Brethren Archive

Caleb and Anna

by W.T.P. Wolston

Notes of an Address on Joshua 14:6-14 and Luke 2:36-38

The histories of Caleb and Anna are not only very interesting portions of the Word, but they should stimulate us all and encourage young saints, for these aged pilgrims show the young how to carry themselves.

In Anna we get an exquisite example of earnest devotedness under difficult circumstances. We are told she was a widow of fourscore years. Caleb was fourscore and five, but his zeal and energy were unabated. Some people think that as we get older we must get colder; but not so Caleb. He seemed to get warmer. What was the secret? He “wholly followed the Lord.”

It was a remarkable thing for him to say of himself: “I wholly followed the Lord my God” (Josh. 14:8). But it was true. He had good ground for saying it. He said it because he had already heard the Lord say it about him. “My servant Caleb . . . hath followed Me fully” (Num. 14:24). Moses also twice said it of him, and Joshua said it too (Deut. 1:36; Josh. 14:9, 14). You are a good specimen of a saint if the Lord Himself and two of your brothers can say you are following wholly after the Lord.

For the secret of it, in Caleb’s case, let us look back to Numbers 11. The professing company of Israel said the manna was “nothing” (v. 6). They had got tired of Christ. The danger lies there, dear young brothers and sisters. Danger lies in wanting something more, or less, than Christ. We shall not wisely and well go through this scene unless we feed on Jesus in lowly grace and dependence on God, and make the loving study of His life on earth the food of our souls. This will give us character. We are all impressed by the thing we are occupied with. We must feed on Christ, the lowly, humble, gracious One, in all the vicissitudes of His life on earth.

No man had so little of the visible favour of God as to His circumstances down here, yet none was so restful, so peaceful as He. Let us feed first, then walk in His footsteps.

We read in Numbers 22 of the spying of the pleasant land. This was the beginning of much sorrow, for though Israel thereby got the knowledge how to go into it, they, alas, despised it. The twelve spies sent out were really sent in unbelief, and ten of them brought back an evil and false report.

Caleb was one of the men chosen for this service; but he is a marked contrast to the others, for he advocates “wholly” going on into the land. Can we do better than follow his example?

God loves to cheer His people and expects them to go right. Scripture is written far more for direction than for correction. Here the people had a double testimony, one false, the other true. It was Caleb and Joshua that gave the true report of that goodly land which prefigures the heavenlies in which our blessings are. If we have entered into heaven experimentally we shall always be able to give a good report of the land, and that will impress others.

There is something about Caleb that impresses you. His spirit was so good. The Lord talks about Caleb’s spirit. A man’s spirit is more important than his communications. Caleb’s was the spirit of a man set on answering to the call of God. “Let us go up at once, and possess it” was his verdict (Num. 13:30). Only two men out of the twelve gave a right report.

How far have you and I travelled into heavenly things, so as to be able to tell people about them and impress them with heaven’s joys?

In chapter 14 Caleb’s testimony is splendid, “It is an exceeding good land” (Num. 14:7). Deeply impressed, he repeats the good report of the land. “If the Lord delight in us, then He will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey” (v. 8). Let the breakdown be what it may, Caleb is for going on and for going in.

In our day what have we to do, fellow-Christian? We have the honour open to us of being Calebs and Joshuas, and of bringing to God’s people a good report of the land. Grapes of Eshcol will attract hungry and thirsty souls; minister Christ and you will thus attract them; He is the centre of heaven’s joys.

What filled Caleb’s heart with confidence was that he kept in the Lord’s presence and in His love. He believed in God’s purpose to bless His people, hence the spirit of Caleb is so beautiful. He had heard God’s word: “As truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord,” viz., I shall carry out My purposes, and in spite of the sin and failure of My people, the earth shall be filled with My glory (Num. 14:21). Then what a cheer must Caleb have received when he heard the Lord say, “My servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed Me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it” (v. 24).

All this came true. How carefully the Spirit of God marks the history of Caleb and Joshua. They were true and loyal to their calling. What a blessed thing to be marked by these characteristics. And see the result in Caleb’s case. In Numbers 34 the Lord names only those who, when they have got in, shall divide the land amongst their brethren. These are God’s words: “These are the names of the men which shall divide the land unto you. . . And ye shall take one prince of every tribe, to divide the land by inheritance . . . Of the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh” (vv. 17-19). God recollects his devotedness and makes him a prince. He shall have also the honour and reward of dividing the land.

Note also Moses’ words regarding him: “Caleb the son of Jephunneh shall see it, and to him will I give the land that he hath trodden upon, and to his children, because he hath wholly followed the Lord” (Deut. 10:36). When the spies went up, in chapter 13 of Numbers, they reached a certain spot called Hebron. There Abraham first worshipped (Gen. 13:18) and there David was crowned (2 Sam. 5:3). That sacred spot Joshua gave to Caleb “because he wholly followed the Lord God of Israel” (Josh. 14:13-14). What a blessed result of following wholly.

Was it conceit on Caleb’s part to say: “I wholly followed the Lord”? Not at all. His heart was right. God help you and me to as honestly say, “I surrender everything to Thee, blessed Lord.” “If any man serve Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall also My servant be: if any man serve Me, him will My Father honour” (John 12:26), is the Lord’s word.

“I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me” is a fine testimony from a man eighty-five years old. We too must stand for the truth. “Give me this mountain” was the claim of faith. The children of Anak were there, viz, tremendous difficulties existed, but faith regarded them not. “I want that place, give me Hebron,” says Caleb. He deserved it and he got it. He had put his foot there already and it became his. So with us; Do we desire more of Christ? You will have as much of Christ as you set yourself for. He will control you, fill you, delight you. Difficulties are then nothing.

Fully blessed himself, Caleb can now think of others. To his daughter he says, “What wouldest thou?” And then gave her “the upper springs, and the nether springs” (Josh. 15:19). We too are called to inherit a blessing and to be able to bless others (1 Pet. 3:9). The end of Caleb’s history reminds us of the Lord’s words: “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38).

Drawing from Him constantly, we can be Calebs in a day of apostasy.

Now one word as to our sister Anna in connection with Deuteronomy 33:24-25, “And of Asher he said, Let Asher be blessed with children; let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil. Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.” Anna was of the tribe of Asher. She was acceptable to her brethren, they listened to her gladly. Day and night she was before the Lord, serving Him with fastings and prayers, though so old.

When she learnt Christ had come, “she spake of Him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.” How did she know them? She was a true Asherite, and dipped her foot in oil; she walked in the Spirit; and constantly and steadily going on with the Lord, she found them all out, and then spake of Him in every corner of Jerusalem. God help each one of us to dip our foot in oil, then shall we understand fully the word, “As thy days, so shall thy strength be.” Oh, may God make us all Asherites and Calebs.


Our Calling 1910

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