Blessed are the centenarians

If she were alive, my paternal grandmother, who went to be with Christ in 2003, would turn one hundred years old today.  Being of a historical cast of mind, this set me to thinking about all of the changes she saw in her comparatively long lifespan: society moving from horse-drawn conveyance to the dominance of the automobile; widespread air travel to far-flung places; telephones,  radios, televisions, and the personal computer proliferating; men on the moon rather than the fanciful “man in the moon” – just to name a few of the epoch-making shifts in technology that occurred between 1911-2003.

For all of this, I cannot help thinking that one hundred years is much briefer than what ought to be for someone to really accomplish something. How our lives are shortened and depleted by the effects of sin: change, decay, pain – the ubiquitous fruits of the Fall (Gen. 3; Rom. 5:12; Rom. 8:18-19.) Science and pseudo-science alike vainly pursue ways to cheat death, while science fiction posits future utopias where humans live for ages (or just beat the system through time travel.) Yet at the end of the day, people still succumb to illness, accident, and violence – many of them far short of the century mark. Moses could relate to this grueling mortality, which he experienced in Israel’s wilderness wanderings:

For all our days have passed away in Your wrath; We finish our years like a sigh. The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away. Psalm 90:9-10

Thankfully, the Word of God points ahead to the inauguration of Christ’s kingdom on earth, where the effects of the fall will first be drastically rolled back, and then after the thousand year reign on earth, they will give way to an eternal reign of deathless bliss. To convey the blessedness of those who live during the initial Millennium (so indicated by Rev. 20:4), Isaiah 65 invokes the image of the prevalence of centenarians in this future kingdom. Verses 19-20 declare:

I will rejoice in Jerusalem, And joy in My people; The voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her, Nor the voice of crying. “No more shall an infant from there live but a few days, Nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days; For the child shall die one hundred years old, But the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed.

What a scene! If one dies at on hundred they are merely a child! Such people succumbing at one hundred will only do so because of punishment for sin – a swiftly carried out death sentence for grave disobedience to the Son of God who will be reigning on earth from His headquarters in Jerusalem. Revelation 19:15 describes the Lord Jesus ruling “with a rod of iron“; His administration will tolerate no rebellion or warfare. The last Adam will demonstrate what God the Father always desired for earth by perfectly governing  the earth for one thousand years, there will be a brief war with those who refuse to submit to His authority (Rev. 20:7-10.) This insurgency will promptly be vanquished, and the earth will be renovated by God’s purifying fire. This age will be superseded by the age to come, where there are “new heavens and a new earth wherein dwell righteousness” (2 Pet. 3:13.)

So blessed are the centenarians! If one reaches that milestone, it is due to the grace of God in giving natural life. But only if you are born again can you be assured to live with the Son of God in that age beyond the century mark to a deathless future eternity through the new life that He gives (Jn. 3:3.)