God’s Challenge To Us: The Young and The Old

SIGNS THAT YOU’RE GETTING OLDER:

–You’re asleep, but others worry that you’re dead.

–Your back goes out more often than you do.

–You quit trying to hold your stomach in, no matter who walks in the room.

–You sing along with the elevator music.

–People call at 9:00 P.M. and ask, “Did I wake you up?”

–Your ears are hairier than you head.

If you are reading the above list of signs of getting older, and don’t get the humor, that’s okay.  I didn’t get the humor twenty years ago either.  But now, when I read this list, my reaction is, “The signs are describing me!”  Especially the last sign. 🙂

A Great Story About An Old Man ~ Joshua 14:6-15:

Let me briefly give you a review while you are looking the verses up in your Bibles.  The first half of the book of Joshua is full of stories; of God leading His people, the Israelites, into the Promised Land.

It started with the miraculous crossing of the Jordan River and continued as the Israelites fought and claimed the land.  Chapters 10 and 11 then summarizes the military campaign.

Chapter 12 contains a simple list of all the kings that the Lord’s army defeated; and that’s the first half of the book.  The second half focuses on the divisions of the land allocated to the various tribes of Israel.  There are a lot of historical details but I’m not going to spend that much time in describing the events and just pull out a few stories tucked in between.

The First Story Is In Chapter 14:6-15:

At first glance, after reading, it doesn’t seem too remarkable.  Just another leader showing up, asking for his land allotment.  But being The Word Detective, my spirit wanted to dig a little bit, to understand the background and the uniqueness begining to shine through in the story.  Just a suggestion: you can’t uncover the truth in God’s Word unless you’re diligent in seeking the evidence; meditate, observe and do!  (Joshua 1:8).

The Story of Caleb:

The story begins forty-five years earlier in the time of Moses.  He was one of the twelve spies sent into the promised land; spying out the land and its inhabitants.  If you recall the story, 12 spies returned and reported to all the people:

“We came to the land to which you sent us; surely it flows with milk and honey.  This is its fruit.  But the people who dwell there are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; moreover, there we saw the sons of Anak [of great stature and courage]”  (Numbers 13:27-28 AMP).

As the result of this report, the people were terrified and did not believe God could deliver the land safely.  PROMISES always bring HOPE but they lost their HOPE and FAITH, losing sight of the destination.  Does that happen to you sometimes, when the circumstances overwhelm your FAITH AND HOPE in what God has already promised?

The word HOPE can be defined as a “persistent expectation.”  The Greek word is, capokaradokia; “a watching with outstretched head; capo=from and Kara=the head, and dokeo=to look or to watch.” (See Romans 8:19; Philippians 1:20 and see Lamentations 3:21, 24-25).  The Greek language also signifies, “strained expectancy, eager longing.”

Caleb and Joshua, before entering into the land, believed in God’s promises.  They entered with expectancy; watching with outstretched necks in a HOPEFUL EXPECTATION!

As the result of this report by 10 of the 12 spies, the people REBELLED against the Lord.  Consequently, they were sent back into the wilderness for forty years until all the unfaithful died.  Joshua took over and brought the new generation into the Promised Land.  For not all 12 spies agreed with the proposed course of action.  Two of them, Joshua and Caleb dissented, trying to encourage the people to have FAITH and HOPE; believe in God’s promise to give them the land.

That Brings Us To The “NITTY-GRITTY” Of The STORY.

If you are unfamiliar with the phrase, “nitty-gritty”:  An informal word, meaning the specific or practical details; the heart of a matter.

From the story in Numbers, lets now fast forward forty-five years.  Caleb had survived the 40 years of wandering in the desert; fought alongside of Joshua and took the promised land.  When we come to verses 6-9, we see that Caleb has laid out the facts, reminding Joshua that he had been faithful through it all, followed God’s instructions even though others had not.  Then in verse 9, CALEB claims the promise Moses had made to him and his descendants because of his faithfulness:

“And Moses swore on that day,  Surely the land on which your feet have walked shall be an inheritance to you and your children always, because you have wholly followed the Lord my God [Deut. 1:35, 36]”  (Joshua 14:9 AMP).

CALEB makes his request known.  I love verse 10:

“And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years since the Lord spoke this word to Moses, while the Israelites wandered in the wilderness; and now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old.”

CALEB reports his age–getting up there in years!  85 is pretty old!!  Caleb has proven his faithfulness in serving his Lord for an entire lifetime and now it’s time to claim the promise God made to him through Moses.

I just got a few thoughts, so let’s PAUSE for a minute and ask ourselves a few questions:

1.  Wouldn’t we understand if Caleb was a little tired at his age of fighting the battles set before him?

2.  Wouldn’t it make sense for him to retreat to the background a little bit more, let the young enthusiastic warriors take over and retire to a nice tent in the Sun City retirement community in Canaan, live out his years playing bridge, sipping ice tea with his feet in the community pool, telling stories of how hard those desert years were?

We sort of expect Caleb to continue on from verse 10 by saying:  “Yes, I’m 85 now, and the Lord promised me some land to settle down in, and He knows I earned it, so…this needs to be the next priority for your soldiers Joshua:  send them up right away to clear the way for me and my descendants, fight off all the bad guys, and tell them to make sure the pool is clean and the ice tea is cool…I’ll just wait over here in my Laz-y-boy until they’re finished.”

BUT… as the next two verses read, that is NOT what Caleb said:

“Yet I am as strong today as I was the day Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so is my strength now for war and to go out and to come in [11].  So now give me this hill country of which the Lord spoke that day. For you heard then how the [giantlike] Anakim were there and that the cities were great and fortified; if the Lord will be with me, I shall drive them out just as the Lord said” [12]  (Joshua 14:11-12 AMP).

Instead of waiting to retire, Caleb wants to stay in the game:

–He still has HEALTH.

–He still has ENERGY.

–He definitely has DESIRE…and

–He picks the BIGGEST BATTLE.

I started working outside of my childhood home at the age of 17 and at the age of twenty-four and two kids later, I entered the field of wholesale plumbing.  I officially retired from the industry at the age of sixty.   At a very young age, I could hardly wait to retire, spend the rest of my years enjoying all the things I wanted to do but couldn’t or didn’t do.  After 40-plus years of fighting many battles in the wilderness, I thought I had finally arrived at the Promised Land boundaries.  Well, it hasn’t exactly turned out that way and I don’t believe at the young age of 40, Caleb could see what was up ahead.  But he knew he could TRUST God’s PROMISES.

A SENIOR CITIZEN TAKING ON GIANTS:

Caleb says, “give me the hill country…where the ‘giantlike’ Anakin and their cities that were great and fortified.”  Instead of retirement, Caleb takes on the biggest CHALLENGE.

Uncovering evidence from God’s word, regarding Caleb’s and some of us who are in an area of life where we need to say, “We’re NEVER done until:

–God takes us home and there is SOMETHING He still wants me to do as long as He gives me breath.”

–Maybe it is to KNOW HIM more!

–Maybe it is to WORSHIP HIM more!

–Maybe it is to CONTINUE to USE THE GIFTS God has given to each one of us, to SERVE in His kingdom.

God Has Been Preparing You For Today’s Task Your Whole Life Whether You Knew Or Not.

In many ways, Caleb was the perfect person to lead the fight against the giants.  He had the most experience; seen the most battles; waited 45 years for the opportunity.  In whatever we face today in our circumstances, God has been preparing us for by drawing strength in the realization: Whatever the hurdles I face, God has been preparing and equipping me to meet them.  He is in control and knows what He’s doing and will walk with me to handle the situations of life.

You might have to wait 45 years to see God’s PROMISE; you might have to get in and fight for it.  CALEB waited 45 years to experience God’s promise.  We know from the story in Joshua, CALEB NEVER forgot the words God said to him through Moses.  And when the time was right, he stepped forward to claim the promise.

I often want to claim the promises of God like gifts from Santa–things that just show up in my life without any effort on my part.  CALEB models the opposite approach to claim the promise of God:

–By acting like there is nothing standing in the way of God keeping those promises.  It didn’t matter that he was 85 yrs old; didn’t matter that the Anakites were intimidating.  All that really mattered to CALEB was that God had made a promise.  So CALEB grabbed his sword and headed for the hills to defeat the enemy.

It Takes FAITH and HOPE:

To act on the PROMISES of God in our lives before we see evidence of their fulfillment it takes FAITH and HOPE.  Let me give just a few Scriptural references:

“Keep on asking and it will be given to you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking [reverently] and [the door] will be opened to you”  (Matthew 7:7 AMP).

“Do not be anxious beforehand about what you are to say; but say whatever is given to you in that hour and at the moment, for it is not you who will be speaking, but the Holy Spirit”  (Mark 13:11b).

“And you will know the TRUTH, and the TRUTH will set you free”  (John 8:32).

Sometimes the PROMISES of God appear instantly without any action on our part.  But more often, I believe, acting in FAITH is the course we take to see the fullness of God’s PROMISES!

THE END OF THE STORY:

You might be wondering how the battle turned out for this Senior Citizen named Caleb.  The answer is found in Joshua 15:13-17:

“And to Caleb son of Jephunneh, [Joshua} gave a part among the people of Judah, as the Lord commanded [him]; it was Kiriath-arba, which is Hebron, [named for] Arba the father of Anak.  And Caleb drove from there three sons of Anak–Sheshai and Ahiman and Talmai–the descendants of Anak [14].  He went up from there against the people of Debir.  Debir was formerly named Kiriath-sepher [15].  Caleb said, He who smites Kiriath-sepher and takes it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter as wife [16].  And Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s brother, took it; and he gave him Achsah his daughter as wife [17].”

God was FAITHFUL after 45 years with a soldier who was 85 yrs old and the mighty giants were destroyed.

The CHALLENGES Set Before Us By God:

TO THE YOUNG–

1.  BE PATIENT.  It might take 45 years, but God will always keep His promises–ALWAYS!

2.  NEVER UNDERESTIMATE what God can do through someone older than you.

3.  RESPECT those who are older.  LEAN on their experiences.  They’ve fought a lot of battles and can save you a lot of injury and mistakes, if only you won’t be too PROUD to SEEK them out and ask for their input.

TO THE OLD (er)–

1.  KNOW that God isn’t finished with you until He takes you home.

2.  ACTIVELY CLAIM the PROMISES of God.  Will you fight the toughest battles now? 

And what are those, you wonder??  BATTLES FOUGHT IN PRAYER:

1.  PRAY for our teens.

2.  PRAY for our children and grandchildren.

3.  PRAY for our church leaders.

4.  PRAY for our pastors, young and older.

5.  PRAY for the parents of young people.

6.  PRAY for children’s ministry teachers.

AND MOST OF ALL,

PRAY for your community that the LOVE JESUS might break through the resistance and bring life to those who don’t know JESUS!

I was thinking through my DETECTIVE investigation; notes I made in God’s Word; about what the modern equivalent of the Anakites might be.  How to fight the “giants” of today.  I’ve concluded by recognizing, the battles are only going to be fought and won in prayer.  Those of us who are seniors need to PRAY MORE FERVENTLY.  Or as my pastor has recently said, VIOLENT PRAYERS!  Come on Church!  Lets take ACTION!!

God honestly doesn’t care how old we are.  He cares that our hearts are His and that He is the focus of our lives.  And when that is the case, it doesn’t matter what GIANTS we face.  GOD WILL BE VICTORIOUS!

Are you willing to TAKE THE CHALLENGE?  Leave your comments and commitments at the end of the blog.  I would love to hear from you.

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One thought on “God’s Challenge To Us: The Young and The Old

  1. My grandmother used to say “you’ll never learn any younger.” Learning new things was her way of staying young. The year she spent dying of cancer, she took classes in things that interested her. She was a painter, and skilled with a needle and knitting needles, and a crochet hook. She read voraciously and composed stories for her grandchildren. Following her example, I became a published author in February before I turned 72 in June. Love this example. As a challenge, please find either the word or the concept “retirement” in scripture. I dare you. 🙂

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