How Long Have You Got?

The Galapagos land tortoise can live, under optimal conditions, up to193 years, the bowhead whale, up to 200. The hardy carp can reach 100. Then, some lowly bugs and insects count their lifespans in days.

Man was meant to be eternal. After the Fall, his lifespan began falling, from what the biblical record tells us. Methusalah made it the furtherest, but it was all downhill from there. So much that Moses tells us the average is 70, at most 80 (Psalm 90:10), this from a man who reached 120.

Today, Japan has the longest life expectancy at 82.6 years. But in much of the world, people live, on average, 39-40 years. In the U.S., it’s 78; in Brazil, 72.

Man has always searched for the fountain of youth. Prolonging one’s time on earth is considered a boon, and even Scripture provides motivation for it (see, for example, Deuteronomy 6:2; Proverbs 10:27).

We often think of eternal life in terms of quantity, although Scripture defines it as knowing God and his Son (John 17:3). Hell will also be eternal (Matthew 25:46), so it’s not merely the eternality but the nature of that life that makes the difference.

Hezekiah discovered that adding years to your life wasn’t necessarily a blessing. In the extra time he’d been granted, he lost the kingdom for his descendants.

So what can we conclude from a life expectancy of 70 to 80 years?

  • Life expectancies are averages. Nobody’s guaranteed any time at all.
  • Porn publisher Hugh Hefner has beat the odds, but that doesn’t mean he’s had a good life. A man’s life does not consist in number of years he’s able to live.
  • Planning for the future is good, but planning for eternity is better.
  • Christians live best in the present because they live in the knowledge of the brevity of life.

“Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom” (Psalm 90:12, NLT).

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