Why did Methuselah live so long?

There is a dynamic interplay in the story of Noah that has intrigued me recently.

Methuselah’s age as recorded in the Bible has become the stuff of trivia, factoid, debate. But have you ever wondered why he was the one who lived the longest?

Methuselah’s name is significant. It means, “when he dies, it will be sent.” The it, of course, being the flood. This means that Noah wasn’t the only one to get the revelation concerning the destiny of the world. His great grandfather Enoch did too. Once Enoch saw this revelation, he began to walk with God.

Revelation changes us.

It has the power to radically alter our life habits, to the point where our friends may wonder if we are the same person as before.

Noah in a sense inherited the revelations of the godly men before him. Noah was born into something that was already set in motion by God. He came on the scene right in the midst of it. Then God came in and revealed the situation to him and also the way of salvation.

That must have been a decisive moment in his life. The impact of the revelation must have been staggering. To put it in Watchman Nee’s words, he saw “a world under water.” How could he live the same? In a sense, that moment defined him. His life could be dived by the before and after. This revelation produced a deep inward realization about everything.

Imagine walking through town later that day and looking around thinking, “It’s all going to be under water.”

Noah had only one option before him- build the ark. And he was racing against time. Methuselah could have died at any moment. In fact the characteristic of that age was unprecedented violence.

Now, consider two scenarios.

What if Methuselah died before Noah finished building the ark?

I don’t think God would have allowed that. That would mean the flood would have come before the building was complete.

What if Noah finished building the ark before Methuselah reached 969?

I think Methuselah would have died younger. I don’t think God would have just let the ark sit around for 50 years after it was completed. The point was that the ark needed to be built for a new generation to be ushered in.

Thus there was a dynamic interplay between Methuselah’s age and the time it took Noah to build the ark.

The reason Methuselah ended up being the oldest person in the Bible was because God was waiting for the building of the ark.

…when the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared…

1 Peter 3:20

No one knew when Methuselah would die. What they could see was the relative completion of the ark. That was surely a sign to them.

I think this same dynamism exists today. On the one hand, we don’t know when Christ will return. But the building of the church is a sign to us. When the church is built to a sufficient degree the Lord will come. Recently some people have been predicting when Christ will return. This would be like sitting around and betting on when Methuselah would die. Noah’s family may not have been so clear regarding when the flood was coming, but they got built into the ark.

Focusing on when exactly Christ will return or trying to guess the date does not do that much for us because the crucial thing is the building of the church and our being built into the church.

If the story of Noah has any spiritual implications related to the church, then this means that Christ’s second coming is directly related to the building of the church.

17 thoughts on “Why did Methuselah live so long?

  1. It’s awesome that the building of the ark, which ushered in the next age in Noah’s time, could be likened to the building of the church today, which will usher in the next age upon completion. So good bro!

  2. I was thinking about the same thing, actually – how comes that in the very same year Methuselah died the flood came? God is really amazing in the way the Bible is written and in the way the stories in the Bible match in principle – and they are applicable today in our life!

    • The correlation between Methuselah’s death and the flood is one thing. The correlation between Metheselah’s death and the building of the ark is another. I am trying to emphasize the second. The first one merely implies that when Christ comes judgement will come. The second one implies that when the church is built up is when Christ will come. Thanks for reading.

  3. “The reason Methuselah ended up being the oldest person in the Bible was because God was waiting for the building of the ark.” –Awesome!

    Thanks for reminding me of our commission here on earth.

  4. Pingback: Perspective on the Mission of the Church: Noah « life and building

  5. Actually this parallel is quite sobering indeed. God has to be the One waiting the longest for the building to be completed. Methuselah’s age was how long God had waited; and now He is waiting again for the building up of the church. Until when do we make Him wait? I’m the first one guilty of this languishing. Thanks for the reminder, Kyle.

    • Katherine,
      From this angle it’s true that God is waiting. But Peter has another word on God’s long-suffering that is very touching.

      2 Peter 3:10 “The Lord does not delay regarding the promise, as some count delay, but is long-suffering toward you, not intending that any perish but that all advance to repentance.”

      To me this is an amazing duality. There’s a footnote I love in the Recovery Version Bible on this verse that reads: “The Lord’s heart is set not on the time of the fulfillment of His promise but on His people, whom He possesses peculiarly as a treasure.”

      So count the delay on God’s part as a prolonged opportunity to be saved and built up more in His life.

  6. Great deduction on why Methuselah was the one who lived the longest.

    Interesting to note, that the Church or churches will not be raptured at Christ’s secret coming, just a minority of believers, the overcomers. Therefore if Christ return is only after the Church is built up, then there is an implication as to the definition of what the built up Church refers to, that being perhaps the overcomers. Christ is waiting for a sufficient amount of overcomers who are mature in life, or rather a sufficient amount of His matured life in any number of overcomers.

    As we know from Revelation 3, there will always be a “Laodicea” or at least “Laodiceans” until the new heaven and new earth, in which all believers are mature in life. Today on the earth, among the “Laodiceans”, there are “Philadelphians.” Christianity and “Laodicea” are not equavialent, and the local churches and “Philadelphia” are not equivalent, necessarily. By this I mean, the matter of “Laodicean” and “Philadelphian” in the end becomes an individual (not individualist) matter. Christ will not come to check the condition of your church, but of you, we as individual people will be punished or rewarded with ourselves as the basis. That being said, the location and atmosphere of our daily church life and our companions are vitally necessary and a help to us in reaching an adequate maturity in life. However, they are not guarantors. Many of the overcomers will be the ones who live the Body life, in local churches, and surely being diligent to keep the oneness. Certainly building up the Church, will help qualify us as overcomers, as is implied in the type of Noah.

    This comment of course is quite brief and does not adequately nor fully cover the scope of the matters touched upon there in. All believers should examine these further (Acts 17:11). I am not in any way pointing out a lack in the presentation of the article, as my comments were not the goal or point being made in it, rather I am merely commenting with my considerations as I read the post.

    Again, good find, on the further correlation between Methuselah and the building of the ark.

    On a lighter note, I hope no one is give Ms. Besse Cooper any trouble.

  7. Thanks for the lengthy and insightful comment. I agree. So far in my understanding there are three main reasons that qualify overcomering- reaching a relative maturity in the growth of the divine life, being faithful in functioning with your spiritual gift according to God’s will, and being built up with other members in the reality of the Body of Christ.

  8. Pingback: Psalm 90: Dwelling in God to Escape Vanity « life and building

  9. Pingback: While the Ark was being Prepared | Ark and Architecture

  10. Pingback: Evangelism and Christ’s Return | life and building

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