How did you celebrate your last birthday? Maybe it was one of those “milestone” birthdays, like 18 or 30 or 60. Some might suggest that 21 is a milestone birthday, but I know that no one reading this would dare do something on their 21st birthday that was illegal for them prior to that date – just sayin! I have learned that the older I get the less excited I get about birthdays.
I must admit, there is one man who knows how to celebrate a birthday. You may remember back in June of 2009, President George H.W. Bush celebrated his 85th trip around the sun by jumping out of a plane in the skies of Maine. He celebrated his 75th birthday in a similar fashion. While I can honestly say that I have no desire to ever jump out of a perfectly good airplane, I have to give Bush 41 credit for not allowing his age to slow him down. I can only hope that if I am blessed with the 85 years that I will have the same type of attitude that President Bush has.
As the population of our country ages, we would do well to consider how the Bible speaks about old age. We are of course reminded of passages like Proverbs 16:31, “Gray hair is a glorious crown; it is found in the way of righteousness.” I love Psalm 71:18, “Even when I am old and gray, God, do not abandon me. Then I will proclaim Your power to another generation, Your strength to all who are to come.” More wisdom can be found in Job 12:12 – “Wisdom is found with the elderly, and understanding comes with long life.” Bottom line, there is something to be said about the wisdom that old age affords – and clearly the Bible teaches this.
While there are plenty of people in the Bible who definitely qualify as old – Adam was still changing diapers at the ripe old age of 130! Hidden in Joshua 14, we are reunited with an old friend. Caleb has been silent through the book of Joshua. If you recall, Caleb and Joshua were the two faithful spies in Numbers 13 who tried to convince the nation to be obedient to the Lord. The nation chose otherwise and faced God’s judgment of death in the wilderness. Only Caleb and Joshua were spared from the judgment of God. And here we are, in the middle of what most consider a fairly boring section of text, Caleb appears. He’s not the youthful spy who first laid eyes on the land flowing with milk and honey. Now he is an 85-year-old man. By today’s standards, he has had a rich, abundant life. But what I love about Caleb is that he’s not finished yet.
In no uncertain terms, he asks Joshua for a piece of real estate for his family. But this is no ordinary piece of property. It still has the Anakim as its inhabitants. The Anakim are the big fellas – the giants – that put so much fear in the nation back in Numbers 13. Caleb doesn’t care. He simply says in Joshua 14:12, “Perhaps the LORD will be with me and I will drive them out as the LORD promised.” What an example for all of us – young and old! Caleb reminds us that faithfulness doesn’t diminish with age. If anything, as our years pile up, our willingness to do whatever the Lord commands should only become more resolute.