I have had two people write to me and ask a very good question which shows you two are doing some good thinking. Or know your Bible well enough to know the right questions to ask. How is it that people lived beyond 120 years of age if 120 is the limit for mankind to live on earth?
Both of you picked out the following verse to challenge the idea I had put forward in last Nugget. Jacob replied, “I have travelled this earth for 130 hard years. But my life has been short compared to the lives of my ancestors.”Genesis 47:9
It is clear from this verse that Jacob lived more than 130 years unless this statement was made on his death bed, which it wasn’t. If you look down a little further in the chapter you will see that Jacob in fact lived until he was 147. That is considerably longer than 120. In the above verse Jacob gives us the hint that there were numbers of his ancestors who lived longer than 130 and certainly longer than 120. Moses only just made it to 120 – the limit of man on earth.
- Abraham lived to be 175 years old (Gen 25:7)
- Sarah lived to be 127 years old (Gen 23:1)
- Ishmael lived to be 137 years old (Gen 25:17)
- Isaac lived to be 180 years old (Gen 35:28)
- Levi lived to be 137 years old (Ex 6:16)
- Kohath lived to be 133 years old (Ex 6:18)
- Amram lived to be 137 years old (Ex 6:20)
- Aaron lived to be 123 years old (Num 33:39)
- Moses lived to be 120 years old (Deut 34:7)
- Jehoiada lived to be 130 years old (2 Chron 24:15)
When I wrote last week’s Nugget I expected I would receive howls of protest but it didn’t happen, only two responded with questions – Well how come . . . ? Indeed, what is going on here? Some have argued that it is only descendants of the patriarchs who lived beyond 120 years of age. The idea being that it is the privilege of certain people. I am not sure it’s a privilege.
I was told by a Deeper Bible participant in Jakarta when the class were celebrating my 63 birthday, “Pak Ian, you are only halfway through your ministry. You have many long years left Pak.”
I said, “I thought you liked me.”
He said, “We do Pak Ian.”
“Well, why would you want me to live this present life on earth until I was 126 years old. That doesn’t sound good.”
It sounds like a curse not a blessing. I am longing for the Life of Age to Come, not more of this life. Imagine how I would be moving at 126. Slowly and racked with pain. No thanks.
I did a search on the Internet to see if I could find a list of the oldest people in the world and found on Wikipedia a list of the verifiedoldest people. The list on Wikipedia runs to the top 100 oldest people in recent times. I have just given you the top ten below.
|8||Chiyo Miyako||2/5/1901||Still Living||117||Japan|
You will notice Chiyo Myako is still alive, still green. There are actually six people on the list who are still living. The other interesting thing about this list that struck me is the fact that you have to go down to the 16th person on the list before you find a male.
8 Chiyo Miyako 2 May 1901 Living 117 years, 33 days Japan
19 Giuseppina Projetto 30 May 1902 Living 116 years, 5 days Italy
31 Kane Tanaka 2 January 1903 Living 115 years, 153 days Japan
38 Maria Giuseppa Robucci 20 March 1903 Living 115 years, 76 days Italy
43 Shimoe Akiyama 19 May 1903 Living 115 years, 16 days Japan
97 Lucile Randon 11 February 1904 Living 114 years, 113 days France
I didn’t include the number of days these people lived in my list as I would have to update them. I will leave you to do that. But there is a woman in modern times who has lived past the magical 120 years. Just one – Jeanne Clament – has broken the limit of 120 years on the earth. Does that negate a limit that God set? Hardly! What is remarkable is that all others fall short of the 120 year limit. We and God it seems can tolerate an aberration.
But is it an aberration? Some argue that the Hebrew text should be read “My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for he also is flesh; yet his days shall be at least a hundred and twenty years.” I couldn’t agree with that reading of the text. It is not a natural way to interpret what is written in Genesis 6:3. It seems to be grasping at straws and what does it mean anyway? Does that mean all of us apart from Jeanne Clament have been sold short? No I don’t think that’s the answer.
There is a way of understanding the verse in Genesis 6 which sheds a different meaning on the words. That is to interpret the time setting as being ante-diluvian (pre-Flood) and take it to mean that it was 120 years before the flood would come. That Noah and his compatriots had 120 years left before disaster would strike. I am happy with either interpretation and am comfortable believing that Jeanne Clament has been the only one to crack the 120 barrier.
Do you think God wasn’t aware of gene cloning and stem cell research and missed the fact that humans would get so smart? Nah. Maybe we are heading to another time when God has to say, “Enough of this. The time for mankind on the earth has reached its limit.”
I can tell you with a promise, the next time won’t be because of a Flood.