“Live long and prosper…” ~ Spock (Star Trek character played by Leonard Nimoy)
“And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.” ~ Genesis 6:3
This is a very interesting verse. And it seems to be self-explanatory. Of course, you know since I used the word ‘seems' that things may not be as they appear. Let's see if that's the case…
At this point on the world stage, God turned His face because of the sins of man. After the fall man's evil ways increased. Man did what he wanted with no regard for God's will or desire. Neither did he regard His love.
“And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” ~ Genesis 6:5-6
A man even went about taking more than one wife! Now I know you thought this was fine because this was a trend in the Old Testament. Think back to creation. God created male and female of both man and beast. How many did he create for each? Just one, for most of them anyway. Some animals took more than one mate to multiply. They are prey and food animals as well as predator animals to keep certain prey in check.
This was God's plan. Each was to have one mate at any given time. Man especially. God did not mean for a man to take many wives. This caused disorder and perversion. This was the case when men in scripture took more than one wife. Can you see this in the context?
So then God went about planning a reset… on a planetary scale! He would reset the earth by covering it with water, just like in the beginning. Remember how the earth began? Also, note that not only was mankind the target…
“And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.” ~ Genesis 6:7
The only thing spared were the sea creatures. Water was their element! The thing is, He loved mankind. He wanted only the best for us despite ourselves. I believe it pained God to end mankind. I mean, this was the offspring of His created son Adam! So He found a man to continue His ultimate plan. His name was Noah. But Noah was already five hundred years old or so when God announced all this. So let's fast forward and take a look at Noah's descendants.
Shem lived at least six hundred years. If we do the math, we do figure that Shem was around ninety-nine when the flood came. Nahor, son of Serug lived at least one hundred forty-eight years. Yes, the age of man is decreasing! But look at his son Terah. He was two hundred and five when he died! So if God intended to shorten man's live span, how did Terah live longer than his father?
- Sarah was one hundred twenty-seven.
- Abraham was one hundred seventy-five.
- Moses was one hundred twenty.
As you can see, life spans were not limited in any way except by man's own devices. In fact, there are people still living longer than one hundred twenty years today!
The oldest authenticated human is Jeanne Louise Calment. She was 122 years when she died. Jeanne died at a nursing home in southern France in 1997.
So what did the one hundred twenty years in Genesis 6 stand for? Look at Noah's age when God spoke to him about the flood, and when the flood finally arrived.
“And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth.” ~ Genesis 5:32
“And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth.” ~ Genesis 7:6
It is my belief that God spoke to Noah in the years before he and his wife had children. This is where the other twenty years come from. While the bible does not mention every age, this is close enough. You can see in the context below that God gave mankind one hundred twenty years of grace while Noah built the ark.
“Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.” ~ 1 Peter 3:20
So the answer to the question? If Jeanne can live almost one hundred twenty-three years, so can anyone!