In American culture, we are told that a lady never tells her age. That is her secret and while we may get a birthdate (day and month), we should never ask the year. Lately, I find that men do not like to tell their exact age either. Instead, they talk about being in their thirties or sixties or eighties. It seems that, as life expands, we become more careful to not tell anyone our age.
Conversely, biblical chronologies and genealogies introduce age in some interesting ways. The Old Testament introduces people by recording the time of their birth, the time when their children were born, and when they died. When Lamech was 182, his son Noah was born. When Noah was 500 years old, his sons were born. After the flood, Noah lived for 350 more years and then he died.
There are times in the Bible when people bargain with God for an extension of their lives; some of these attempts are more successful than others. King Hezekiah prayed for an extension of his life and received ten more years. Moses pleaded with God to extend his life so that he could enter the promised land of Canaan, but God did not grant him that request.
The timing of God’s call of His prophets varies throughout Scripture. God called Samuel when he was a child and Daniel and Jeremiah when they were teenagers. Their work as prophets did not necessarily ensure a peaceful end for them: Daniel died of old age in the land of Babylon and received the first promise of resurrection, while Jeremiah was dragged away to Egypt and died far from the country that he loved.
When it comes to the apostles, we know very little about their ages. We only know that John was the youngest of the twelve. We are better informed about the age of Jesus Christ. We are told that he was born in a period that was very well-known in the regional and international scenes. We know that he was twelve years old when he went to the temple which, according to the tradition of his day, was the age when he became a man in the synagogue. We are also told that he was about 30 when he started his ministry. Since his ministry lasted three years, some commentators argue that he went back to heaven in his thirties. Because of this idea about Christ’s ascension, some people have speculated that we will spend our years of eternity in heaven at the perpetual age of 30.
Within the Scriptures, we find different approaches to the end of life. In the Old Testament, Jacob came before Pharaoh and told him that he was approaching the end of his life, a life that was filled with difficulties and pain. Apostle Paul, on the other hand, wrote that he was eager to leave this earth for being in the presence of Jesus was better by far.
When you talk about your age, how do you feel? Do you seek to hide your age? Do you feel that you have accomplished what you intended to accomplish? Are your shoulders burdened by the passing years or do you live in constant preparedness because you will be eternally joined with Christ if your life ends today?