Most of us wouldn’t mind to grow old if we could remain healthy, but ‘old’ usually means frail and infirm. Yet in the Bible, Moses, the writer of Genesis, says Adam became 930 years old. Methuselah reached ‘the ripe old age’ of 969 years. That was quite an accomplishment. They probably had huge funerals when they died, with impressive amounts of descendants.
Yet why should we believe such nonsense? How can people become that old? Today if someone reaches 100, we think it is remarkable. Most of us will be happy if we reach 70 or 80. The question is, can we believe what the Bible tells us?
In those passages about the patriarchs, we see that their ages declined. After the flood, Noah lived 950 years. Abraham died at 175 1 and his son Isaac at 180.2 Moses died when he was 120 years old3 and king David at the age of 70.4 Why did that happen?
Creation was perfect in the beginning. After Adam failed to be obedient to God, in the garden of Eden, God cursed creation.5 It started to degenerate. That also happened to the perfect human beings, beginning with Adam and Eve. Their descendants began accumulating mutations. They are changes in the genetic makeup that effect fitness.6
So God began with perfection. Adam was probably the hunk of all hunks, but mutations slowly began to ‘eat’ away at longevity in his descendants. Why did God do it like that? It is logical. God is going to renew the whole creation when everything is run down, old and dilapidated. We also renew old, dilapidated things, not spanking new ones.
We see it very vividly in the declining genome. Generation after generation the mutation load is increasing. With it longevity slowly deteriorates. This is also fortunate, because who wants to live for hundreds of years in a sin filled world with many troubles? The day will come when the creation has deteriorated to such an extent that God will renew it.
What can we expect in the new age? For one, we will get new bodies. That is the beauty of Jesus’ resurrection. He was the first to be resurrected out of death, and because of it, we can be confident we will also be raised from death. Then we will be ‘issued’ with a spanking new body that will never decay. Our new bodies will be completely different. They will never again become old, ill or die. We will live for ever with Jesus (for those who chose to side with Him on this side of the grave), or without Him (for those who didn’t like His face on this side of the grave).
Conclusion: People often think that the Bible is a book of fairy tales, only to find, with closer investigation, that it is logical and reasonable. It has answers to what seemslike fairy tales.
- Genesis 25:7
- Genesis 35:28
- Deuteronomy 34:7
- 2 Samuel 5:4
- Genesis 3:14-19
- JC Stanford, Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome, FMS Publications, 2008, p 155.