Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Longest Life

Today's passage:  Genesis 5
     This is why I love reading my Bible--I get something new every single day. Lately, I have started to read the same passage for several days in a row because Youngest has decided he likes getting up earlier with his brothers.  This has kind of put a strain on my devotion time.  Some mornings I can read a few verses but do not get to study them out before the barrage of demands from my three year old start.  This doesn't mean I don't make him wait a little bit, but if you have had little ones, you can understand that they are still learning that "no" and "not right now" are not merely suggestions.
     I am not much of a mathematician.  It was always my weakest subject in school.  I usually still maintained A's and B's (except for Algebra 2 when I could never get above a C--thanks to logarithms).  Still, I think I was pretty fortunate to be able to even achieve those grades.  If I were to take those higher math classes now, I actually think I would do a lot better, because I think I've said before, the reasoning and logic skills finally kicked in for me around 30.
     Chapter Five is filled with numbers (oh joy!).  It is astounding to think of the lifespans of this time.  Can you imagine how much history these folks witnessed?  Can you believe how many civilizations they saw rise and fall?  If I were born nearly 800 years ago, I might have feared Genghis Khan as he invaded China, respected King John signing the Magna Carta, heard about Marco Polo visiting China.  In the 1300's I might have survived the bubonic plague or read John Wycliffe's English translation of the Bible. The 1400's ushered in the age of a New World, the civilization of the Incas, and the martyrdom of Joan of Arc. Should I have been alive during the 1500's, I would have perhaps seen Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa being painted, been a participant in the German Reformation led by Martin Luther, or opposed Henry VIII and his many marriages.  The 1600's would have me reading Shakespeare, befriending Pocahontas, sailing on the Mayflower in search of religious freedom.  Merely another century later I would be in Boston's Harbor for the Tea Party, heard Paul Revere's cry, attended our first President's inauguration.  The 1800's would bring an early threat to our newly established republic in the War of 1812, the lie of evolution, and a Civil War.
The early 1900's established an Industrial Age and two World Wars.  Later in this same century I would shake my head at protesters, at New Age thinking, at being able to have a home computer that used to occupy whole rooms.  In a new millennium I would prepare for the Y2K scare, text and twitter, weep for those lost in terrorist attacks and mass shootings.  So much history in that amount of time and much more that I have not even mentioned.

     Here's the interesting thing.  Methuselah lived to be 969 years old.  His son Lamech was born when Methuselah was a young 187 year old whippersnapper .  He was 369 when his grandson Noah was born.  I imagine he was able to teach Noah a lot during those next 600 years.  Methuselah survived his son Lamech by five years.  Methuselah was alive the year of the Flood.  Did he die sometime before the Flood came?  I don't know.  The Bible doesn't even tell us how he died, but if you do the math, it is clear that he was living the year the Flood came.  Of course, the most natural thing to wonder is if he died in the Flood, because we know he was not on the Ark.  Or maybe God took him beforehand.  Maybe Methuselah counseled with Noah about the Ark, or maybe he was one of those who derided Noah for building such a foolish contraption.  It would be a very sad thing if Noah's own grandfather had opposed him in this venture.  I hope that is not how it happened.  I hope that maybe Methuselah died before having to see all that destruction.  I hope that he hadn't stubbornly turned his back on the Lord, refused to be saved in the Ark and suffered in the greatest calamity that God had ever allowed on the earth.  Methuselah lived longer than any other person in the Bible, but it begs the question that depending on how he died, whether his life might have been even longer, or if it was cut short because he had fallen away from the Creator God.  Methuselah had seen a lot in his long lifetime. I wonder if he saw rain fall for the first time or if he was delivered before the rains came.  His own father, Enoch, had followed God so closely, that God chose to take him to Heaven without seeing death.  Might this have affected a relatively young Methuselah (he would have been 300 years old-already a father, but not yet a grandfather)?  Might he have had a stronger faith knowing God had taken his father to Heaven, or a weaker one, blaming God for not allowing him to spend more time with his dad?  Did everyone understand what had happened to Enoch, or did they just think he had disappeared?   Somewhere along the way, Noah understood what God expected.  Perhaps he learned it by his great-grandfather Enoch's example, his grandfather Methuselah's influence, or his father Lamech's teachings, but Noah learned enough to please God, and apparently Noah's sons, now young adults, took up a Godly heritage as well since they took refuge on the Ark.
     I don't think it is an accident that God included all the ages of these men and women in the Bible.  He could have said straight out, "Methuselah died the year of the Great Flood", or "Methuselah died in the Great Flood".  Maybe it is just one of God's ways to get us thinking, wondering, anticipating our time with Him when we can ask those questions.  I'm glad I have some to ask.  If I'm not studying His Word, and there are many days when I'm not, I might not have any questions at all.

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