The title of this post is in some ways an odd one because there was no Caleb generation, apart from Joshua and Caleb himself.
Of course Caleb did have a whole lot of contemporaries among the Israelites. But, apart from the probably much younger Joshua, they were very different people from Caleb. They grumbled and rebelled against Moses, and they were afraid to go into the Promised Land when God told them to, but presumed to try to go when God told them not to. Only Caleb and Joshua had the faith to go when God said “Go”, and to wait when he did not. As a result, God punished the entire generation, apart from those two, with early death.
And so, when the time came for the conquest of the land, Caleb, aged nearly 80 (see Joshua 14:7,10), was twenty years older than any of the other surviving Israelites, apart from Joshua. Yet Caleb was by no means ready to retire; five years into the conquest, at age 85, he could still say
I 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.
Joshua 14:11 (TNIV)
It seems that the God who had caused all the other Israelites to die by age 60 had miraculously preserved Caleb’s health and strength for 45 years.
So it was perhaps a little strange that at Soul Survivor, which I came home from just over a week ago, Mike Pilavachi preached about the Caleb generation, about how we should have faith like Caleb did. I wonder if he realised the incongruity I have pointed out. Maybe he did, and was thinking of himself, aged 49, as a Caleb among the 11,000 nearly all young people at the camp (and that was just one week of four), and even among his fellow leaders most of whom were at least twenty years younger than him.
In any case this thought was an encouragement to me, even older than Mike P. I went along to this youth camp with a small number of adults from my church, in addition to about 30 of our youth and their leaders. It was wonderful to see many of these young people responding to the touch of the Holy Spirit and the call of God on their lives – and to see something like a thousand of the whole group go forward to give their lives to Christ. And I found myself also responding to the Lord’s touch, as he continues to restore me to be fit to serve him when the right time comes – not before that time as the presumptuous Israelites tried to do.
I was sad to think that some of my own generation, those I served the Lord alongside when I was younger, had not continued in faithful service but had fallen away – although excited that some of them are now in full time ministry. At Soul Survivor I felt rather alone in my age group, as Caleb must have done. But I also believe that, although physically I am weak, I can count on God to make me, like Caleb, strong and vigorous for the battles he has ahead for me. In the words of one of my favourite songs from Soul Survivor, “Everlasting God” by Chris Tomlin, based on Isaiah 40:28-31:
Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord
Our God, You reign forever
Our hope, our Strong Deliverer
You are the everlasting God
The everlasting God
You do not faint
You won’t grow weary
You’re the defender of the weak
You comfort those in need
You lift us up on wings like eagles
With the help of the everlasting God I too can soar like an eagle. But first I need to wait upon the Lord until he lifts me up and gives me his strength.