Caleb is one of my favorite examples of enduring faithfulness in the Old Testament. I love the image of this eighty-five-year-old man, bursting with passion and energy, determined to claim his inheritance and receive all that God had promised him so many years earlier.
Life couldn’t have been easy for Caleb. His early years were spent as a slave in Egypt along with the rest of the Israelite people. For years they were cruelly oppressed by the Egyptians, until God showed His faithfulness to His people by sending Moses to confront Pharaoh and lead them to freedom.
Then there was the long trek through the wilderness with many challenges along the way; hunger, thirst, and pursuit by the Egyptians after Pharaoh changed his mind about letting his slaves go free. But Caleb witnessed God’s faithfulness once again. God parted the Red Sea to deliver the Israelites from the Egyptians. He provided for their practical needs, and He led them every step of the way towards the land He had promised.
God was faithful but the Israelites were not.
Caleb was one of the spies chosen to go in and report on the Promised Land. When the spies returned, they spoke of a land of plenty, flowing with milk and honey, but most of them became preoccupied with their fears. They believed the people were too strong and fierce, and the Israelites would never be able to conquer them.
Only Caleb and one other spy, Joshua, focused on God. He had been faithful to lead them this far, and He would be faithful in enabling them to take the land. Caleb in turn showed his faithfulness to God by speaking up and standing against the crowd.
“Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!” (Numbers 13:30 NLT)
Not only did the Israelites ignore him; they actually threatened to stone Caleb and Joshua!
And so, the Israelites began forty years of trudging through the wilderness, unable to enter the land because they had failed to trust in God’s faithfulness. How hard that must have been for Caleb, to know that he had been so close to receiving all that God promised.
Caleb’s Enduring Faithfulness
The Bible doesn’t mention him personally during the forty years of wandering, so we can only imagine how Caleb dealt with his disappointment and the frustration he must have felt with his fellow Israelites.
But I love when he enters the story again, at age 85, he is still absolutely convinced of God’s faithfulness. His faith has not been dulled by the long years of waiting, and age is irrelevant to him. If God is giving him the land, God will be faithful in enabling him to conquer it.
Caleb challenges me to hold to the faithfulness of God, to look back and remember examples of God’s faithfulness. It reminds me to live trusting in faith, knowing that even if there are unexpected or unwanted delays, God will always fulfill His promises.