When God makes you wait in the wilderness. . .

Sinai WildernessCaleb was 85 years old when Israel entered the Promised Land. He was promised this opportunity back in the early days of the Exodus as we read in Numbers 14:24:

“But My servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it.

When he was 40 years old, Caleb was one of twelve spies that went into the Promised Land to bring back a report to Moses. Of the twelve, only Joshua and Caleb gave a favorable report. They were in favor of taking on the giants in the land but they stood two against ten. The report of the ten caused the people to respond in fear and rebellion. The people cried out to Moses saying that they would have been better off staying in Egypt. Their fear overruled their faith and they panicked.

This revolt against God was punished by 40 years of wondering in the wilderness where all the men of Caleb’s generation died with the exception of Joshua, the other spy who gave a good report.

While he was waiting 45 years for his inheritance, do you suppose Caleb had moments when he wanted to rant against the people and their hard headed stupidity? Do you think that there were times when he was frustrated with God for making him wait? It would be easy to become bitter while trudging through the wilderness with the people that caused the delay.

Yet, when we see them finally enter the Promised Land, I do not get a sense of any self-pity or bitterness from Caleb. Read what Caleb said to Joshua about his inheritance in Joshua 14:10–12:

10 And now, 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, while Israel walked in the wilderness. And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. 11 I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming. 12 So now give me this hill country of which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there, with great fortified cities. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the Lord said.”

Instead of self-pity or bitterness, I get the sense that Caleb spent his time in anticipation and preparation for his eventual inheritance. He kept himself sharp, in shape and ready to conquer. He knew what he would be up against when the time came and he came prepared.

Things don’t always go as planned. Sometimes an expected blessing takes a long time to materialize. I am encouraged by the example of Caleb in that he appears to have used his waiting time wisely. When the opportunity finally came, he was ready to capitalize on it.

It appears that he stayed focused on the God who made the promise and not his circumstances. May we do the same when faced with difficulty!