Caleb said: Give me this hill country... Jesus says: "many who are first will be last" and that's ok
Joshua 14 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Now these are the territories which the sons of Israel inherited in the land of Canaan, which Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun, and the heads of the households of the tribes of the sons of Israel apportioned to them for an inheritance, 2 by the lot of their inheritance, as the Lord commanded through Moses, for the nine tribes and the half-tribe. 3 For Moses had given the inheritance of the two tribes and the half-tribe beyond the Jordan; but he did not give an inheritance to the Levites among them. 4 For the sons of Joseph were two tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim, and they did not give a portion to the Levites in the land, except cities to live in, with their pasture lands for their livestock and for their property. 5 Thus the sons of Israel did just as the Lord had commanded Moses, and they divided the land.
6 Then the sons of Judah drew near to Joshua in Gilgal, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know the word which the Lord spoke 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 word back to him as it was in my heart. 8 Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt with fear; but I followed the Lord my God fully. 9 So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden will be an inheritance to you and to your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God fully.’ 10 Now behold, the Lord has let me live, just as He spoke, these forty-five years, from the time that the Lord spoke this word to Moses, when Israel walked in the wilderness; and now behold, I am eighty-five years old today. 11 I am still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out and coming in. 12 Now then, give me this hill country about which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day that Anakim were there, with great fortified cities; perhaps the Lord will be with me, and I will drive them out as the Lord has spoken.”
13 So Joshua blessed him and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance. 14 Therefore, Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite until this day, because he followed the Lord God of Israel fully. 15 Now the name of Hebron was formerly Kiriath-arba; for Arba was the greatest man among the Anakim. Then the land had rest from war.
This account of Caleb continuing to go after his promised inheritance at the age of eighty-five is a source of great encouragement to me. Caleb was one of the original spies. He tried to encourage the Israelites to follow God and take possession of their inheritance forty five years earlier than this account. Because of their disobedience and their lack of faith the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for forty years until the entire faithless generation, other than Caleb and Joshua died. Joshua was spared. Even after those forty years of wandering and being at an age when most people feel like life has passed them by, Caleb was still focused on obtaining all that had been promised to him. I want to be like Caleb. For me it is a little different. I too spent many years wandering in the wilderness. For me though it was my own disobedience and faithlessness which brought about my wandering. Unlike the Israelites who died in the wilderness, by the grace of God, through His great love demonstrated on the cross of Christ, I was not made to die in the wilderness, but rather I was redeemed. I was restored. I was resurrected with Christ to live. While I am now at an age when many people begin to think about retiring, settling down and enjoying whatever they have in and from their years of labor, I like Caleb, want to pursue the promised inheritance I have been given in Christ. My hope is that like Caleb, even at eighty-five, I will be able to say: I am eighty-five years old today. I am still as strong today as I was in the day Moses sent me; as my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out and coming in. Now then, give me this hill country about which the Lord spoke on that day. Even if my physical strength is diminished, my prayer is that I will continue to grow stronger in the Spirit, and I like Caleb, will continue to say give me that mountain. For us, our inheritance in Christ is more than a piece of real estate. It is more than the promise of eternity with God in heaven. Our inheritance is to live an abundant life. That’s what Jesus says He came to give in John 10:10. Our inheritance is living with the blessing of all the promises of God. That’s what I want to continue to do as long as I live.
When I read this account again though, I saw something else to encourage me. The text says: Thus the sons of Israel did just as the Lord had commanded Moses, and they divided the land. Then the sons of Judah drew near to Joshua in Gilgal, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know the word which the Lord spoke to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh-barnea. 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 word back to him as it was in my heart. Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt with fear; but I followed the Lord my God fully. So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden will be an inheritance to you and to your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God fully.’ Now behold, the Lord has let me live, just as He spoke, these forty-five years, from the time that the Lord spoke this word to Moses, when Israel walked in the wilderness. Not only did Caleb wander in the wilderness for those forty years, he also helped the rest of the Israelites take possession of their inheritance. For another five years Caleb faithfully continued to help others receive and take possession of their inheritance. The rest of the land was already divided when Caleb said: Give me this hill country about which the Lord spoke on that day.
Here’s the application for us: In Matthew 19:29-30 Jesus says: “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last; and the last, first.” In Matthew 20:16 Jesus says: “The last shall be first, and the first last.” Caleb is a model for us in walking with and serving the Lord. For those forty years in the wilderness he carried the promise of God to the younger generation. He didn’t grumble and complain. Instead he led and guided them. He spoke to them about the mighty power of God. That generation had not seen the things he saw, but they heard them from Caleb. Even after they crossed the Jordan and entered the Promised Land, Caleb was not the first to receive his inheritance. Instead, he fought with and for the others so that they would get all that they had been given. He who was first to see and set foot in the Promised Land, was the last to receive his inheritance.
What the Lord revealed to me is that our inheritance is not a destination to be strived for or to work toward. Our inheritance is something we possess as soon as we receive Christ as Lord and savior. Our inheritance is living the abundant life Jesus gives. Part of our journey is to, like Caleb, help others along the way, to be a guide and a warrior with and for them. Part of our inheritance is seeing others be blessed even as we are still on the journey. It is not a punishment to be the ones Jesus spoke of when He said the first shall be last. It is an honor and a privilege to be considered worthy to lead others to inherit all that God has given them.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit; thank You for Your promises and for my inheritance in Christ. Thank You for giving me both eternal life, in the future and abundant life now. Thank You for redeeming me that I might walk with You and work for You. May I always see those who You have given me to help obtain their inheritance. As long as I live, may I continue to keep my eyes on the inheritance You have given and may I faithfully help others to be first. Amen.