On Facebook yesterday I discovered a group for the school I attended from 1968 to 1973, which seems a long time ago now. I found an old school photo of my year group, how they used to be, and current photos for some. When I left school, I ended up moving about 150 miles away, but one girl now lives in Zambia, just a little bit further. Here’s the rub. The people I attended school with are now old. Of course, I know that but it’s a shock when you see current photos and catch up on their lives. There was the girl who married one of her teachers and is now divorced. The girl who all the boys drooled over who is now a granny and farmer’s wife. The boy who was my best friend for a while and I wouldn’t have recognised him. Sadly one has passed away, maybe more.
The trouble with time is, it refuses to stand still. In the school photo, I see a group of 17-year-olds, all with huge ambitions, life ahead of them and so much to look forward to. In the individual photos, I see older people, 66-year-olds, with the majority of life now behind them. Hopefully, they still have good years ahead of them but they are not who they once were that’s for sure. Time seems to move quickly and we wonder what happened to the young boy/girl we once were. Time doesn’t move any quicker than it’s supposed to, but I do believe that the ageing process has speeded up, and I’ll tell you why. It’s the result of a compassionate and gracious God, not wanting to take our youth from us but wanting to protect us from the sin that dominates our lives.
If you look into the first book of the Bible, Genesis, you’ll see that people lived for hundreds of years. Adam was 930 when he died, his son Seth was 912 when he died, and here’s a fact for quizzers to remember. Methuselah, the oldest man in the Bible, died at the ripe old age of 969. With long life came the opportunity to achieve much, but not always for good. Sin was running riot over the earth and as man sinned more we read, “Then the LORD said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years.” (1) That’s a big change but it didn’t happen overnight. Noah lived to be 950 but Abraham in his day only made it to 175 and by the time of Moses average lifespan was 120. By the time the Psalms were written the human lifespan had changed again. “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures.” (2) This is an average of course, so some people will live past 80 while some won’t even see 70. That’s where we are today, with billions being spent to extend the lifespan that God has shortened.
I mentioned my belief that the ageing process has speeded up. I’m not a scientist and can’t give you any observable proof, but I look in the mirror, see myself at the age of 66 and wonder how I might look at the age of 966. Surely there can’t be that much bodily deterioration to go, so I consider Adam at 66 looking so much younger than I do. Maybe if Noah had a school photo he wouldn’t look so different then to the 66-year-old Noah.
Sin is the reason why man’s lifestyle has been drastically shortened. God is protecting us from ourselves to reduce the opportunities we have to sin against him. He does this because he hates sin and is wanting to save us from its impact and consequences. The Bible clearly states, “The one who sins is the one who will die.” (3) That’s not referring to physical death but spiritual death, a separation from God that will last for eternity and bring with it horrific consequences. God desires to save us from sin’s impact and shortening our lifespan was part of that, but it was never enough to deal with sin. We may live for much shorter periods now but we still sin excessively, so God had a perfect solution to deal with sin and free us from eternal death. That solution is his Son, Jesus, who voluntarily chose to die, bearing the punishment for our sins. He suffered so that we don’t have to, and we won’t suffer if we put our faith in him and accept that he died for us. If we reject him then we must face the punishment that our sins deserve, believe and the punishment goes to Jesus. This is God’s plan of salvation to give us eternal life.
- Genesis 6:3
- Psalm 90:10
- Ezekiel 18:20