The inhabitants of Canaan were like giants, but only Caleb and Joshua believed that God would give them the victory. The other ten spies complained that the Canaanites were too great and that they, in comparison, felt like grasshoppers. The problem was that these ten men were looking on the bigness of the enemy and not on the bigness of God who had delivered them out of Egypt.
Because of their unbelief God placed a judgment on the whole nation, that all of the men who were 20 years of age and older would never enter the Promised Land. Instead of an 11-day journey the people would have to live in the wilderness for another 40 years. Only Caleb and Joshua would survive to see the day when they would cross over the Jordan River into the land of Promise.
Now 45 years later Caleb tells Joshua: "I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I'm just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then."
What an amazing statement. At the age of 85 Caleb still felt like a 40-year-old. What a great attitude to have at 85. It goes to show you that a lot of getting old really depends on our attitude towards it. At age 85 Caleb refused to step down.
He still had a dream to fulfill. In verse 12 he says: "Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said."
Caleb was still holding onto his dream. It was engraved in his heart, and for 45 years he refused to let go of it. He refused to let his old age take his eyes from the goal.
We need to get a grasp of what this means. Caleb wasn't just waiting for 1 or 2 years or 10 years or 20 years or 30 years or 40 years...but waited 45 years. I don't know about you but 45 years is a very long time to be hanging onto a dream.
Many would think that Caleb must have gotten a little down once in a while wondering whether his dream would ever come true? I'm sure he had to face many challenges, where he could have said, "I quit! I'm fed up with waiting...I'm fed up living with grumblers...I'm fed up with living in the desert...I must have had a nightmare when I dreamt it...It just isn't going to happen!"
But despite the long period of waiting, Caleb never let go of his dream. Despite the constant rebellion of the people he was with, Caleb never doubted God and despite the complaints from people, and the many battles, Caleb never doubted his dream.
Many good things have come about because someone had a dream.
We can learn many valuable lessons from Caleb which are applicable to us today:
We should never let go of our dreams, nomatter how old we are.
We should never let go of the promises given us by the word of God, no matter how long we have to wait.
We should never let the voices of grumblers affect our dreams or our faith.
We should never let our age affect our attitude. As someone once said: "our altitude will be affected by our attitude."
What made Caleb different? What made Abraham different? What made Moses different so that at the age of 80 he answered the call of God to go and set his people free? It was because they had dreams to be fulfilled.
My question is: do we still have dreams which need to be fulfilled? Remember this: we are never finished until God says we are finished.
Noah knew that God wasn't finished with him;
Abraham knew that God wasn't finished with him;
Jacob knew that God wasn't finished with him;
Caleb knew that God wasn't finished with him;
Joshua knew that God wasn't finished with him;
David knew that God wasn't finished with him, and so did Moses, Elijah, Elisha, Jeremiah, Isaiah . . . and the list goes on. . .
and God hasn't finished with us either.
And so, since God called us and saved us, we are never finished until God says so.
The problem with our western culture today is that we have turned things all around. We are living in the age of information, in an age of productivity, in an age of speed, energy, looks, ambition and youth. Corporations are looking for young, vibrant, attractive, energetic executives and sadly this culture has also infiltrated the church today. This has become a great tragedy for the church.
The first tragedy is that today's churches are beginning to resemble corporations. Secondly, the elderly are no longer appreciated. Third, and most tragic of all, is that the church has begun operating in its own power instead of the power of the Holy Spirit.
What we must never forget is that the church is not a corporation geared to productivity, creating careers and consuming youthful energy. Rather the church is a family which grows together through enriched relationships.
Age has one great advantage in that it is loaded with time-seasoned life experiences that can supply a greater perspective on things.
In Psalm 37:25 David says: "I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread."
Years on the road gather experience, as temptations are overcome, and skills are learned. With age, serious believers become valuable mentors.
Young believers are constantly being tempted to defect. The educational institutes are anti-Christian. The world in general is anti-Christian.
Young people are constantly bombarded with the media, music, technology and hype telling them about the great things the world has to offer. The pressures of the world to lure young people away from attending church are staggering.
What the church has failed to appreciate is that it is the gray-haired people who have felt the pain of life, understand discouragement, understand disappointment and temptation, understand the loss of loved ones, but through it all are still believing God - still trusting God - and are still travelling toward their dream.
Job 12:12: "Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?"
And so the lesson that the church can learn from the lives of Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Caleb, and David, is that the church should prize spiritual depth over high energy, and should seek out the dreamers.
We should seek out the older folk who sparkle. We should seek them out because they have lived through many of life's trials and through it all have never abandoned their faith.
As we look back in history, Ronald Reagan turned 70 just 17 days after entering the office of the President of the United States. Abraham left Ur at 70 years of age. Aaron was 83 and Moses was 80 when they left Egypt. Benjamin Franklin was 79 when he became the governor of Pennsylvania. Winston Churchill led Great Britain at age 76. Albert Schweitzer was still practicing missionary medicine at age 90. Jomo Kenyata made Kenya an outstanding African nation at age 80. Cecil B deMille produced the movie "The Ten Commandments" at age 75. Laura Ingalls wrote most of the stories of "Little House on the Prairie" between ages 70 to 90 years. Michelangelo created St. Peter's Basilica in Rome after the age of 70. And the list goes on.
So, in conclusion, if God has given you a dream, don't ever let go of it. Like Caleb, let your attitude - and not your age - determine your altitude and by God's grace keep on keeping on!