MOMENTS OF TRUTH
Taking A Mountain at Age 85!
22 September 2019
To begin our lesson this morning we need to go back to the book of Numbers and read through a section of Scripture to set the stage for our discussion. Numbers 13:21 - 14:12 , “So they went up and spied out the land from the Wilderness of Zin as far as Rehob, near the entrance of Hamath. 22 And they went up through the South and came to Hebron; Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the descendants of Anak, were there. (Now Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.) 23 Then they came to the Valley of Eshcol, and there cut down a branch with one cluster of grapes; they carried it between two of them on a pole. They also brought some of the pomegranates and figs. 24 The place was called the Valley of Eshcol, because of the cluster which the men of Israel cut down there. 25 And they returned from spying out the land after forty days. 26 Now they departed and came back to Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the children of Israel in the Wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; they brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 Then they told him, and said: "We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. 28 "Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there. 29 "The Amalekites dwell in the land of the South; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and along the banks of the Jordan." 30 Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, "Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it." 31 But the men who had gone up with him said, "We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we." 32 And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, "The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. 33 "There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight." 1 So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. 2 And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, "If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! 3 "Why has the LORD brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?" 4 So they said to one another, "Let us select a leader and return to Egypt." 5 Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel. 6 But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; 7 and they spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying: "The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. 8 "If the LORD delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, 'a land which flows with milk and honey.' 9 "Only do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the LORD is with us. Do not fear them." 10 And all the congregation said to stone them with stones. Now the glory of the LORD appeared in the tabernacle of meeting before all the children of Israel. 11 Then the LORD said to Moses: "How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them? 12 "I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they."
Most of us are aware of former President George Herbert Walker Bush sky diving for his 90th Birthday. Let’s bring this event of “sky diving” closer to home. My great uncle, Buster Crocket, for his 90th birthday also went sky diving, then he went again for his 91st. For many of us the thought of sky diving at any age seems a bit much. But for these men it was a way of expressing, well, whatever they were trying to express. When it comes to spiritual matters there are several what we would call “elderly” examples in the Bible that did things later in their lives to prove their faithfulness to God. Anna, the prophetess, found in the book of Luke chapter 2, was 84 years old. She did not depart from the temple but served God with fasting and prayers night and day (Luke 2:36-38). You see a very strange and interesting thing has occurred in America: In a little over three decades we have moved from an emphasis on youth to: The “greying of America.” One challenge facing the Lord’s church is that of harnessing the energy of our older people. Far too often our older generation see themselves as no longer being “able” to do those things they once did in their youth. There are many who are retiring with so many years of life remaining. When we say retiring, we mean they simply have stopped doing things. In the book of Joshua however, Caleb does not let his age stop him from “Taking a mountain at age 85!” Listen closely to the words of Caleb in Joshua 14:6-15, “Then the children of Judah came to Joshua in Gilgal. And Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite 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; 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." 13 And Joshua blessed him, and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh as an inheritance. 14 Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholly followed the LORD God of Israel. 15 And the name of Hebron formerly was Kirjath Arba (Arba was the greatest man among the Anakim). Then the land had rest from war.”
There are two significant things in the life of Caleb that will potentially bless us. The first are the Characteristics of a Great Person. A Great Person relies on God’s Word. Three times this is emphasized in Joshua. Joshua 14:6, “Then the children of Judah came to Joshua in Gilgal. And Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him: "You know the word which the LORD said to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh Barnea.” Joshua 14:10, “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.” And Joshua 14:12, “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.”
You see God is real to those who rely on His Word. God is faithful to those who rely on His word. As well, God’s promises are powerful to those who rely on his word as Peter says in 2 Peter 1:3, “as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,”
Another characteristic of a great person stands by their convictions. In Joshua 14:7 and 8 we read of Caleb’s convictions, “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.” When we go back and read this account in Numbers 13:30 listen to what Caleb says, “Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, "Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” The Pessimism of the 10 did not sway him!
Another Characteristic of a great person is when a person “wholly” follows the Lord. Listen to the words of Caleb in Joshua 14:8, “"Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the LORD my God.” Why, even Moses is quoted as having said it about Caleb in Joshua 14:9, “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.'” The Lord desires for people to wholly follow Him!
Another Characteristic of a great person is in trusting God’s providence. We see this with Caleb in Joshua 14:12, “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.”
These four characteristics of a great person: One who relies on God’s Word; One who stands by their convictions; One who wholly follows the Lord; and One who trusts in God’s providence can be found in Caleb. Caleb at age 85 was still striving to follow the Lord. He did not allow his age to prevent him from his service.
Now, the second thing in the life of Caleb that will potentially bless us is in the fact Caleb was challenged. A great question can be asked, “What is the purpose of an 85 year old man?” Is it for him to wait to die? Or is it for him to seek to serve? In Joshua 14:12 we see Caleb’s attitude, “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.”
Notice these precious words of Christ found in Matthew 20:26-28, "Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 "And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave-- 28 "just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
Our attitude, no matter the age should be like Caleb’s, “Give me the mountain of service!” That is a “Mountain” of faithful worship. That is a “Mountain” of reaching out to the lost with tracts, notes, phone calls, you name it. It also includes a “Mountain” of seeking those who have fallen away with Love and tender mercy. Seeking them with meekness and fear. Consider the words of Paul in Galatians 6:1, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” Also consider the words of James in James 5:19-20, “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.”
This “mountain of service” also means of reaching out to the lonely and widowed. This can be done through phone calls or cards, or better yet a visit! Our service can also include a “Mountain” of encouraging the younger ones. That means, teenagers, middle schoolers, elementary students, even pre-schoolers!
All these things are challenges for many brethren today. Many struggle to overcome their shyness. This can be at any age! But let’s ask another question: “Why are Christians saved?” Well, let’s let the Bible give us the answer. Look at Proverbs 11:30, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who wins souls is wise.” Let’s follow that with Daniel 12:3, “Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever.”
Learning the attitude of Caleb the 85 year old man is crucial for all of us. No matter our age, the Lord’s Work always needs to be done. Think of the words of Haggi 2:19, “'Is the seed still in the barn? As yet the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have not yielded fruit. But from this day I will bless you.'" If we keep the seed in the barn nothing will grow. That means we must get it out of the barn and put it in the soil as we read Jesus’ parable of the sower in Luke 8:5-15, “"A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6 "Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. 7 "And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. 8 "But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold." When He had said these things He cried, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!" 9 Then His disciples asked Him, saying, "What does this parable mean?" 10 And He said, "To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that 'Seeing they may not see, And hearing they may not understand.' 11 "Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 "Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. 13 "But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. 14 "Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. 15 "But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.”
Let’s remember what the spies were tasked with back in Numbers 13-14. They were to spy out the land and report back what they found. Caleb and Joshua found the land to be wonderful and they were ready, willing, and able to take it! They knew God would be with them, no doubting.
Today, Christians are taught to teach! And therefore, we must always teach others about Christ, no matter our age. Listen to the words of Paul to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2, “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” This mindset has been passed down from generation to generation for nearly 2,000 years! Those Characteristics we found in Caleb are to be found in us today! Being faithful and able to do the Lord’s work at any age is a requirement of God’s children. We have been saved to save! The Holy Spirit dictated in 1 Timothy 4:16, “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.”
It is quite clear from Caleb, he was ready, willing and able to do whatever the Lord Willed him to do. He was not going to let his age prevent him. He recognized that God’s promises were true in his life. He was not going to forget what God had done for him and he knew he was undeserving. The only way for him to repay, which he really couldn’t do, was to live an obedient life to God.
Caleb’s attitude reminds me of Isaiah’s in Isaiah 6:8, “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: "Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me."
There is a song we sing from time to time to help us with this attitude of “taking a mountain” as Caleb. The song: “Lord Send Me.” Which is based upon Isaiah 6:8 and was written by M. W. Spencer.
The song reads: “There is much to do, there’s work on ev’ry hand, Hark! The cry for help comes ringing through th eland; Jesus calls for reapers, I must active be, What wilt Thou, O Master? Here am I send me!”
The second verse says, “Ther’s the plaintive cry of mourning souls distressed, And the sigh of hearts who seek but find no rest; These should have my love and tender sympathy, Ready at Thy bidding, here am I send me.”
The third verse says, “There are hung’ring souls who cry aloud for bread, With the bread of life they’re longing to be fed; Shall they starve and famish while a feast is free? I must be more faithful, here am I send me!”
The last verse says, “There are souls who linger on the brink of woe, Lord, I must not, can not bear to let them go; Let me go and tell them, brother, turn and flee, Master, I would save them, here am I send me!”
This is a very motivational song for the one seeking to “take a mountain” like Caleb. That mountain of service to God. Again, let’s remember, it doesn’t matter what age you are. The Work of the Lord needs to be done. So, to quote the words of the song “Brighten the Corner Where You Are” by Ina Ogen and C. H. Gabriel, “Do not wait until some deed of greatness you may do, Do not wait to shed your light afar, To the many duties ever near you now be true, Brighten the corner where you are.” “Just above are clouded skies that you may help to clear, Let not narrow self your way debar, Tho’ into one heart alone may fall your song of cheer, Brighten the corner where you are.” “Here for all your talent you may surely find a need, Here reflect the bright morning star, Even from your humble hand the bread of life may feed, Brighten the corner where you are.”
As we go through life, the Good Lord blesses us with various talents and abilities. We simply must recognize them, put our faith and trust in God and utilize them. At some point those abilities and talents may fade as we age, but there is always a means for us to continue to serve God if it’s only to sit and listen to someone who simply needs a shoulder to cry on.