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Biographical Sketch Directory Index


The Faithful Follower

        The weathered 85-year-old man cocked an eyebrow and looked around him. He stood tall for a man his age, still sinewy and a bit chiseled, his strong features amplifying a yet stronger voice.

    All the faces before him were at least 20 years his junior–except for Joshua, his cohort, his partner in faith, his buddy. Caleb kept his eyebrow arched as he looked at the Israelite men before him and then turned to Joshua. Forty-five years had passed since God had promised Caleb the inheritance on which he was now looking. His mind flashed through the images of the events that had brought him to this point.

    Caleb remembered being one of 12 spies sent by Moses to scout the Promised Land. He remembered how he and Joshua had adamantly disagreed with the other spies, who insisted that Canaan was overrun with barbarians too staunch to overcome. He remembered tearing his clothes in anguish at the rebellion of the Israelites who wished to return to Egypt. They even had dared to stone Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Caleb before God intervened.

    Caleb remembered God’s punishment. How could he forget? The sin of others had cost Joshua and him 40 long years of wandering in the wilderness while a generation perished. Caleb remembered how God had spared Joshua and him while the other spies died of a plague.

    Caleb remembered it all. And when his mind stopped racing, he remembered this:

    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.’ 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. 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.

    Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day. (Joshua 14:9-12, nkjv)

    Joshua honors Caleb’s request, rewarding a lifetime of dedication to God. Caleb waited 45 years for the mountain of Hebron to be presented him for his faithfulness to God. (Numbers 13-14) God made His promise to Caleb in Numbers 14:24, and it is that promise in which we discover why Caleb was mighty in spirit.

    But My servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully . . . .

    Caleb was a man of action, which you would expect from someone whose name means "all heart." His bold and frank life was full of verve and verbs. Yet adverbs best define Caleb.

    "Six times it is recorded of Caleb, "he hath fully followed the Lord," writes Bible teacher Henry Lockyer. "What magnificent adverbs are used to describe Caleb. He followed faithfully, wholly, fully. He never lowered his standards, but was perpetually wholehearted."

    There is much to learn from Caleb’s example, much to emulate of the man who was all heart, indeed:

     Repeatedly, we learn that Caleb followed the Lord fully. Faith cannot be full without constant, abiding fellowship with the Lord. Caleb’s was a faith so full that the fearsome and giant people called the Anakim living on Hebron did not deter him. He believed the Lord when few others did. He claimed the promises of God and did not allow four harsh decades to temper his belief.

     Declaring himself fit for war against giants even at an advanced age, Caleb proclaimed not his own strength but that of the Lord. He had wanted to take possession of Canaan 45 years earlier, and he hadn’t changed his mind. He hadn’t allowed the enemy to deter or intimidate him. How many saints today would wait 45 days for their answer? Forty-five minutes?

     Another meaning for the name Caleb is "bold, impetuous." Frivolous boldness it was not, however. It was the Spirit of God speaking through Caleb when he urged on his comrades who were stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears. Because he is called a Kenizzite in the Bible, some scholars believe Caleb’s lineage came through the Edomites and that he wasn’t even an Israelite! Yet he stood up to peer pressure and held aloft his Lord’s banner. The Lord is with us. Do not fear them, he implored. (Numbers 14:9b)

    Caleb truly was all heart, and that heart was powerful because he was obedient to the Spirit of God within it. Every believer would do well to follow suit, first ensuring that his faith is full and his heart all surrendered as he faces the foreboding mountain before him–or wishes to possess it.