How Long Can You Live?
“Let his flesh become fresher than in youth; let him return to the days of his youthful vigor.”—JOB 33:25.
WHEN a dog dies after living 10 or 20 years, it has probably done most of the things that dogs do. It may have raised puppies, chased cats, buried bones, and protected its master. But when a human dies after living 70 or 80 years, he has realized only a fraction of his potential. If he enjoyed sports, he likely excelled at only one or two of them. If he liked music, he probably mastered only one or two instruments. If he loved speaking to people in their own tongue, he may have become fluent in only two or three languages. He could have enjoyed so much more—meeting people, discovering new things, and drawing closer to God—if only he had lived longer.
You may wonder, ‘Why would God create man with a mind able to enjoy so much and then frustrate him with a life span that allows him to experience so little?’ Man’s short life span does not seem to fit into the pattern of purposeful design so evident in creation. You may also wonder, ‘Why would God make man with unique qualities such as justice and compassion and at the same time give him a tendency to act badly?’
If you see a fine car with an ugly dent, do you conclude that it is part of the design? Of course not! You no doubt reason, ‘This is not how the car was meant to be. It must have been well made, but afterward someone damaged it.’ Similarly, when we contemplate our awesome heritage of human life, we can only conclude that it is not now as it was meant to be. Our short life span and tendency to act badly are like tragic dents. Evidently someone wrecked mankind’s heritage. Who did it? Bible evidence points strongly to one culprit.
If the human race started out with the capacity for life without end, who could afterward have damaged the heritage of the entire human race? It could only have been the original ancestor of all humans, the one from whom we are all descended. Anyone else could only damage the genes of a mere section of mankind—that is, of his own descendants. God’s Word, the Bible, is thus in harmony with the observable facts when it says: “Through one man [Adam, the first human] sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men.” (Romans 5:12) So the Scriptures convict Adam of having wrecked our heritage. What was human life originally designed to be like?
Perceiving the Original Design
In saying that death “entered into the world,” the Bible suggests that mankind was not originally meant to experience death. For humans, old age and death are the result of the first man’s rebellion against God. Animals, on the other hand, were not meant to live forever.—Genesis 3:21; 4:4; 9:3, 4.
People were designed to be different from animals. We are a higher form of life than animals, just as angels are a higher form of life than humans. (Hebrews 2:7) Unlike animals, man was made “in God’s image.” (Genesis 1:27) Also in contrast with the animals, the Bible calls Adam a “son of God.” (Luke 3:38) We thus have sound reason to believe that man was not meant to grow old and die. God does not die, and neither did he create his sons to die.—Habakkuk 1:12; Romans 8:20, 21.
Further insight into God’s original design for human life is furnished by the historical records of the first generations of mankind. People back then lived for centuries before aging. Adam lived for 930 years. A few generations later, Noah’s son Shem lived just 600 years, and Noah’s grandson Arpachshad lived 438 years.a (Genesis 5:5; 11:10-13) Later, Abraham lived 175 years. (Genesis 25:7) The effects of sin on life span seem to have been progressive, causing life spans to shorten as mankind became further removed from the original perfect design. But initially man was made to live forever. It is, therefore, only natural to wonder, ‘Does God still want people to enjoy life without end on earth?’
A Release From Aging
Since Jehovah God had declared that anyone disobeying him would pay the price for his sin by dying, Adam’s descendants appeared to be in a hopeless situation. (Genesis 2:17) Nevertheless, the inspired Scriptures presented the hope that someone would pay for a release from the aging process. We read: “Let him off from going down into the pit! I have found a ransom! Let his flesh become fresher than in youth; let him return to the days of his youthful vigor.” (Job 33:24, 25; Isaiah 53:4, 12) The Bible here presented a wonderful prospect—that of someone paying a ransom to effect a release from the process of aging!
Who could pay this ransom? The price was more than money can buy. Referring to imperfect humans, the Bible says: “Not one of them can by any means redeem even a brother, nor give to God a ransom for him . . . that he should still live forever.” (Psalm 49:7-9) However, Jesus Christ had something of greater value than money. While on earth, he had perfect human life because as God’s Son, he was protected from inheriting the sin of Adam. Jesus said that he came “to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many.” On another occasion he said: “I have come that they might have life and might have it in abundance.”—Matthew 20:28; John 10:10.
The hope of endless life was a major theme of Jesus’ preaching. His faithful follower Peter once said to him: “You have sayings of everlasting life.” (John 6:68) What does the Bible mean when it speaks of everlasting life?
Life Without End
The apostles of Jesus looked forward to enjoying life without end in heaven as part of Jesus’ Kingdom government. (Luke 22:29; John 14:3) Nevertheless, Jesus often spoke about God’s purpose for the earth. (Matthew 5:5; 6:10; Luke 23:43) Therefore, Jesus’ miracles and his teachings about everlasting life confirm God’s promises made far in advance through the prophet Isaiah, who wrote: “He will actually swallow up death forever, and the Sovereign Lord Jehovah will certainly wipe the tears from all faces.” (Isaiah 25:8) No more will human life amount to merely a few fleeting years of youth followed by years of decline and decrepitude.
In God’s new world, when faithful humans reach perfection, they will enjoy freedom from the aging process. The Bible says: “The creation itself also will be set free from enslavement to corruption and have the glorious freedom of the children of God.” (Romans 8:21) Imagine! People will continue to grow in wisdom and experience. But as centuries pass, the physical vitality of their youth will never fade. Will you live to see that time?
How Long Will You Live?
According to Jesus, the earth will be drastically depopulated as a result of the day of God’s judgment. (Matthew 24:21, 22) Jesus said: “Broad and spacious is the road leading off into destruction, and many are the ones going in through it; whereas narrow is the gate and cramped the road leading off into life, and few are the ones finding it.”—Matthew 7:13, 14.
To be among those who will enjoy endless life, you need to seek God’s favor. Getting to know God is the starting point. Jesus explained: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God.” (John 17:3) Granted, it requires effort to know God well; yet, such effort is worthwhile. Similarly, it takes effort to earn money for food each day. Likening the knowledge of God to food, Jesus urged: “Work, not for the food that perishes, but for the food that remains for life everlasting.” (John 6:27) Is it not worth any effort you may make to gain life without end?—Matthew 16:26.
Jesus said: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) How long you will live, therefore, depends on how you respond to God’s love.
a Some assert that the years mentioned in this Bible account are really months. However, the text says that Arpachshad fathered Shelah at 35 years of age. If that is taken to mean 35 months, then Arpachshad was a father before turning three years of age—which is clearly impossible. In addition, the first chapters of Genesis distinguish solar cycles of years from lunar cycles of months.—Genesis 1:14-16; 7:11.
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After 80 years of life, a person has realized only a fraction of his potential
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By design humans are a higher form of life than animals
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Was this car originally designed with a dent?
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God’s Word says that humans will return ‘to the days of their youthful vigor’