General Joshua had a problem. His drive to conquer the land west of the Jordan had stalled at Hebron, the stronghold of the Anakim—the ancient race of giants (Rephaim) who served as mercenaries in the Ancient Near East (Joshua 14). No army could defeat these descendants of the great warrior of Anak (Deuteronomy 9:2). So tall and formidable were these soldiers, that their name and reputation injected panic and flight into the ranks of their enemies.
Joshua’s troops were all in the prime of life, the new generation of Israelites born during the forty years of wandering in the wilderness. All of them, officers and men alike, stood cowering at the base of “Hill Hebron,” staring up at the walled fortifications manned by men twice their size. Each man wished he possessed the courage to take the hill. But these were the giants their fathers had told them about.
Then an old guy stepped forward, saluted his old friend Joshua, and shouted his bold appeal: “Sir, request permission to take this mountain. I may be eighty-five, but you and I were there when the Lord God of Israel promised this land to us. If it pleases the General, I would be honored to lead these fine young men into battle. And who knows . . . it may be that I will be able to drive them out as the Lord has said.”
It was Caleb, the same guy who had argued with their fathers forty-five years ago at Kadesh-Barnea. They had heard about Caleb. Some said he was nuts, a weirdo. “If we had listened to him, we would have died for sure fighting those giants.” But every young man poised at the foot of that mountain had the same thought: “Better to die like a man of faith battling giants in the name of the Living God, than to drop dead in the desert like our fathers. Caleb’s right, we’re through living in fear!”
That’s what old guys, mature men of faith and vision, do for young men–they lead from the front, living lives of documented courage and seasoned confidence.
Their message? “Charge up the hill; God is with you. And who knows? He just may give you victory!”
It’s this very dynamic of an old guy and young guy that the Bible calls discipleship. Oh, it might be rare these days, but only because we’ve ignored His highest priority to make disciples. Trust me, it’s one of the most exciting dynamics of the Christian life—I’ve been both the young guy and the old guy (less the former and more the latter these days!)
Just last week I spent two of the most encouraging hours in recent memory with a young man from Church of the Open Door who had moved to Bend, Oregon a few years ago. He came to us as an unbeliever, stayed a few years, and God moved him on. What encouraged me was the impact of the men who had spent time with him to encourage Him in the way of Christ. He left Southern California with a passion to reach his family and culture in Oregon.
So if you’re a young person, ask God to send you a Caleb.
If you’re a more mature Christian, ask God to make you a Caleb.
And be ready for battle because there are still plenty of mountains to charge and giants left to fight.
“Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke that day…. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said” (Joshua 14:12).