Keys to Long-Life

Chapter 5 - The Bible Definition of Long-Life.

Now what is LONG LIFE according to the Bible? 

What can we believe for? What is the proper (full)number of (our) days allotted to us? How long is full age? Many Christians believe the Bible tells us that it is 70 or 80 years and so are not expecting to live any longer, and so when they reach 60 they are already winding down. 

The scripture they base this on is Psalm 90:10: "The days of our years are 70 years; and if by reason of strength they are 80 years." However on closer study we will see that this is by no means the general maximum life-span for believers. 

The Psalm was written by Moses. Its heading is: “A Prayer of Moses the man of God” (v1). It describes the condition of Israel wandering in the wilderness for 40 years when in unbelief they refused to enter the Promised Land. They were under a special curse according to Numbers 14:29,30 which said that all those over 20 who had sinned would die in the wilderness (within 40 years). This limited their life-span:

“The carcasses of you who have complained against Me shall fall in this wilderness, all of you who were numbered according to your entire number, from twenty years old and above. Except for Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun, you shall by no means enter the land which I swore I would make you dwell in.” 

This curse is described in Psalm 90 as God's wrath and judgment bringing early death on that unbelieving generation:

Psalm 90:5-12: “You carry them away (to death) like a flood. They are like a sleep. In the morning they are like grass which grows up: In the morning it flourishes and grows up; in the evening it is cut down and withers. 

For we have been consumed by Your ANGER, and by Your WRATH we are terrified. You have set our INIQUITIES before You, our secret SINS in the light of Your countenance. For all our days have passed away in Your WRATH; we finish our years like a sigh. The days of our lives are 70 years; and if by reason of strength they are 80 years. Yet their boast is only labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. Who knows the power of Your ANGER? For as the fear of You, so is Your WRATH. So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” 

So this well-known verse in Psalm 90 that seems to define a full life-span as 70-80 years actually describes a specificgeneration of Israel that were under a curse due to their sin. Although Psalm 90:10 says: “The days of our lives are 70 years; and if by reason of strength they are 80 years”, Psalm 90 describes life for the generation of Israel who refused to enter the Promised Land through unbelief. 

As a result they were under a curse that dictated that they could never enter the Land, but instead had to wander the rest of their lives in the wilderness. Therefore they all had to die before the end of the 40 years when Israel would enter the land. As a result it put a limit on their life-spans, so that they could not live long enough to enter the Promised Land. This limited their life-spans to about 70-80 years. 

So 70 or 80 years is not the general maximum life-span for believers. It certainly does not apply to New Testament believers under the blessing of God! Now Joshua, Caleb and Moses who all believed, did not under this curse, and so they all lived to well past 100. We saw that Moses himself lived until 120 and even then he was in full strength could have lived longer. So surely Moses did not mean to say 70-80 was a general maximum life-span. 

In fact, Moses is lamenting as he sees the people all dying unnaturally young around him because of the curse. It is clear that people were used to living much longer and Moses is distressed at seeing people die at only 70 and 80, which he considers to be sadly young! 

So Moses ends the Psalm with a prayer for the ending of the curse, that the people of God will be able to enjoy full and fruitful lives again in the Promised Land: “Return, O LORD! How long? And have compassion on Your servants. Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days! Make us glad according to the days in which You have afflicted us, the years in which we have seen evil. Let Your work appear to Your servants, and Your glory to their children. And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us. Yes, establish the work of our hands” (Psalm 90:13-17). 

So Psalm 90 describes life and life-spans under the curse. Moses went on to write Psalm 91, which describes God’s will and plan for His people under His blessing - a long and satisfying life! For in Psalm 91:16, God Himself says: 
“WITH LONG LIFE WILL I SATISFY HIM.” God wants you to live a full and long and healthy life until you are satisfied, then your spirit can leave your body and go to God. 

These two Psalms of Moses (90 and 91) form a contrasting pair. Psalm 90 shows believers under discipline for stubborn unbelief and disobedience having their life cut short so that they died before reaching 70-80 years old. In contrast, Psalm 91 shows believers under the blessing of God being satisfied with Long-Life. It is Psalm 91, not Psalm 90, that is the norm for believers today who are living in fellowship with God, living under the shadow (protection) of His wings. 

Thus the limit of 70 years was for an unbelieving, cursed people and certainly does not apply to a believing New Testament Christian, who is under the blessing of God. 

As for us, we have been REDEEMED from the CURSE, by Christ, who took the curse of early death for us, by dying on the Cross, so that we can now live under the BLESSING of Abraham (who enjoyed a long and full life of 175 years):

Galatians 3:13,14: “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” Part of the curse that Jesus bore for us was an early death. He was only 33.5 years old when He died. He suffered the curse of an early death, so we could have the promised blessing of a long and blessed life. He took the curse of a life cut short, so that we could live in the blessing of long-life. He did it for us, paying the price in full, so we should honour Him by receiving all that He has done.

Therefore the limit of 70-80 years in Psalm 90, which was imposed on life-spans as a result of a special curse upon the wilderness-generation, does not apply to believers today, who have been redeemed from the curse and are under the blessing of God, for Christ has redeemed us from the curse of an early death, by taking that curse for us, that the blessing of Abraham which includes long-life, might come upon us in Christ.

Moses wrote Psalm 90 to describe those who were under the curse, but in contrast he wrote Psalm 91 to describe believers who live under the blessing (under the shadow of the Most High) which concludes with: “With LONG LIFE will I SATISFY him” (v16). The Long-Life he refers to must be longer than 70 years. Moses himself lived to 120 years old, and was strong and healthy to the end.

Psalm 91:1 describes this blessing that is available to us: 
“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”

In Psalm 91:14-16, God Himself speaks these wonderful promises to us: "Because he has set his love on Me, I will deliver him: I will set him on high, for he has known My name. He will call on me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With LONG LIFE will I SATISFY him, and show him My salvation." To 'SATISFY' means ' to be full'. God wants us to be satisfied with long-life and for it not to be cut short. So if we are not satisfied with 70 years, then we can go on to 80, 90, 100 and even more until we are satisfied! 

Of course we can’t live forever in this mortal body, but we can live a life full of days, rather than it being cut short.Now this is not just a promise about living a long-time, but about us maintaining our basic health and sound mentality into old-age, because if we lose that, we would surely not be SATISFIED with our life would we?! So when God says: “With LONG LIFE will I SATISFY him”, He is not just saying He will give us a long-life, but that we will satisfied with our life because we will be in the blessing of God and basically be in a sound condition.

Many people now live past 80 and increasingly people live to be over 100. 75 is only the average age. So 70/80 cannot beGod’s measure of a full or maximum age. If we make the mistake of believing 70 to be our limit, we will expect and plan to decline as we approach that age and to die soon after. If we think 70 is old-age, then even as a relative youngster in our 40s we will start think of ourselves as middle-aged and on our way down. And “as a man thinks in his heart so he is”(Proverbs 23:7). As a result of this thinking we will become passive, inviting death. Actually the Bible sets a much different limit. We must actively believe for and plan to fulfil our number of years (to live out our full life-span). 

So what is the true Biblical measure of man's life-span? 

Originally man was not designed to die at all; his cells and organs would regenerate perfectly. But sin brought death: 
“In the day that you eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17). God warned Adam that if he sinned against God he would start to experience death, literally: “dying you shall die.”Disconnected from God, he immediately died spiritually, and death also started to work in his body also, through sin, although he lived for another 930 years. Death disrupted his life source and regeneration, limiting how many times cells could be copied. Before the Flood man’s life-spans came up 
to almost 1000 years. Methuselah lived the longest 969 years! However at Noah’s Flood, God shortened man’s life-span to a maximum of 120 years to restrain the spread of sin:

Genesis 6:3: "The LORD said, “My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty (120) years." God is describing His judgement that He was about to bring upon mankind due to the terrible world-wide spread of sin, evil and violence. Here God is announcing He will not always strive with man, but is giving just him at most 120 years of grace to repent and turn to God, for after death it is too late for man to get right with God. 

God is describing the judgement that He was about to bring upon mankind due to the terrible world-wide spread of sin, evil and violence. This judgement was Noah’s Flood and in connection with the Flood, God also reduced man’s maximum full life-span to 120 years. This change started to come into effect at NOAH'S FLOOD, and it has not been changed since, so it still applies today. 

Now one interpretation of these 120 years is that this warning was given to mankind 120 years before the Flood, and so just applies to the people who lived before the Flood. Thus God was warning them that the Flood would fall in 120 years. 

I am quite happy to accept that Genesis 6:3 was a 120-year warning of the Flood. However it is not limited to this, for it clearly reads as a general statement that applies to all of mankind: “My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for he also is flesh: yet his days shall be 120 years."This is general limitation on human lifespans that applies to all mankind, both before and after the Flood. It is one of many changes brought in at this time. 

This interpretation is confirmed by the Biblical evidence that lifespans began to get shorter after the Flood, settling down to a maximum of 120 years. Moreover it is confirmed by present biological fact that 120 is the effective maximum for a human-lifespan. People have been known to life this long, but not much longer. Thus seeing 70 or 80 as the maximum expected length of a life is not true to Biblical or scientific fact (it is actually just the average life-span now). Therefore if we are walking in the blessing of God, we should not limit our expectancy to 70 or 80 good years of health and life.

Now 120 years may seem a lot, but actually it was a major cut back. For as we have seen, before the Flood they often lived over 900 years (see Genesis 5)! At the Flood, God shortened human life-spans to restrain the spread of evil. 

After the Flood ages indeed settled down and continued at about 120. Science confirms that the cells in our body seem to be programmed to continue to replicate for about 120 years but no more, so that even in the absence of sickness this is an effective maximum age. So at the Flood, God shortened life-spans to 120 years to restrain sin, by reprogramming man’s life-cycle. The changes to the conditions brought about by the Flood also had an effect on life-spans. 

Before the Flood conditions of climate and nutrition were perfect under the protection of the waters above (the water-vapour canopy). But the collapse of this canopy led to more hostile conditions on earth, a greater exposure to ultraviolet radiation and such a drastic decrease of good nutrition from plants that it was necessary for God to sanction the killing of animals for food. A shorter, speeded-up life-span was also a way for mankind to adapt for survival in these worse conditions, because it also meant we could reproduce much faster. 

So according to Genesis 12:3 just before the Flood, God announced that He would not always strive with man, but He would give him at most 120 years of grace to repent and turn to God. In this way God set the practical upper limit for a man’s life at 120 years. That is our true potential, not 70 years. Actually 70 is mid-life - just past half-way. 

This NORM of 120 years came into effect at NOAH'S FLOOD and has not been changed since, so it still applies to us. Thus the yardstick by which we should measure the length of a human life-span is 120 years.If 120 rather than 70 is the full measure of a man’s life then that will change the way you think about your life.

It does not mean you have to live to 120, but that is the effective limit, rather than 70 or 80. If you think you have 
70 years maximum, then when you reach 50-60 you will already start to think of yourself as getting old, expecting to decline and wind down and then die soon, and your body will pick up those signals from your mind. 

Your mind and body are very closely connected. What happens in your body is directly connected to what is happening in your mind. Bad thoughts and attitudes in the mind cause harmful chemicals to be released into the body and brain: causing depression and sickness, while good, joyful thoughts release healthy chemicals: “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones” (Proverbs 17:22). “A sound heart is life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones” (Proverbs 14:30). 

So if your mind is telling your body: “you are getting old, you don’t have long to live”, your body picks up those signals and conforms itself to them. If you think of yourself as old and in decline, you will become passive 
and your body and mind will adjust to your beliefs by slowing down and ageing ahead of time, for: 
“As a man thinks in his heart so he is” (Proverbs 23:7). 

But if you measure your life against 120, then at 50-60 
you will think of yourself as just approaching mid-life and you will be expecting many more good vigourous years serving God, and your mind will program your body accordingly for: “As a man thinks in his heart so he is.” 

So we need to renew our minds with the Word that a full life-span is 120 years, and so we have many good years ahead. If 100-120 is the real definition of old-age, then 60 is only mid-life, not old-age! 

When Reheboam started to reign at age 41, he was considered to be a young man (compare 1Kings 14:21 & 12:8) We saw in Exodus 33:11, that Joshua, at 50 was called a young man! At this time he was on the front-line whenever Israel fought a battle! He was 90 when he led the invasion of the Promised Land. Look at Moses who only really got started at 80! So in comparison you are still a youngster! 

Let God renew your youth like an eagle, so that you can rise up with new wings to new heights in God! He is no respecter of persons and so wants to give you the same youthful vigour and good mentality as these men of God had in their later years. So do not RE-TIRE from God’s work, but RE-FIRE, unless by 're-tire' you are thinking of yourself as a car! 

When you look at a big plane you think it could never leave the ground, because the law of gravity would keep it down. Likewise you might think your life could never lift off again. But as a plane moves forward, the law of lift overcomes the law of gravity. Likewise when we move forward, trusting in Christ’s life to renew and lift us: “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus sets us free from the law of sin and death (that pulls us down)” (Romans 8:2). With our wings of faith stretched out to receive the action of the wind of the Spirit, we will start to rise up on wings as an eagle (Isaiah 40:31).We resist death by constantly laying hold of His resurrection life which overcomes death. We can believe God for a renewal of our physical and mental strength (youth). 

Declare with the Psalmist: "I shall not die (young), but live (long), and declare the works of the Lord" (Psalm 118:17).



About Us



Bible Commentary






OBC Office

363 Banbury Road
Oxford - England - UK
Telephone: +44 (0)1865 515086
Fax: +44 (0) 8721 107068
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Sunday Services

Sundays at 11am and 6pm
Cheney School Hall
Cheney Lane - Headington
Oxford - England - UK