Last week is the first time in the three-plus years I have been writing this column that I did not send one out.
Jackie, my mother-in-law, was in critical condition and family was being called in from different areas of the country. Jackie passed into eternity in the wee hours of Wednesday morning.
While all this was going on, The Lord sent an email my way. The email asked about what the Bible had to say about the human lifespan. Why do we live as long as we do? I was sitting in a room filled with family members, Jackie was in the hospital bed. Death would come within 24 hours, and we all knew it was close when my phone made its noise, and the email was there. I cannot explain why, but the email was incredibly refreshing. It gave a boost to my heart and spirit and prompted the subject of this week’s Preacher’s Point.
A particular’s person’s lifespan is unpredictable. In my family, I had a great-uncle pass the century mark, and my sister died at age 26. My paternal grandmother lived well into her 90s, but my paternal grandfather died in his early 50s; before I was born. According to Wikipedia, the average lifespan worldwide is 71 years.
Through the Bible, the average life expectancy has decreased to what it is today. Before Noah’s flood people lived nearly a millennia; the oldest recorded, Methuselah, lived 969 years.
The reason people lived hundreds of years before the flood is because they lived in a perfect ecosystem. A canopy of water surrounded the earth keeping out the harmful rays of the sun.
The world we know now is entirely different from the pre-flood world. The flood was more than just rain; water came up from beneath the ground as well as down from the sky (Genesis 7:11). The mountains sprouted, oceans formed, that winter close to the poles the flood waters froze. As the ice melted over the years, hills, riverbeds, and valleys took shape as the ice broke into pieces and traveled south.
I know there will be some that will read this that believe the flood and creation science (like the canopy of water around the earth) is poppycock, but Peter told us 2,000 years ago that some people “willingly are ignorant” of the flood and creation (2 Peter 3:5-7).
After the flood, lifespans decreased over time. The record of Noah’s descendants through his son Seth are listed in Genesis 11:10-32. Lifespans are immediately cut in half for those born after the flood, and after a handful of generations, things seems to settle in the 120-year range. Abraham 175, Isaac 180, Jacob 130, Joseph 110, Moses 120 are all examples of generations and how the ages declined after the flood. The flood changed the ecosystem. Therefore, lifespans decreased. It appears that Moses already started to see people living in the 70-80 year range we see today. Moses wrote, “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away” (Psalm 90:10).
God uses pictures to describe the brevity of life – a shadow (1 Chronicles 29:15), a weaver’s shuttle (Job 7:6; Isaiah 38:12), quick mail (Job 9:25), a handbreadth (Psalm 39:5), and a vanishing vapor (James 4:14). There are also several dozen other verses that speak of the shortness of life.
Compared to the eternity we enter when this life is over, even those that lived 900+ years lived a relatively short life. Everyone will live forever; it is only a question of where.
Sin brought about the fall of man and eventually Noah’s flood. Sin took God’s perfect creation and made it imperfect, but God already had a plan to fix it all. All of the creation painfully awaits Christ’s redemption (Romans 8:22-23). It is only through the shed blood of Christ can individuals, and even the planet be saved (Romans 5:8; Hebrews 9:22; John 3:16; John 14:6, Romans 8:22-23).
How long will you live? On this earth – not very long. How long will you live? For eternity in one place or another (Luke 16:22-23). It is your choice (John 3:18).