NASB95)

Caleb wasn’t shy about asking for what he’d been promised. That’s another good thing for us to emulate. Always be bold about claiming the promises of God. It thrills His heart when we step right up to the throne of grace and ask for what he’s promised us.

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16 (NASB95)

 

I love this next part: “for you heard on that day that Anakim were there, with great fortified cities; perhaps the Lord will be with me, and I will drive them out as the Lord has spoken.” Caleb is a bona-fide octogenarian (in his eighties), and he’s all fired up about rushing in to claim his inheritance, an inheritance is infested with giants. These guys were most likely related to Goliath.

The Bible says that old Caleb did just that. He fought hard and expelled the three sons of Anak. Wow!

 

The last thing we note is…

 

IV.                Caleb receives

So Joshua blessed him and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance. Therefore, Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite until this day, because he followed the Lord God of Israel fully. Now the name of Hebron was formerly Kiriath-arba; for Arba was the greatest man among the Anakim. Then the land had rest from war. Joshua 14:13-15 (NASB95)

 

Caleb got what he’d been promised and what he’d asked for. Guess what? Here’s another truth for us: When we claim God’s promises the answer is always yes.

 

For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us. 2 Corinthians 1:20 (NASB95)

 

Conclusion : Steve Moore tells of a friend's experience at a retirement home dedication:

The ceremony included remarks from one of the new residents, Dr. Paul Brand, an outstanding medical doctor. Most of us know him through his best-selling book co-written with Philip Yancey, Fearfully and Wonderfully Made. When it was Dr. Brand's turn to speak, he said something like this:

I remember well when I was at my physical peak. I was 27 years old and had just finished medical school. A group of friends and I were mountain climbing, and we could climb for hours. For some people, when they cross that peak, for them life is over.

I remember well my mental peak, too. I was 57 years of age and was performing groundbreaking hand surgery. All of my medical training was coming together in one place. For some people, when they cross this peak, for them life is over.

I'm now over 80 years of age. I recently realized I'm approaching another peak—my spiritual peak. All I have sought to become as a person has the opportunity to come together in wisdom, maturity, kindness, love, joy, and peace. And I realize when I cross that peak, for me, life will not be over; it will have just begun.[3]

 

That doctor had the spirit of Caleb! I pray that all our senior adults would have that spirit. Many of you do. It’s a spirit that doesn’t mellow out with age,

doesn’t understand the word retire. It’s a spirit of determination to serve the Lord with all you have for as long as you can.

Yes, Caleb was and is an inspiration to all generations. Let’s close with the words of the Psalmist:

 

A gray head is a crown of glory; It is found in the way of righteousness. Proverbs 16:31 (NASB95)

 

 

 


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[1] Greg Laurie, "God's Cure for Heart Trouble," Preaching Today Audio Issue no. 282.

[2]David Jeremiah, Life Wide Open : Unleashing the Power of a Passionate Life (Nashville: Integrity Publishers, 2003), 177.

[3] Steve Moore, "A Graceful Goodbye," Leadership (Summer 2002), p. 42.

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