The Search for Eternal Youth

“And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever: therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the Garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” —Genesis 3:22-24

“AND the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Gen. 2:7) The Revised Standard Version uses the expression “living being” instead of soul, but the thought is the same. The soul is the being, and it was a living soul, capable of enjoying all the blessings of the human life. “And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” (Gen. 2:8,9) Concerning the fruit-bearing trees in the Garden of Eden, the Lord said, “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”—Gen. 2:16,17

The marginal translation of the expression “thou shalt surely die” is “dying thou shalt die.” This indicates clearly that in those whom God had created perfect death would begin to work from the time they transgressed his law. Our first parents did disobey with respect to eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and no human since that time has escaped the result of that transgression—the only ones still alive to some degree being the present generation. All have succumbed to the aging process and finally pass from the land of the living.

However, to start with, the human life span was very long compared with what it is today. Adam himself lived 930 years; Seth lived 912 years; Enos was 950 when he died. Cainan lived 910 years before he died. Mahalaleel lived 962 years. Enoch lived 365 years. Methuselah was the oldest of the antediluvian world and he lived 969 years, the year of his death being the year of the Flood.

In all probability, despite the great age of these antediluvian patriarchs, they would all have liked to continue living. No one wants to die, unless he has become deranged in his mind. And the people of that first world, no doubt, for the most part enjoyed good health and would have real incentive for continuing to live.

Beginning after the Flood the human life span soon became shorter, the exception being Noah and his family who were brought through the Flood and began a new life. Noah lived 600 years before the Flood and 350 after the Flood, which made the total length of his life 950 years. Noah’s son, Shem, lived a total of 600 years. His son, Arphaxad, lived to be 433 years old. But as we trace the longevity of the people of that ancient age, we find that it gradually becomes shorter. When we come to Abraham we find that his life span was only 175 years, while his father’s age was 205 years. Moving on quickly to the time of Moses, we find that he lived a total of 120 years, but during his lifetime he wrote a song of praise to the Lord in which he said, “The days of our years are three score years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.”—Ps. 90:10

The average life span given by Moses is essentially what the people of the United States and other countries experience today. And how true is his observation that if one reaches 70 years and has strength to go on for another 10 years, his last years are “labor and sorrow”! From the time of Moses down through the ages the average length of life, although it has varied to some extent, has never shown any significant change. There have been low periods and higher ones. Some scholars say that in Jesus’ day the average length of life was 22 years, but we doubt if this was based upon anything more than conjecture.

By the time we reach the Middle Ages, however, it would seem that for a considerable time the average length of life was in the 40’s. Then it dropped back until, at the beginning of the 19th century, it was considerably below 40 years. At the beginning of the 20th century it took an upswing, so that now it is hovering around the 70-year mark.

The reason for this increase in modern times has been the advancement of medical science, one of the results being a much lower mortality rate among infants. So-called miracle drugs have also been responsible for the control and cure of diseases formerly considered to be incurable. Better care for the aged also enters into this.

The Illusive Fountain of Youth

Throughout the existence of man on the earth, the human species has continued to hope and work for a better understanding of life, with a view to extending its duration. All sorts of means to conquer diseases and the aging process have been brought forth, but to no avail. God said that because of man’s disobedience he should die, and no human effort will ever succeed in changing that edict.

There have also been the magic healers of the East, and the medicine men of other non-Christian religions. And while great claims have been made for what has been accomplished, the net result has been not the destruction of disease, but the continuation of death. Even with so-called faith healers in the professed Christian church, while they claim to heal disease in a miraculous way, none of them has ever made any claim whatsoever of keeping people alive forever. Even the famous Mary Baker Eddy, who denied the existence of sickness and death, herself died, living no longer than the average human.

Genuine Divine Healing

According to the promises of God—and we can rely upon them—the time is coming on this earth when there will be an unlimited extension of the life span, because those promises assure us that in the Creator’s grand design humans will enjoy that much sought after pleasure of living forever, free from sickness and free from death. One of these promises is, “The inhabitant shall not say, I am sick; the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity.” (Isa. 33:24) Here we are told that the illnesses of the people will no longer exist, and therefore can no longer be used as a subject for conversation.

This great change will come about because, as this text so plainly states, the people shall be forgiven their iniquities. Original sin, and the fact that all became sinners through our first parents, has been responsible for death. Paul wrote, “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (I Cor. 15:21,22) The reason all will be made alive through Christ is that, by his death on Calvary’s cross as an untarnished human, he provided redemption—a ransom—for Adam and his entire race. This means that in God’s due time the dead world of mankind, as well as those who are dying, will be released from the penalty of death and given an understanding of God’s great plan of salvation and an opportunity to prove their individual worthiness by loyalty to the divine principles of righteousness. Then the sick will no longer remain sick; the dying will be restored to health, and the dead awakened from the sleep of death.

Illustrated Promises

In the prophecies of Ezekiel, chapter 47, the marvelous promise of health and life is presented to us in pictorial language. In preceding chapters a description is given of a temple, which we understand also to be symbolic. It is the blessings which will accrue from God through this symbolic temple that are described in chapter 47. These promised blessings are represented as reaching the people through waters which flow out from the temple. We quote part of the summary given to us by the Prophet Ezekiel: “And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh.” (vs. 9) “And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine.”—vs. 12

“And the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine.” Thus does the Lord picture for us that food and medicine for which all the people of the world have longed, and have died in despair in their search for it.

The marginal translation of the statement, “the leaf thereof for medicine,” reads “for bruises and sores.” How the world of mankind has been bruised and hurt through their struggles against their enemies, most of whom have been themselves! But this divine healing of the future, accomplished by the promised waters of life, will heal the minds as well as the bodies, and they will rejoice in the fact that, after all, the great Creator of the universe did not forget them, but made provision for their eternal happiness.

A Similar Illustration

In Revelation 22:1, 2, here also the blessings which God has promised to shower upon the people are symbolized by a river and the trees which grow beside that river. Here, instead of the river flowing out from a symbolic temple, it is said to proceed out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. We quote: “And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”

In ancient times God’s presence among the people was symbolized by a tabernacle, or temple, hence the description of that symbolic temple that was given to Ezekiel, and from which the river of life so profusely flowed. Here in Revelation it is emphasized even more clearly that this river of water of life really flows from the throne of God and of the Lamb.

Here we have God represented as the fountain source of the blessings he has designed for the human race. The Lamb is a symbol of Jesus, the Redeemer and Savior of the world. It is through the death of the slain Lamb that the world of mankind will have the privilege, in God’s due time, of partaking of the river of the water of life. In this wonderful promise, instead of being told that the leaves of the trees were for medicine, it says that these leaves will be a source of healing of the nations, and surely the nations will need to be healed. How we rejoice that then the people will discover, and for the most part, we believe, avail themselves of the provisions of life which the great God of the universe has provided for them. And it will be made known that these blessings are free, and for all.

In the 17th verse of the chapter, following the same thought, we quote: “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Judging from the efforts of the people throughout the ages to attain life, there seems little doubt but that the response to this invitation during the future reign of Christ will be well-nigh universal. Truly the world’s hopes for the future are as bright as the promises of God!

Dawn Bible Students Association
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