SPIRITUALITY SCIENCE – THE PROMISE OF GOOD OLD AGE:
The concept of Life-Span implies that there is an Individual whose existence has a definite beginning and end. The human body develops from a Single, fertilized Egg Cell called Zygote which is produced by the union of a male sex cell called sperm and a female sex cell called egg. Human life includes clearly distinguishable stages such as infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and old age. From the instant called conception, human organism grows and develops continuously to enter adulthood at age 20. At about the age of 25, the progressive developmental changes are completed. While there are individualistic variations in the aging process, most human beings can be identified to be living in a condition called old age by the time they attain the age of 80-years. The exact duration of human life is unknown. Guinness World Records has verified the age claims of old, living persons in the world and the highest authenticated human age is 122 years.
There could be a maximum life-span for the human race that is established in the human genome. To account for human longevity, it could be important to study all the human records. In that exploration of written human records of human longevity, I have studied Bible, particularly The Old Testament Book of GENESIS which is recognized as The First Book of Moses. Bible derives information concerning the inheritance of longevity from the study of the genealogical records of Hebrew people such as Adam, Noah, and Abraham. In my view, the statements concerning the age at death of Hebrew people cannot be dismissed as religious fiction.
THE BIBLICAL RECORD OF HUMAN LIFE-SPAN:
There is no evidence to suggest that the span of human life has increased since the beginning of recorded history. Advances in Medical Science and the understanding of the principles of nutrition, sanitation, environmental hygiene, and disease prevention have contributed to a remarkable increase in the life expectancy of the general population. However, there is no valid reason to make a similar claim about human life-span. On the contrary, the Hebrew record of human longevity depicts a sudden, and dramatic drop in the expected span of human life.
The Biblical Record of man’s creation and his mortality reveal that the LORD God Creator played a crucial, and decisive role to change the length of the human life-span while external factors like food, and environment could easily tilt the balance in the direction of long-lasting life or premature death. I would like to briefly go over a few details about the recorded life histories of Adam, Noah, and Abraham who was originally known as Abram. Genesis, Chapter 5 claims that Adam at the age of 130 years, had a son named Seth. Adam lived for another 800 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Adam lived 930 years and then he died(Genesis 5:5).
Methuselah(grandfather of Noah) lived 969 years and then died(Genesis 5:27). It is an interesting fact for he had lived longer than Adam who was created by God, and longer than Noah with whom God made His Covenant to defend all Life that lives on planet Earth(Genesis 9:17). The father of Noah, Lamech altogether lived 777 years(Genesis 5:31). After Noah was 500 years old, he became the father of Shem, Ham, and Japheth. However, the LORD God Creator makes a very dramatic decision and said, “My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal, his days will be a hundred and twenty years.”(Genesis 6:3) It appears that God had expelled Adam from the Garden of Eden and had condemned Adam to lead a mortal existence. But, at that time, God made no decision about human life-span. During the lifetime of Noah, God had announced a predetermined human life-span and had fixed it as 120 years. Noah was six hundred years old when the “FLOOD” waters came on Earth(Genesis 7:6). Noah survived the “FLOOD” and God made a Covenant with Noah and it extends to all life on the Earth. Yet the same time, God makes no concession, and made no promise to extend the life-span which He decided to fix at 120 years. In this account of Hebrew life histories, the author was not making any attempt to increase or decrease the life-spans of the Biblical characters to show any individualistic preferences. The Book of Genesis traces the genealogy of Abraham(originally called Abram) after the death of Noah at the age of 950 years. The reproductive vigor continued to survive the aging process and Terah after living for 70 years, became the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran(Genesis 11:26). And Terah, (father of Abram) lived 205 years and died(Genesis 11:32) and the Book of Genesis offers no further explanation for the shortened life-span of Terah. But, the life history of Terah is highly relevant for he had lived longer than Abraham with whom God made a Covenant and told him, “You, however will go to your fathers in peace, and be buried at a good old age.”(Genesis 15:15)
THE PROMISE OF GOOD OLD AGE:
The relationship between age and longevity becomes very vivid in the life history of Abraham. He was fully aware of his old age and knew that he was childless and it could be impossible to have his own offspring with his wife Sarah while both of them had already experienced the effects of old age. Abraham had a son named Ishmael through his wife’s maid-servant and was ninety-nine years old when he got circumcised. Eventually, Abraham’s wife Sarah became pregnant and bore a son who was named Isaac. After Sarah’s death, Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah(Genesis 25:1). Around the same time, Abraham’s son Isaac had already reached the age of reproductive maturity and married Rebekah at the age of 40. Abraham had several children with his second wife and it clearly demonstrates the fact of being in good health in his old age. Altogether, Abraham lived a hundred and seventy-five years. Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years, and he was gathered to his people(Genesis 25:7-8).
The life history of Isaac is very interesting for he died at 180 years of age, 5 years longer as compared to his father Abraham. But, Isaac was not given the Promise of Good Old Age. The aging process gave him plenty of misery and he became blind and lost the ability to make the distinction between his two sons, the first-born Esau and the younger son Jacob.
It is important to note that the aging process had consequences and had adverse impacts on the lives of Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. The Book of Genesis, Chapter 47, verse # 9 reflects the sense of disappointment felt by Jacob about his life-span; “The Joseph brought his father Jacob in before Pharaoh. After Jacob blessed Pharaoh, Pharaoh asked him, ‘How old are you?’ And Jacob said to Pharaoh, ‘The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty. My years have been few and difficult, and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers.” It is the most impressive, and truthful statement about the experience of the aging process that I read in the Book of Genesis.
THE BIBLICAL THEORY ON AGING:
In the Book of Genesis, God created Adam as an adult and had blessed him and Eve to be fruitful and multiply. From that time, God instituted the universal Principle of Generation in which human reproduction is achieved by the union of an egg cell and sperm cell. From the moment called conception, the human organism uses an aging process to grow and to develop into a human being. If God had not driven Adam and Eve out of The Garden of Eden, they would still be living on Earth for they would have surely eaten from “The Tree of Life.” To ensure man’s mortality, Adam was permanently banished from The Garden of Eden and yet he lived a long life. The aging process may eventually lead to death, but God had apparently changed His mind; and this change was proclaimed in Genesis, Chapter 6, verse#3 which I have already mentioned. It appears that God made a decision to limit the human life-span without exclusively depending upon the aging process which undermines man’s ability to live a long, fruitful life. Apart from the reduced longevity, the Promise of Good Old Age given to Abraham was not extended to his offspring. Jesus who is a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, lived His mortal existence for a very short period and died before reaching old age. However, Jesus may not have escaped the natural aging phenomenon after His Resurrection. This interpretation is supported by The New Testament Book of REVELATION, Chapter 1, verse #14 in which Jesus Christ is portrayed with the characteristic gray hair of old age; “His head and hair were white like wool as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.” Jesus Christ took a human birth and may be experiencing an aging process even after the fact of his Resurrection after death. However, the aging process cannot undermine the Longevity of Jesus Christ for God has promised man an everlasting life through belief in Christ.