This is the book of the generations of Adam. When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. 2 Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created. 3 When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth. 4 The days of Adam after he fathered Seth were 800 years; and he had other sons and daughters. 5 Thus all the days that Adam lived were 930 years, and he died. – Genesis 5:1-5
How many days are there between birthdays? If you’re not going 6 years old, you’re sure it’s at least 1000 days. If you’re 60, you know it can’t be more than 100, and if you’re nearing 70, you don’t necessarily want to think about it. But who’s counting?
God is. Apparently. Genesis 5 recounts the long years of life that our first parents logged – each registering several hundred years – before the refrain, “…and he died.” God inspired Moses to record the number of years each of these First Parents logged prior to their death. Whether a record was taken at that time and handed down to Moses, or God simply revealed it to him, we have the record of extraordinarily long lives in those antediluvial days.
Whether it was because of the hyperbolic nature of the atmosphere or the primitive and soon to be ever-growing intrusion of sin’s consequences upon the world and everyone and everything in it: these are remarkably-long lifespans. Some suggest that these number of years are symbolic. Others suggest they are based on a different number of days in a year or even a different counting base. All of which would make these extraordinary number of days seem quite so impossible. I am pleased to take them at face value.
Two things are clear, however you might understand these long lifespans. One is that our days are numbered – no matter how long a year is, or how long our lives may be. The other is that these long life-spans will have soon become a thing of the past. Genesis 6:3 makes that clear: “Then the Lord said, ‘My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.’”
However we determine to understand these ages and lifespans, one thing remains for us to do: “Teach us to number our days that we may attain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).
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