“Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said” (Joshua 14:12).
How do you feel about growing older? Many of us look forward to retiring one day from our jobs, but we do not look forward to the health challenges that old age will bring. How will growing older affect your service to the Lord? Will you continue to faithfully serve God in whatever capacity you can even in your old age?
The opening verse above was spoken by Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, after the children of Israel had finished conquering the majority of the Promised Land west of the Jordan River. Caleb and Joshua had faithfully spied out the promised land 45 years earlier and had given a good report even though the other 10 spies had given an evil report of the Promised Land (Numbers 13:25-14:9). Caleb had faithfully endured the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness and the 5 years it took to conquer the Promised Land (Joshua 14:10). What sustained him during those 45 years was his faith in God’s promise made to him through God’s servant Moses: “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” (Numbers 14:9). Caleb was now ready to claim his inheritance.
Caleb says, “Give me this mountain…” (Joshua 14:12). In a sense the mountain represented his physical land inheritance. However, we often speak of “mountains” as obstacles that must be overcome. In this sense there were still some mountains for Caleb to overcome before he could enjoy his land inheritance. He had to overcome and conquer the giants (i.e. the Anakim) that still dwelt in the great and fortified cities located in this area (Joshua 14:12). At 85 years old Caleb embraced overcoming this obstacle and fully believed he could do so by the great power of God.
Caleb is one of my favorite Bible characters. I can’t wait to speak to him in heaven and hear him share with me his great adventures in serving God. He is a great example of a servant of God who continues to serve God eagerly and faithfully even in his old age. He had no intention of resting on his laurels and retiring from his service to the Lord. He told Joshua on this occasion: “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” (Joshua 14:11).
I have such great appreciation for my elderly brethren who continue to cling to God’s Promises and faithfully serve God even in older age whether as a preacher, elder, Bible class teacher or the host of other people who do everything from cooking meals for the sick, advising the younger generations, or helping to clean the church building. Sometimes, all they are able to do is simply attend services, but they encourage others by their faith (Hebrews 10:24-25). Still others are shut-in and are physically unable to make it out to services, but continue to serve as “prayer warriors” as they lift others up in their prayers.
Take time to encourage your elderly brethren like Caleb who continue to faithfully serve the Lord by clinging to His Promises and by embracing the mountains that lay before them. Today, I will rejoice that God has given me elderly brethren with silver-hair whose faith I may follow!
“The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness” (Proverbs 16:31).