Do you recall which Bible character spoke those words? One “faithful spy,” Caleb, said them to the other “faithful spy,” Joshua. In response, “Joshua blessed him, and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh as an inheritance” (Joshua 14:13).
Though it is a bit lengthy, we will be benefitted by reading Joshua 14:6-12, as it sets the stage for Caleb saying, “Give me this mountain”:
(6) . . . And Caleb . . . said to him: ‘You know the word which the LORD said to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh Barnea. (7) 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. (8) Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the LORD my God. (9) 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. (10) 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. (11) 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. (12) Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the LORD spoke in that day . . .
From this text, we get some insight into Caleb’s thinking and character. What do we see in him?
Caleb’s Heart – He reminded his friend Joshua of the word that was in his heart and which he shared with Moses after he returned from spying the land of Canaan (14:7). While ten faithless, spineless spies said that Israel could not overcome Canaan and its inhabitants, courageous Caleb charged, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it” (Numbers 13:30). Thank God for people today who, like Caleb, will not allow the wavering faith of others to lower their enthusiasm or cause them to stumble.
Caleb further showed his heart when he said, “. . . the LORD has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years” (Joshua 14:10). From spying the land at age 40 to approaching death at age 85, Caleb wisely gave credit to God, realizing that he owed him everything, as Paul said, “But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:10).
Caleb’s mindset was, if he and God worked together, then they could get the job done – “If may be that the LORD will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the LORD said” (14:12).
Note one more thing about Caleb’s heart: he was willing to let Joshua have the spotlight while he served more or less in the background. They were co-faithful spies and they both set a wonderful example, but Joshua was the God-appointed leader who replaced Moses. Joshua got most of “the headlines,” but Caleb continued to serve, too.
Caleb’s Commitment – This is actually a demonstration of his heart and character, but we point to it separately because the Bible shows the high level of the man’s commitment. Why was Caleb rewarded with the city of Hebron? “Because he wholly followed the LORD God of Israel” (14:13). In fact, three times in this passage it is stated plainly that the son of Jephunneh followed God with his whole heart (14:8,9,14). That set him apart from the ten weak spies, whose report “made the heart of the people melt” (14:8). It is easy to see why God praised Caleb, saying, “But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully . . .” (Numbers 14:24). God’s man, Caleb, was willing to be different, and he was determined to do what was right, no matter what others did or said. Yes, that is what we call “commitment.” How committed was he to the Lord? “Wholly.” When you think about it, unless one is totally committed to God, then he is not really committed, is he? Our Lord wants us to love Him with our whole being (Mark 12:29,30) and forsake all for Him (Luke 14:33). Brothers and sisters, how high is the level of our commitment the Lord?
Caleb’s Enduring Service – He was faithful as a spy at age 40, and he was still going strong at age 85 (Joshua 14:10). He was not just alive at age 85; he was still laboring for the Lord then, too! We know that some “drop out” as time passes. Jesus said they “fall away” (Luke 8:13). Some stay in the Lord’s army, but are walking out of line, no longer submitting to the Lord’s instructions (Galatians 5:7). And, some semi-retire along the way, thinking that they have done their share of the work and so it is now time for someone else to do it. In fact, there is much for each child of God to do in the Kingdom, even those that have passed “the middle ages.” Do I need to remind you that Moses was 80 when he led Israel out of Egypt? Or that “young” Noah was 600 when he entered the ark which he built?
Through Moses, Jehovah had promised a land inheritance in Canaan for Caleb (Joshua 14:9). Caleb remembered God’s promise, valued it (it stayed in his heart for 45 years; 14:10), claimed it, and did his part to obtain its fulfillment (14:12).
Caleb was not perfect. No mere human ever is. But, it is clear that he had some admirable qualities that God’s people still should try and imitate today.
— Roger D. Campbell