Summary: Courage to move on is a practical sermon illustration simple Biblical principles to move on to God’s promises in our lives based on the life of Caleb.
We all are working towards various goals in life. Many times people start of well, work very hard to towards a goal, but get discouraged midway. Some come all the way to the brink of victory, yet when the moment comes for their dream to come to pass, they miss it. Are you stuck up in life at some point? Are you finding roadblocks to your promises? Have you lost the courage to move on?
Caleb was born in Egypt, given into slavery for Pharaoh. It was a tough life and a hard job. When he was 40 years old he left Egypt with the Israelites. Then, he had spent 40 years in the wilderness, which was even difficult. By the time we come to the book of Joshua, Caleb and the Israelites are in the Promised Land. They have taken possession of most of the Promised Land, yet there are some territories with the enemy. Listen to what Caleb says now:
Joshua 14:10-12 10“Now then, just as the Lord promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the wilderness. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! 11I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. 12Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.
Caleb was a courageous man. He had the courage to move on at every stage of life. How did the find the courage to move on even at an old age?
Illustration: World War II US tank commander General George S. Patton said, “Courage is fear holding on a minute longer.” If you give into your fears, you are on the path to defeat. Instead if you stand strong in spite of your fears, you are on the path to victory. Well we are not alone. We have God standing with us to give us the courage to move on.
Well I want to give you three things concerning Caleb that can help us have the courage to move on.
1. Faith to Forget the Past
When Caleb moved on in his life on the promises of God, he had the courage to forget whatever was behind him. Let’s turn to the book of Numbers where we first hear about Caleb. In Numbers we are told that Caleb was one of the 12 spies who was chosen to go into the land, look over it, and bring back a report. So they secretly spied the land, and all of the spies reported their findings. They all gave the same facts. They said that it was land that was flowing with milk and honey, the land was delightful place, the land was having good fruit and grain, and it was everything that God said it was.
You see, they did not need to spy out the land. They could have taken God’s word for it because when they got back the had no new information. They were even told by the Lord about the giants.
However, when they saw the interpretation of the facts, that is when the reports differed, there was a majority report and a minority report. The majority report said, “Let’s not go in, we can’t take the land.” True, humanly speaking they could not take the land.
Now, listen to what Caleb said. Caleb was outstanding because it was he who stepped forward at the beginning with a positive report. Numbers 13:30, 31 30Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” 31But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.”
Caleb was a man of faith. However, the people of Israel turned their thoughts back to Egypt. Numbers 14:4 And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”
The Israelites were not concerned about the slavery and brick making in Egypt. They thought the taskmaster’s lash on their back was not bad as they thought it was. As were all thinking about the past, Caleb had the faith to forget the past. He had the faith to turn back upon which was in the past.
See what Caleb said: Numbers 14:6-9 6Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes 7 and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. 8If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us.9Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.”
Caleb had turned his back on Egypt. He has turned his back on his past. The Lord said: Luke 9:62 No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.
We are to keep on going forward. Let me tell you, if God has lead you to a certain decision and you have started following along, you have come to a place where you are seeing giants and feeling timid about going ahead, don’t be discouraged. Have the faith to forget the past. Keep pressing on.
The Lord said to the invalid of 38 years old, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” The Lord told him to take up his bed because there is no turning back for this man, no relapse. There is only onward progress in the Christian walk. You and I need to forget the past, put it behind us.
Philippians 3:13 But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.
Memory is a wonderful thing. We have good memories. Maybe presently you are facing a challenge and you are thinking about your past. If you want success you will have to stop looking at your back. Stop worrying for what has happened. You can never drive a car if you look at the rear mirror. If you keep looking back you will never go straight. Sometimes it is good to forget.
Joke: An old man moved into a retirement community to spend the rest of his life. There was one lady he was especially attracted to, and she was attracted to him, also. So they spent a lot of time together. Finally one evening he proposed, asking her to marry him.
The next morning he woke up remembering his proposal, but he couldn’t remember her answer. So he went to her & said, “I’m really embarrassed. I proposed to you last night but I can’t remember if you said `Yes’ or `No.”’ “Oh, thank goodness!” she replied. “I remembered saying `Yes’ but I couldn’t remember who proposed me.”
Sometimes it is good to forget. We need to forget our past.
How to forget the past?
a. Forget past Success. You cannot depend on your past victories and glory to help you in your present condition. Some of us are relying on our past good times and past glory. Your future is not based on what God has done in your life; your future is based on what God is going to do in your life.
b. Forget past failure. Child of God, do not worry about your past failures, sins, and shortcomings. God is able to forgive you and is lending you a hand of hope. Do not allow your past failures to defeat you. Ex: Peter’s failure. Peter failed, but God used him mightily later.
The problem is God has forgiven us but we don’t forgive ourselves we hold on to the past. Do not worry of what has happened in your past. The truth is everybody has blown it at some point. Nothing you do will change your past. The past is past learn from it and let it go.
Caleb had courage to move on because he had faith to forget the past.
2. Faith to Face the Present
The second reason Caleb had the courage to move on was that he had the faith to face the facts of everyday life. Christian life finally comes to the practicality of everyday living. Friends, how you respond to every issue, circumstances and challenges in life determines your courage to move on.
Caleb’s Daily Challenges
a. A Tough Desert. He was walking for 40 years now. God’s presence was with them but it was not easy. They were attacked by snakes and scorpions. Thy did not have sufficient supply of water. The journey was long and tiresome. They were attacked by hostile communities. Remember Caleb survived 40 years in the wilderness. The entire generation died, but the wilderness and the sins of the people did not kill Caleb.
b. Negativity of the People. When the 10 spies came with a negative report see the attitude of Caleb. Numbers 13:30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” Numbers 1:46 says that some 603,550 men besides woman and children left Egypt. There were only 3 who were positive, Moses, Joshua, and Caleb.
c. Aging. When Caleb took up his last battle, he was 85 years old. Age did not deter Caleb. The Jews divided old age into three stages: 60-70 was commencement of old age; 70-80 was advanced age, overused or unoriginal; a man over 80 was well stricken in years. Caleb was 85. This is the time most of us will be using sticks to walk. He was aging but he kept his mind young. Caleb took care of his health, he was strong and fit.
d. A non-Hebrew Descent. Caleb and his brother Othniel are said to be “Kenizzites,” the grandsons of Easu. (Numbers 2:12, Joshua 14:6, Judges 3:9-11, Genesis 36:15). This suggests that Caleb was not originally a Jew but his grandparents joined with the Israelite community at some point. I am sure he had to prove himself to be selected as a spy and as the head of the tribe of Judah. It was not easy going for Caleb.
e. Personal Hindrances. Do you know that Caleb had to live with a bad name? The name Caleb means “dog.” His father Jephunneh seems to have a bitter sense of humor. Having heard that a son was born to him in Goshen, Egypt; he would have thought, “What is the use of a son? Sons are being attacked by Pharaoh. Even if he survives it is going to be a dog life as a slave here in Egypt.
In the ancient world, dogs are often mentioned in negative terms as lowly animals with little honour. But some texts in the Bible uses the term “dog” as a metaphor for humility and faithfulness (2 Kings 8:13). In this context the name meant “faithful servant.” Every day when people call him he had to face the reality of his name, but Caleb decided that if he was going to be called dog, he’d be the Lord’s dog.
Illustration: When I was a teenager I loved dogs. Once my neighbor had small puppies for sale and my mother who never liked dog said, “You can earn and buy the dog with your own money.” After a couple of weeks someone gifted me a beautiful dog. Now mummy could not say anything. There was something special about that dog. This dog would always wait for me near the gate. While my parents and brothers wait for me inside the house, the dog would be the first to receive me. Once I am home, the dog want to spend time with me. Every time I travel out, the dog would follow my Bajaj Chetak. Humor: The dog was very spiritual, most of the days the dog would accompany me to church.
A good dog knows his master. Caleb decided that he would follow the Lord wholeheartedly.
In the book of Deuteronomy Moses gives the review of Israel’s wilderness experiences after the Exodus versus a comparison statement concerning Caleb.
Deuteronomy 1:30-33 30The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, 31and in the wilderness. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.” 32In spite of this, you did not trust in the Lord your God, 33who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go.
Look at Caleb’s testimony of daily living:
Moses’ about Caleb: Joshua 14:9 So on that day Moses swore to me, “The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of our children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly.”
The testimony of Joshua about Caleb: Joshua 14:13-14 13Then Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave him Hebron as his inheritance. 14So Hebron has belonged to Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite ever since, because he followed the Lord, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly.
Caleb’s testimony about himself: Joshua 14:8 …but my brothers who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt with fear. I, however, followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly.
God’s testimony about Caleb: Deuteronomy 1:34-36 34When the Lord heard what you said, he was angry and solemnly swore: 35“No one from this evil generation shall see the good land I swore to give your ancestors, 36except Caleb son of Jephunneh. He will see it, and I will give him and his descendants the land he set his feet on, because he followed the Lord wholeheartedly.”
The Lord replied: Numbers 14:24 But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.
Caleb followed the Lord wholeheartedly every day in his life and God promised to take Caleb to the Promised Land. Are you discouraged today? God can give you the strength you need today.
3. Faith to Face the future.
Finally, Caleb had to courage to move on because he had the faith to face the future.
See the statement of Caleb here: Joshua 14:7 I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions.
Joshua 14:10-12 10“Now then, just as the Lord promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the wilderness. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! 11I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. 12Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.”
Now Caleb is old and he is in the Promised Land but some portion is yet to be won over. The Anakites were still in the land of Hebron. They were giants. The giants were living in the best place of the land, in the hill country called Hebron. Caleb picked the toughest enemy and the best land and said, “That is the place I want.” For 40 years Caleb was dreaming of taking over Hebron.
Hebron means communion. For 40 years the Israelites were murmuring, complaining and wanting to go back to Egypt, Caleb said, “I want Hebron. I want communion with God.”
The 40 years killed the rest of them but that did not kill Caleb. They grew old, but Caleb stayed young. The giants in the Promised Land made the Israelites look like grasshoppers but Caleb thought of God, 40 years he communed with God.
They are in the Promised Land and Caleb is dreaming of Hebron now. While the other Israelites are are satisfied with the little victories, Caleb wanted the hill country of Hebron.
Do you know that the toughest enemy to conquer is the fort on a hill. That is why Tippu Sultan had a fort in Nandi Hills. He could spot the enemy from any direction. Moreover, climbing a hill is a mammoth task. I had the privilege to see at least ten 85 year old people this week. Most of them have walking difficultly, need help climbing even one step. Look at Caleb. He knew God promised him and he was willing to take it up.
Paul said, “I am not living my Christian life aimlessly. I am having a purpose. There is a goal. I want to see Christ. I want to be like him. Christ is my prize.”
Caleb had faith for the future. He had the faith to say, “God I want you to give me my part of the land. I want Hebron.” Yes, but Caleb, the giants are there. Caleb would say, “I know it. I saw them 40 years ago. I have a chance now, so I am going to drive them out even though I am 85 years old now.”
The question is did Caleb take the land? Yes, of course. Joshua 15:14 From Hebron Caleb drove out the three Anakites—Sheshai, Ahiman and Talmai, the sons of Anak. Caleb drove them out. Hebron became his possession. God was greater than the giants.
Caleb had great decision in the walking years of his life.
He had great dedication in the working era of his life.
Caleb had great determination in the weaker days of his life. Caleb finished strong.
Friends it is one thing to be start good, but it is altogether different thing to keep your fire till you time.
Illustration: The Amazon river starts 112 km from the Pacific Ocean in the snow filled Andes of Peru. This river travels 6437 km through Bolivia, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and Brazil before emptying itself into the Atlantic Ocean. The origin of the river is very small a tiny drizzle while then draws water from 200 other streams. By the time it comes to Brazil it rushes with great force and the river refuses to die. The Amazon is 145 km wide before it could drop into the Atlantic and the currents of the force of the river can be seen 322 km into the sea.
This is Caleb’s life. This can be our life too if we have the courage to move on. Remember, courage to move on will come if we decide to follow the Lord wholeheartedly.
How to follow God wholeheartedly every day?
- Commitment to follow God, going even against the flow.
- Accept the sovereign choices of God.
- Eager to act upon God’s promises.
- Willing to tackle tough turf.
- A lifetime follower of God.
Philippians 3:13-14 13Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Conclusion: Friends, are you enjoying all the spiritual blessings that God has for you today? You say, “I have lots of troubles.” There are a lot of things you can complain about, but what about your hope in the Lord? Like Caleb commit to follow the Lord wholeheartedly.