Someone referred to him as ‘the grey-haired conqueror.’
Caleb was one of the two spies (Joshua was the other) who brought a positive message back from their mission in the Promised Land. At that time, the Lord promised that Caleb and his family would get to inherit their portion of the land.
In Joshua 14, Caleb is now 85.
We are no longer in the Methuselah phase of Old Testament history, but some people still lived to a fair old age. Joshua lived to 110 and Moses lived to 120. So Caleb may have had a bit to go. But he was no longer young. He’d spent 40 years wandering around the desert when he could – and should- have been enjoying the Land of Promise. But Caleb at 85 is still as vigorous as he was at 40.
His strength was undiminished. He told Joshua that he was as capable of traveling and fighting as he had been 45 years previously. Not everyone has the privilege of undiminished strength into their 9th decade: for every remarkable 90 year old who runs a marathon, there is the stroke victim, unable to walk without assitance. Caleb retained his strength and he determined that he would use it as long as he could.
His vision was undimmed. He had not forgotten about the promise God had made through Moses: there was land for him to inherit. That promise was still to be fulfilled. No matter that the land was still occupied (by the Anakites) and no matter that its inhabitants lived in fortified cities. Caleb wanted the hill country that the Lord had promised him.
His faith was unaltered. 45 years earlier Caleb and Joshua believed that if the Lord was on their side, they would be able to take ownership of the land he promised them, despite the size of the opposition. 45 years later nothing had changed. Caleb’s faith was unaltered.
It’s a refreshing picture of a man whom the passage of time and the disappointments of the past have not withered.
There is a fascinating sequel in Joshua 15. It has to do with Caleb’s daughter Achsah and her husband Othniel (who went on to become a judge).
What kind of man would Caleb allow to marry his daughter? He would have to be a man like Caleb himself. 21st century sensitivities will probably bristle at the thought of a competition where the prize is the hand of a fair maiden, but Caleb promised his daughter to whoever would attack and capture the city of Kiriath-Sepher. Which paved the way for his daughter to marry a man with the same strength and courage as her father.
As for the daughter, she wasn’t content with what she had. That can be a bad thing (Paul learned to be content in every circumstance), but there is such a thing as a holy discontent. At any rate, she asked her husband to ask Caleb for more land, then, realising that the land they had was desert, she asked her father for springs. You wonder if there was a chip off the old block there, refusing to settle until she had everything she needed.
- Will you use your strength as long as you have it?
- Is your vision greater or less than it was 45 (or 25, or 5) years ago?
- Do you trust God more or less than you did 45 (or 25, or 5) years ago?