My grandmother died two weeks abbreviate of her 102nd birthday. I’ll acquaint you added about her in a minute. But Methuselah? He was OLD. What would it be like to be a 969-year-old? What would it be like to be the grandfathering of Noah? Yes, that Noah. What would it be like to attestant the alpha of the Flood?
Methuselah was the eighth amid the age-old patriarchs, those precursors of our avant-garde blazon of humanity. They lived long; we alive short. From the aboriginal of our ancestors, Adam, and through to the tenth, Noah, constancy was what they had and how they lived. What did Methuselah anguish about aback he was, say, middle-aged, at 500? The Flood was still to come.
Methuselah was the longest lived amid the ten, although four others lived, as he did, best than 900 years. The beeline lived was Methuselah’s son Lamech, who died aback he was a bald 777-year-old.
All these ten patriarchs died accustomed deaths except one. Methuselah’s father, Enoch, did not die. At age 365, he “walked with God” and, as Genesis 5:23 puts it, “he [Enoch] was not, for God took him.” In added words, Enoch was transferred anon into heaven by God…which God would afterwards do with Elijah as declared in 2 Kings 2:11. Enoch and Elijah are the alone two men in Scripture who went to heaven afterwards dying first.
Are we certain, though, about Enoch? We’re assertive about Elijah—the Bible tells us capacity of his transport. But Genesis does not say breadth God took Enoch, nor does it call the capacity added than to say that Enoch was not. Most Christians, including the ancient commentators, accept Enoch was taken up to heaven, but how?
Saint Ambrose (c. 340-397) in his assignment Isaac, or the Soul, fleshes out the adventure with affecting detail. Ambrose alludes to Pentecost; he refers to the wings of blaze that flew through the mouths of the Apostles, those authentic wings which batten the authentic word. Enoch flew on these wings, avers Ambrose, aback he was snatched up to heaven. Ambrose goes further and comments that Enoch’s carriage shows us article we charge to know, article we should administer didactically to ourselves. Those who absolutely “walk with God” address their achievement in God and so do not accept amid the amiss of apple but are transported, so to speak. They carve to God, we should, too.
The actuality that Methuselah’s dad vanished makes an agitative tale, and Methuselah’s grandson additionally has an agitative tale. Most of us abstruse about him during our childhoods. He was Noah, the ark man. Our children’s Bibles had illustrations of the animals—two by two—marching into Noah’s ark. I apprehend abounding of us had our own set of comedy animals and a comedy ark to go with them.
But what does Scripture acquaint us about Methuselah himself, son of Enoch and grandfathering of Noah? Not much.
Among the age-old patriarchs, Adam gets a lot of scriptural attention—he actuality the first—as does Noah, the last. Enoch has his carriage story, by agency of airy blaze or otherwise. But all the blow of the patriarchs get alone three sentences each, and they all get the aforementioned sentences, in aureate repetition. Apprehend Genesis 5. Amid ballad 4 and ballad 31 all the affectionate lives are summed up, and the summations use absolutely the aforementioned words (with one added book for Enoch). Alone the men’s names alter and their numbers of years.
For example, apropos Methuselah, actuality are the three sentences. First, we apprentice how old he was aback he fathered his aboriginal son—187 years. Second, we apprentice how continued he lived afterwards the bearing of his aboriginal son and that he had added sons and daughters—782 years, and they all had added sons and daughters. Third, his lifespan is summed up in years—969 years—and afresh there is a final phrase, “and he died.”
We apprehend that aforementioned anapestic admeasurement apropos nine out of the ten patriarchs: “and he died.” There is arcane ability in this tolling, bell-like refrain.
Literary ability is advised in Scripture. God, who is both advocate and author, is airy but He speaks—either as a still, baby articulation (to Elijah in 1 Kings 19:12) or as a cavernous barrage (enjoined by Elihu to be heard by Job in Job 37:2). Aback God speaks, the Hebrew chat debar, which is used, agency both chat and action. Both at the aforementioned time. Chat is action; chat does not accept idly, on its own merit.
Regarding the age-old patriarchs, God’s alliteration in Genesis 5is deliberate. And he died, and he died, and he died. This alliteration is formative. It assemblage to the absolute advance of time and accident in the age-old era while at the aforementioned time—literarily, creatively, and biblically—it is the advance of time and event.
I’ve declared that we apprentice annihilation about Methuselah in the Bible except from his three sentences. But is there annihilation we can infer? What about the man’s name? What does his name advance to us? Most advisers accept Methuselah’s name is Semitic, so I agree.
Semitic (and Hebrew) actuality is abiding in the salvific adventure of the Old Testament. God’s act, which is His word, included the afterward debarim(plural of debar). He “spoke” a bodies of His own, in His image, to accept the apple He made, to curl in it, to multiply, and to obey the distinct bidding He set in place. Unfortunately, they didn’t. And thereby hangs a tale. In fact, thereby hangs the account of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. But aback to Methuselah.
The aboriginal bisected of the man’s name, which is the m tu portion, is about absolutely man of. Afterwards that, it gets dicey. I’ve apprehend that the acceptable compassionate of this portion, as allotment of a name, is javelin. If accurate, Methuselah is the age-old Javelin Man, which is a air-conditioned hero appellation I adore. Added suggestions of the acceptation accommodate beatific or sending—hence beatific man. Or canal—hence man of the canal. Maybe one of these others is the absolute actual one, but neither one of them is as agitative as Javelin Man!
Personally, (here I’m cerebration of myself as an age-old patriarch) I was never abundant acceptable at the javelin; instead, the added “patriarchs” dubbed me Shot Put Man. But I had javelin friends, and I bethink the way they beatific their spears cavernous and singing through the high air in the sun, aback we were all out on the acreage aggressive during our age of twenty-somethings. Because of those agitative moments, I adulation to brainstorm my age-old assistant Methuselah, a able-bodied adolescent amateur during his 300-somethings, conceivably at war or added acceptable aggressive in the anniversary Semitic Games—javelin high!
The age-old age was the aeon into which the history of humankind descended afterwards the Fall. Kicked out of the Garden, Adam and Eve were afar from God’s actual companionship—in the air-conditioned of the day—and affected to accomplish their way on their own, in a apple acute activity from men in the fields and activity from women in childbirth. Disease, evil, death—all these were the after-effects of sin…and are still our absoluteness today as inheritors of amiss attributes in a collapsed world.
In fact, the chicane of the angry one accept been so acknowledged back his actualization as the fourth aborigine of the Garden that, today, we hardly admit his assignment as accepting austere the universe, so all-over is the blight. Today, we go forth in our lives feeling—more or less—our coercion to sin, accomplishing our best to abstain it aback we are in a beneficial mood, aggravating aback we’re not too absent to get ourselves afterpiece to Jesus, accomplishing the best we can. But we are fallen.
The catechism has generally appear up: how is it that the age-old patriarchs lived lives of a breadth that is incomprehensible to us? I mentioned my grandmother who was a centenarian (my dad was one too—101). But these a bodies who seemed to me to be so old were outpaced by the patriarchs at the amount of seven, eight, or nine times! What did they bethink and affair themselves about aback they were amidst by their aboriginal sons and their added sons and daughters at a altogether party?
Maybe, here’s how their constancy came to be, and afresh stopped. Cain dead Abel, about as aboriginal in the affectionate age as possible. Adam and Eve had addition son, Seth, to alter their acceptable Abel. Afterwards that, for centuries battle austere amid the acceptable Sethites and the bad Cainites—interpreters accede Methuselah to accept been a Sethite—and whatever was good, and strong, and angelic in God’s eye was aged until God was angered mightily.
The Spirit of God still address in humankind until the end of the affectionate age. However, God was fed up with the abhorrence of man, which was abundant aloft the earth. God dictated that His Spirit would not accept in humankind forever. At the end of the age, God bent that “[Mankind’s] canicule shall be 120 years,” as is appear in Genesis 6:3. God’s acerbity was such that, aback he begin one angelic man, Methuselah’s grandson, He bent to alpha over again, this time with that one angelic man, with Noah, his wife, their three sons and their wives—and with seven pairs of all the apple-pie animals, and one brace of all the barn animals. And afresh God unleashed the Flood. It was by acceptance that Noah was begin righteous, and it was by acceptance that he and all added assertive patriarchs were adored and adored by grace.
Slender and elegant, my grandmother sat on her couch in the average of her all-encompassing ancestors of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. I am her aboriginal grandchild. I sat aing to her. I was 42 and would be 43 in two weeks—getting earlier myself. I bethink that our chat went article like this.
“How are you doing, Gram?” “I’m activity good. I appetite to see what happens next.” “I’m told that the aboriginal aeon is the hardest. Afterwards that they get easier.” She laughed. “That’s acceptable to know.” She smiled at me. “Have you been talking about it with Methuselah?” “I can’t acquisition him anywhere.” She anticipation for a moment and afresh said, “He’s out there somewhere. All those old ones are. We can still feel them if we try.”
Today, we still alive in a collapsed apple and bodies are still captivated by amiss nature, but God had a plan from the actual alpha alive the best the aboriginal Adam would make. His plan of accretion through His Son Jesus the Messiah is accessible to all—all can be adored by adroitness through faith. One day, as believers, aback we canyon from this apple and access into the adorable attendance of our Father, we will see every accepter from the patriarchs alee who was adored by the extenuative ability of the Savior.
Dr. Dikkon Eberhart and his wife Channa alive in the Blue Ridge breadth of SW Virginia. They accept four developed accouchement and bristles grandchildren, who accumulate them busy. Eberhart is the columnist of the accepted account The Time Mom Met Hitler, Frost Came to Dinner, and I Heard the Greatest Adventure Ever Told (Tyndale House Publishers). Eberhart writes memoirs to abetment those who continued to be afterpiece to God. Meet him at his blog and website www.dikkoneberhart.com
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