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The Seasons of Caleb’s Life

by Julius Hovan

(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)


HovansWelcome to this broadcast of Words of Life. We are so glad you have chosen to tune in and maybe you can call someone and ask them to join you as you listen to words that will bring you hope and encouragement. It is my pleasure to be the speaker for this broadcast today and we hope you will stay tuned and God’s Word can be a blessing to you.

It is a sign of our age as we grow older to think about the seasons of our life and what we have done or accomplished or haven’t done in our past lives. The psalmist writes these words as he looks back at the goodness of the Lord in Psalm 92 beginning at verse 12: “The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree. He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of Jehovah. They flourish in the courts of our God. They shall bring fourth fruit in old age. They shall be full of sap and green.”

Is this your view of growing older? Or maybe you are like me, you are already older or old as we think of age, those of us in our 70s and 80s especially. We are well aware that aging is a part of life and death is a culmination of life. And between the beginning and the end of that life, we have to choose to really live that life and to be fruitful. And that is especially true if we are God’s people. He wants us to be fruitful and he empowers us to be fruitful.

Our Japanese friends have a saying that from the age of 55 through our retirement is the age of fruition. That is, we are to keep bearing fruit and maybe our sweetest and greatest bearing of fruit can be in our old age. Beyond that we can interpret life, as we think of the next generation and what they are going to do, and we can show the younger people a joyous way of living and, yes, even a faithful way of facing death.

Here is a biblical example of this that has been an encouragement to me and it is the man we know as Caleb. There are three seasons of the life of Caleb and I want us to note his attitude and his faith and the testimony of his life and the fruit that he bore. At the age of 40 he faces a crisis of courage. And you can read about it in Numbers chapter 13.
You will remember that he was one of 12 men sent into the land of Canaan to spy it out and to explore it and to give a report of what they saw in the land. Ten of them reported horrible things. The residents there are like giants and we are like grasshoppers. And the walls are strong and big and we could never take that land.

Caleb, and one other of the 12 believed God would give them the land. So it was 10 to two. We have come to accept that the majority is always right. Some years ago there was a group of people called the moral majority. Well, the truth is, my friends, today, and it has always been, the majority are often wrong. The majority have often been those who cause death, as these who had to die in the wilderness. They were dead wrong.

The difference between the 10 and the two is that the 10 said we cannot and the two said we can. One sees an impossibility, the other a possibility. The ten said we will be as grasshoppers but the two saw giants in themselves and victors over giants. Some saw fear, some saw hope. The two who trusted God, Caleb and Joshua, had the quality of faith determined by their objective. Not in what they could see, but in the God who called them and the God whom they served.

J. B. Phillips, a well known author wrote a book, Your God is Too Small. How big is your God? What is going on in your life, the season of life where you are? What is happening in your church? Is it a life of giants and grasshoppers? What analogy of life might this give to you and to me? What is your view of God? How great is he?

In the young seasons of Caleb’s life there was the crisis of courage and he faced it with great faith. If one season represents the younger years of this man, as many of us think of our lives and some of you are probably there even now in your 20s, 30s and 40s, we move on to middle age for Caleb. The Scriptures are silent about him from his 40s until he is 80 years of life. He spent those 40 years in the wilderness, in the wandering that went on because of the disobedience of the children of Israel. He faced not only the crisis of courage early, but now the crisis of consequence, the consequence of paying for their faithlessness and their lack of following God. What a terrible waste for such a talented man as he was. His expectations were not due to his own decisions, but those of others who caused him to have to wander in the wilderness. The ‘we can’t do it grasshopper mentality’ often brings down others.

So, today, we must live with choices and decisions and many of those are not made by us. They are made in the city hall, they are made in the capital of our nation, or wherever they might be made, we must live by decisions that others make. This is often so in our churches, decisions made by elders and deacons and boards or the preachers or members. They all have an affect upon our lives as this did upon the life of Caleb. It is easy to get discouraged in the midst of all of that and to want to quit, to not any longer contribute. An attitude of ‘I lived my life and I have done well and I am not going to put forth any more effort.’

So we lose our fervor. We get complacent. Our once ardent love has cooled and worship has become boring, Bible study is dry, prayer is non existent. Work and service for others is minimal or non existent as well. Here in Caleb’s third season we find a man who endured, whose spiritual stature did not dim. He didn’t like the decision, the situation that he was in, but he kept going and doing what God had intended him to do. We must cultivate, somebody said, the glory of the grind. What an interesting thing for us to think about.

Season three and sometimes life certainly is a grind, is it not? Here in the latter years of his life is where Caleb really shines. He dealt with a crisis of courage. He dealt with a crisis of consequence. Now as a man 85 years of old, having faced these two crises, he stood against the majority. He faced the wilderness wanderings. He made the most of the decisions of others. Now he faces the crisis of choice. He wonders if what he does will matter. Will my vote count and have an effect? What about my feeble efforts as an old man? What about my little bit of money? We might wonder, if I stay away, it won’t matter. My presence is not important. But you are important and your presence is important.

Caleb’s answer comes in the book of Joshua chapter 14 and it is such a challenge to me as I approach the latter years of my life. In chapter 14 of Joshua beginning in verse 10, “Now behold the Lord has kept me alive these 45 years from the time he spake unto Moses while Israel walked in the wilderness and now I am this day four score and five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me. As my strength was then, even so is my strength now for war and to go out and to come in.”

Now listen to what he adds, “Now, therefore, give me this hill country whereof Jehovah spake in that day, for you heard in that day how the Anakim, the giants were there and there were cities great and terrified. It may be the Lord will be with me and I will drive them out as Jehovah spoke.” And so here is Caleb, in the closing years of his life, desiring to climb mountains, desiring to choose the challenge, desiring to face the giants that exist. What a difference that truth makes. He will, God will, God has... If we have that attitude, what a difference it makes. A hero at 40 is still a man of faith at 85. He plans new and demanding ventures. The only thing greater than physical strength is his spiritual strength. If we are spiritually strong, age and physical limitations need not stop our being used for the glory of God. Even the bedfast patient can have a life of prayer and a ministry of prayer for the church and for the needs of others.

Is it time for you to remove your slippers and to get out of the lazy boy chair, to put on your hiking boots or your work boots and say, “God, give me a mountain”? The past work that has been so successful ought to move us to continue on and not to retire from our service for God.

And so I ask you today: At whatever age of life you are, at whatever stage of life you are, you can ask God for a mountain. You can ask God to sustain you and meet your needs. You can soar like eagles as if you were in your youth. You can run and not grow weary in your middle age or even in old age. You can walk and not need to faint. Regardless of your age, you can trust God to empower you and to use you.

Let me close with some practical admonitions. In what area do you need to trust God more for your family, some of whom may be unsaved or rebellious? For your health? Do you have infirmity that comes with age or disease that comes with any age? Or maybe it is financial stress. Your nest egg has shrunk. The bank account is getting low. Or maybe in the church where you are the devil is busy, the preacher bashing goes on. There is a failure to follow the leadership of good, godly men and maybe the leaders fail to lead or maybe sin has crept in. Or maybe in your ministry, if you are a servant of God, whatever God has told you to do?
Someone has said it this way: ‘Death begins when memories are more powerful than dreams’. I have often heard elderly people say: ‘Oh, I remember 40 years ago.’ That may be fine, but that is history. What about now? They don't talk about goals. They don’t talk about new horizons. They don’t talk about strength of purpose.


Listen to what it says about Caleb in verses 7 and 8 of Joshua chapter 14. “Forty years old I was when Moses, the servant of God, sent me from Kadeshbarnea to spy out the land and I brought word again as it was in my heart. Nevertheless, my brethren that went with me made the heart of the people melt, but I completely, totally, absolutely followed my Lord.” Here is the testimony of this man Caleb. Here is his word for us.

And listen to the testimony of God himself in the book of Deuteronomy. What would God say about me? What will he say about you? He says this in chapter one of the book of Deuteronomy verses 35 and 36: “Surely there shall not be one of these men of this evil generation to see the good land that I swore to give them under your fathers.” Nobody is going into the land. But look at the next verse: “Except Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, he will go in and to him will I give the land that he has trodden upon and to his children.” Why? Because he has wholly followed Jehovah.

Are you following the Lord today? Can you claim Jesus as Savior and Lord in your life? We would like to help you with making that decision. If you are a Christian, will you become more faithful to him day by day? God bless you and thank you for tuning in today to the Words of Life broadcast.


Julius Hovan is minister of the Bohon Church of Christ, Bohon, KY

One Response to “The Seasons of Caleb’s Life”

  1. edwinnamatsheve says:

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If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

Romans 14:8