11 Who knows the power of Your anger? For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath.
12 So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.....(Psalm 90:10-12)
Any glance at the obituaries in any local newspaper would show its usual share of senior citizens who have passed on into eternity, after long productive lives. However, on an increasing basis, a disturbing trend has developed over the last two decades as more and more younger people are moving into eternity in their 20's, 30's and 40's. I have known some of them.
Judging from the brief synopsis of their lives and legacies, the chief end of the younger set seems to be a whole lot of self-gratification and almost nothing of any eternal value. Most of them do not even have a Christian burial. They are mostly cremated now and "celebration of life" in taverns, restaurants or banquet halls are increasingly the norm. Their apparently main accomplishments in life seem to include things like "he was a loyal St. Louis Cardinals and NASCAR fan"....or "she loved pets and volunteered tirelessly at the local animal shelter"....or so and so "loved family picnics, backyard barbecues and feeding ducks in the park".
What does all of this mean, in relation to what the Bible says in these verses (Psalm 90:10-12)? It most definitely shows us that the normal nice folks next door and down the street, while susceptible to the same uncertainties of life, which you and I possess, are oblivious to what the next stage of life holds for them. As previously stated, mankind was created to live forever. The choice is up to the individual WHERE their eternity lies. By the time this current age expires, which it will, NOBODY could use the excuse before God that they never heard of God, Jesus or the plan of eternal salvation.
Before the great Flood in Genesis 6, of which there is ample evidence (Grand Canyon, rock formation etc), people lived hundreds of years. However, the sheer volume of water flooding the earth, altered the eco-systems to the point where, apart from Noah who lived a couple hundred years after the Flood subsided, the atmosphere (and God) only allowed a lifespan of around 120 or so years. Abraham lived 176 years before he went into Eternity. Moses was stronger at 120 when God took him, than most 40 year olds are today. The average lifespan in the 1800's was hardly 35-40 years yet today, due to excellent medical care, we can now live into our 80's and 90's.
In the long run, the numbers are not as important as our preparation to meet our Maker. Additionally, the demands of modern life are such that hope is a premium. The cost of living and/or providing for a family leave many to wonder if "this is all there is". When you parallel this to the increasing number of "nones" (those with no religious or "faith") - they are correct - there is no Hope. There is no Hope because they refuse to see the evidence of God all around them in Creation and the still on-going proclamation of the Gospel from street corners and church pulpits. We can blame the culture, churches and conmen from Charles Darwin to Marx to the new Buddhist craze of "meditation" etc. But the fault, as we know from the prompting of the Holy Spirit, Who indwells Christians, that the problem is sin.
Sin faces the Wrath of God. The nice couple in the 40's who perished together in a motorcycle accident, as friendly and hard-working as they were in their community, will face eternal separation from God as much as the 70 year old pastor who was never born again, but faked his way through life with people thinking he was such a godly man! The nice grandmother who volunteers in the small town library or the forty year old social worker who specializes in helping people access needed benefits for her hungry toddlers will face the anger of God one day, for rejecting the Gospel and staying at arms' length from the Everlasting Arms which wanted to hold and love them.
So given the fact that the majority of mankind, whether they perished when a bridge collapses in China or an earthquake kills 350 in Ecuador or another scaffold collapses outside a half-finished skyscraper in Seattle, will have no standing before God, what can be done?
Verse 12 tells us "teach us to number our days". The original word for "number" is the Hebrew word "manah". Basically, God is encouraging us through this portion of Moses' His Prophet's prayer to make every day of our lives count! Not just that, but we have the opportunity to approach God to ask Him HOW to make it happen. "Teach us" means "God, I have no clue how to do this, can you help me make something out of my life, to make a difference to someone else's life which can bring meaning both them and me, please? Teach me, oh God, how to do this thing called life. I feel so useless, in vain search of meaningful thoughts and actions and feel as if all I do is work, sleep, eat, watch TV, go to ball games and such. Help me oh, God."
This is guaranteed to work....but there is one catch. God does not hear the prayer of an unrighteous or unsaved person. This cry and appeal to Holy God only works if your life is found in Christ, your sins are forgiven and you are a real Christian, which Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
The second part of verse 12 is "that we may gain a heart of wisdom". The Wisdom of the knowledge of God implied here is "chokmah" or true wisdom, which starts with knowing God, fearing Him in the right way and wanting to seek and serve Him daily. This is what brings meaning to our lives - being wise in the Ways, Works and Wonders of God. Hence, this heart of wisdom can only come from knowing Him....and we know Him from knowing His Word - reading, studying and understanding the Scriptures. Verse 12 is calling us to come to God to ask for a realization of some of His Wisdom that we may be focused and disciplined in our approach to life.
This may seem easier to speak about than to put into practice. However, it is a common sense approach to these fleeting years on earth. It used to be when we were little kids that the summer months seemed to last forever. Now, even young people comment how fast the years are flying by. This can be compared to the last few sheets on a roll of paper towels where those last sheets of Bounty or whatever, fly right off the roll - then it's over.
Life is like this, for us as well as all mankind. The end of all things approaches quickly. Therefore, it is very wise to be prepared no matter how young or old, whether 17 or 70, to stand before God. The question is - how prepared are we?
(Photo Credit Here)
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