Caleb pleaded with the people: “The land we traveled through and explored is a wonderful land! If the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land. It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey. The Lord will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Him. And don’t be afraid of the people of the land. They are helpless prey to us! They have no protection because the Lord is with us. Don’t be afraid of them.” But the whole assembly began to talk about stoning them.
Later, the Lord said to Moses, “As surely as I live, not one of them will ever see the land I promised to their forefathers. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it. But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he explored, and his descendants will inherit it.”
[The above paragraphs are a paraphrase of a few translations (NIV, NLT, The Message) with a few comments thrown in as well.]
FORTY-FIVE YEARS LATER
Let’s fast forward forty-five years.
Under the leadership of Joshua, the people of Israel are now in the land of Canaan. They have won many battles and are ready to distribute the land to the twelve tribes of Israel.
6Now the men of Judah approached Joshua at Gilgal, and Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know that what the LORD said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me. 7I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And brought him back a report according to my convictions, 8but my brothers who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt with fear. I, however, followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly. 9So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly.’
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 desert. 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” (Joshua 14:6-14).
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.
Six times the Bible says that Caleb followed the Lord “wholeheartedly” (Numbers 14:24; 32:12; Deuteronomy 1:36; Joshua 14:8, 9, 14).
Caleb followed the Lord wholeheartedly because he trusted in the promises of God. When he was forty, he believed God’s promise to give Israel the land of Canaan. When he was eighty-five, he believed God’s promise to give him and his descendants Hebron.