The years of our lives

A year is a God-given division of time. He made the heavenly lights to mark days, seasons, and years. So people — recognizing God’s sovereignty or not — make plans for a year, such as traveling, doing business, and making money, James 4.13.

As people age, it seems that “the years that lie ahead are few” Job 16.22. Even though we may reach the ripe old age of 80, “the years of our lives pass quickly, like a sigh” Psalm 90.9-10. But Solomon said it doesn’t matter if you lived a thousand years twice, death is still coming for you, Ecclesiastes 6.1-9. Maybe how you live, and what you live for, is what really matters, yes?

The Bible has a recipe for adding years to one’s life: wisdom, Proverbs 4.10; 9.11, and obedience to parents, Deuteronomy 5.16; Ephesians 6.1-3. Diet and exercise are good, but God’s plan for longevity is better. Remember that Hezekiah got 15 years added to his life, but it didn’t turn out so well for him, Isaiah 38.5.

Israel spent 40 years wandering and dying in the desert, after their fears turned them from facing the inhabitants of Canaan. It took 450 years to possess Canaan. They cried for 70 years in exile. They waited the 400 years of prophetic silence between the old and new covenants before the Messiah came.

Not much is known about Jesus’ years. He went up to the temple with his parents when he was 12 years old and gave them a fright by staying behind, Luke 2.42. He began his ministry when he was about 30, Luke 3.23. The exact length of his ministry and his age at his crucifixion are unknown.

In the New Testament, the years of people’s sicknesses or disabilities are sometimes mentioned, before being cured. Some were blind or crippled from birth. Sometimes their age is mentioned. In this way the miracles are demonstrated to be true works of power by the Spirit of God.

Years are sometimes mentioned in evangelistic works. “So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught a significant number of people” Acts 11.26. Paul stayed a year and a half in Corinth, because God had many people in the city to be converted, Acts 18.9-11. The apostle to the Gentiles taught in Ephesus in the school of Tyrannus for two years, Acts 19.8-10. He warned the Ephesian elders for three years about departures from the faith, Acts 20.31, possibly counting, as the Jews customarily did, part of a year as a full one. In Rome Paul lived “two whole years in his own rented quarters and welcomed all who came to him” Acts 28.30.

Paul remembered the profound spiritual experience of a “man in Christ” 14 years earlier, 2 Corinthians 12.2. Some events mark us for life.

A widow on the church’s support list has to be at least 60 years old, 1 Timothy 5.9. A church shouldn’t throw its money after just anyone or any need.

In contrast to man, God’s “years do not come to an end” Psalm 102.27. In his eternal eyes, “a thousand years are like yesterday that quickly passes, or like one of the divisions of the nighttime” Psalm 90.4; cf. 2 Peter 3.8ff. So we still watch for the coming of the Lord Jesus, that year-stopping event.

In the meantime, those who live for the Lord enjoy the blessings of his house. “You crown the year with your good blessings, and you leave abundance in your wake” Psalm 65.11. Who among the Lord’s people cannot say the same about the year just past?

The Lord sent his anointed, Jesus Christ, “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” Luke 4.16-19. That was a very good year. It is one we still enjoy and proclaim. It makes every year a good one.

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J. Randal Matheny

Servant of the Lord at GoSpeak
Randal and his wife have lived and worked in Brazil since 1984. They have three children, two daughters-in-law, and five grandchildren. Randal's a lefty, a chocolate lover, an author and a poet. His microblog is randal.us.

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