One day, I was preparing a funeral sermon for one of our church members who lived close to one hundred years. This person lived a full life; never complaining and taking each day as a gift from the Lord. I was looking at a passage from the 90th
Psalm written by Moses where he says: "The length of our days is seventy years -- or eighty, if we have the strength." (Psalm 90:10). As I was typing this, I thought: Wait a minute! Moses lived one hundred and twenty years! Did he consider himself a superhuman? The book of Deuteronomy records that, "Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone." (Deut. 34:7)
In the exchange of information, I found out that one of my colleagues who is approaching 70 is battling prostate cancer. When I think of a person who has served the Lord with great courage and faithfulness, I always think of him. A college friend of mine had a brilliant career as an educator and as a seminary president, but died before reaching his 40th birthday.
I have heard in some sermons that if we would be as faithful as the patriarchs or the people of the Old Testament, we would live longer and happier lives. The guilt and blame sermons go in so many directions - we polluted the environment which shortens our lives; we have shorter lives because we do not have closer walks with God like the saints of old; we have been disobedient to our parents, and therefore, we live shorter lives!
I find that as I continue to get older, the more I treasure the verse that my Mother taught me when I was a kid: "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law." (Deut. 29:29) When it comes to longevity and well being, while in small ways it depends on us taking good care of our bodies and our genetics, our lifespan is a secret of the Lord.
The Bible has this to say about Abraham: "Abraham lived one hundred and seventy-five years. Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good age, an old man full of years and he was gathered to his people" (Genesis 25:8). Conversely Isaac, who for many is a prototype of Christ, was blind as he advanced in age and his sons took advantage of this by deceiving him in giving the blessing to the younger. (Genesis 27). When Jacob is presented to Pharaoh he says, "The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty. My years have been few and difficult, and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers." (Gen. 47:9) David became king when he was thirty years old and reigned over Judah for forty years, dying when he was 70 years old. Even though he was one of the most successful kings that Israel had and one of the few people who was called to be a man according to God's heart, in his last years David was suffering from a devastating cold and could not get himself warm. The innovative Jewish idea was that he should sleep with a maiden so that he will keep warm! (1 Kings 1:1-4)
How God determines the end of our lives is known only to him. To some he gives health and strength, and to some he gives problems, sickness, and weakness. I do not know if I will live like Moses and Abraham or like Isaac, Jacob, and David. Whatever the conclusion of my life here on earth I know that God will see me through and when I leave this earthly place I will go into God's presence, which Paul writes is better by far! (Phil. 1:23)