That said, the other night, I asked God to show me something new. And He did, and it was a whopper, related to age. It honestly shifted my perspective about everything I ever thought I knew about life, the universe, and everything.
Let’s start with some explanation. God created man to live forever. When sin entered the world, death followed, and so Adam died after he lived 930 years. His son lived 912 years, and so on and so on, until Noah, when God saw that 1,000 years just brought man to a point where every thought he had was evil, so God cut back the lifespan of human beings to 120 years, which is our current threshold. But, Isaiah 65:20 says that there is a day coming when,
No longer will there be an infant who lives but a few days, Or an old man who does not live out his days; For the youth will die at the age of one hundred And the one who does not reach the age of one hundred Will be thought accursed.
What is 33 years compared to eternity? For that matter what is 33 years compared to 1,000 years? It’s nothing. Isaiah says a youth will live to be 100 years old. By those standards a 33 year old is just a child.
And when that thought hit me, my perspective on a lot of verses in the Bible suddenly shifted.
Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” (Mark 10:15)
"Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3-4)
Jesus isn’t talking about shifting our thinking to somehow make ourselves think like toddlers or little kids; He is saying we need to shift our thinking to realize we are just toddlers and little kids. We die in our youth because of the curse of sin. No matter how much we think we know, even the smartest and wisest among us is just a baby that might have learned to walk earlier than the rest.
But then I began to question, “what about the whole, ‘ I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things’ deal Paul talks about. Doesn’t that mean we grow up in this lifetime? Hasn’t every pastor and teacher I’ve heard use that verse when talking about spiritual and physical maturity?
So, I turned to 1 Corinthians 13 to read it again. This is what it says in context:
Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.
When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:8-13)
That verse is set in the context of entering eternity. Yes we will grow up, but not until we see Jesus face-to-face in eternity. Until then, we have to recognize that in this life we are and will never be anything but children. This is a humbling thought, just as Jesus said it is. That’s what it means to be a “child” of God. That’s what it means to have an eternal perspective, to really understand that this life is just the beginning.
And then I thought about Jesus’ life on Earth. He was given as a sacrifice at 33 years old, and He is called the “lamb of God,” not the ram of God, but the “lamb”. This isn’t just semantics to fulfill the atonement of the old covenant. He was a baby when he died. And at this point when He returns to Earth, He will be a grown up. We don’t even have a concept of what a grown up human being looks like.
I’ll leave off with this verse, as I’m still coming to grips with this whole idea myself:
Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. (1 John 2:28)