“And Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden shall be an inheritance for you and your children forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord my God.’” – Caleb to Joshua, Joshua 14:9
While the land was being divided up among the tribes, Caleb approached Joshua and reminded him of a promise that God had made after Moses had sent spies into the land—a story we read about in Numbers 13-14. Moses sent twelve spies into Canaan, one from each tribe, a number that included both Caleb and Joshua.
The spies returned saying that the land was a good land, flowing with milk and honey as God had promised. But ten of the spies discouraged the people by telling how mighty the inhabitants of the land were and how their mighty armies would surely crush Israel. Only Caleb and Joshua proved faithful and held onto the assurance of God’s promise to fight for the people.
The result was that every person twenty years old or older was left to wander and die in the wilderness over a 40-year period. Those nineteen and under at that point would be allowed to enter the land with their future children and grandchildren.
Caleb and Joshua were the exception to this. Both, though, still had to wander through the wilderness for four decades just like the rest of the people. But whereas their peers died, Caleb noted, “Behold, the Lord has kept me alive, just as he said, these forty-five years since the time that the Lord spoke this word to Moses… I am this day eighty-five years old. I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me” (Joshua 14:10-11).
So, Caleb received what he was promised. The reward of his obedience was something he had to wait patiently for, but at the proper time it came. It is the same for followers of Jesus when the Bible calls us to endurance (Hebrews 10:36, Revelation 14:12).
The fulfillment of God’s promises is not often immediate. Before we experience everything God has promised us, we may have to spend 40 years wandering in the wilderness, we may have to spend a lifetime. But, the day will come when we receive what has been promised; and when that day arrives, the wait and anything we endure in the process will prove more than worth it (Romans 8:18).
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