MAJOR questions Tackled by a MINOR is a weekly post by my pastor, Mark Minor. Please email me any questions you would like him to tackle (firstname.lastname@example.org)and I will pass them along for him to address in next week's post.
Why Did People Live So Long in the Old Testament? This Changes Everything: The Flood of Noah
I have been asked my thoughts on “why did people in the Old Testament times live hundreds of years ,or is that just a myth?”
It does seem kind of strange to read about Adam living 930 years or Methuselah dying at 969 (think about what that would do to Social Security!).
To answer this very important question, I must lay down a few ’principles’ or assumptions that I make concerning the Bible.
#1 I believe the Bible is correct and consistent. The numbers given in Genesis seem to be ‘exact’ and specific numbers, not approximates. To me, that lends credibility… when my son says “Dad, I caught a fish”, I ask ‘how big’? If he says ‘Oh, ‘about a foot’ that means he probably doesn’t really know— but if he say ‘13 and 1/2 inches’ then I’m pretty sure he really did catch a ‘big’ fish!.
Concerning the lengths of years— I don’t see that God changes the standards in the Bible… so for me, a year in the Old Testament is the same as a year in the New Testament is the same as a year today.
#2 I believe the Bible is accurate in everything it reports. Does it tell me everything that happened or how? NO! But the evidence, from archeology, sociology, paleontology, geology and any other ‘ology’ can be used to support the Bible. There are, of course, those who use ‘evidence’ to try to refute the Bible… and they have every right… but none of the evidence is ‘conclusive’, only ‘suggestive'. So we are left to our opinions. These are mine… they make sense to me.
The Bible is divided into roughly three 2000 year periods of time. The first 2000 years is the time from the creation of Adam to the Flood. The second 2000 years is the history of the people that God chose to birth the Messiah (Jesus) through—- the Hebrews or Jews. The third 2000 years could be called the ‘church age’. The years from the death of Jesus until today.
Some will certainly argue for a much longer period of human history. I would just simply point to the genealogy of Jesus found in Luke 3. It traces Jesus ancestry back from Mary (Jesus’ mom) to Adam… about 6000 years. The Flood of Noah changed everything.
Before the Flood (yes, I believe in a worldwide all-encompassing flood that killed the dinosaurs and all air-breathing life on the planet. Makes as much sense to me as those who say a meteorite landed in Mexico and killed the dinosaurs). Anyway, before the flood, life on this planet, according to the Bible, was much, much different. What were conditions like on earth before the Flood?
1. According to the Bible, the earth, before the Flood, is surrounded with a ‘canopy of vapor’ (think Ozone layer) that insulated the planet for the first 2000 years.
This layer of atmosphere, discussed in Genesis 1:6-8, sheltered the earth from dangerous and age causing radiation. It caused the entire planet to be a greenhouse, allowing plant & animal life everywhere— even at the ‘poles’ where today we find oil in abundance. Billions of barrels of ‘fossil’ fuels that could only have come from plants and animals living where the ice caps now exist. (This layer of atmosphere is also the ‘water’ that eventually rained down on the earth and ‘caused’ the Flood.)
2. It seems from the Bible that there were no ‘seasons before the Flood.
Life existed in an oxygen rich atmosphere, with a constant temperature, no icecaps, very few diseases. It could even have been an era when man was vegetarian and animals lived in a unique harmony with mankind (see Genesis 9:1-3).
3.Because of this protective layer of ‘atmosphere’ surrounding the earth like a greenhouse, the radiation that causes us to age and die was much diminished.
Both animals and mankind aged much more slowly. This is also the reason Carbon 14 dating doesn’t work well. It assumes that the radiation level of planet earth has been consistent forever. The Bible shows me that the radiation levels of earth are much greater now (after the Flood) than the first 2000 years.
Some get ’bored’ by reading the genealogies of the Bible. I find them fascinating. And faith-inspiring.
Noah, according to the Bible, lived to be 950 years old. His sons made it about 500 years. His grandson (Shelah) died about 400 years old. His great grandsons (Peleg) died about 200 years old. By the time we get to Abraham— just a couple centuries after the Flood, Abe is considered an old man at 75 and his wife Sarah at 65 years old.
And when we read Moses (Psalm 91 written about 1500 BC), he tells us that it is allotted to man ‘three score and ten’ (70 years).
My point: The Flood changed everything… including how long a man could live. The average lifespan of men went from almost 1000 years to less than 100 years in just a few generations. The reason people don’t live 1000 years anymore: it’s the Flood of Noah.