Thursday, February 20, 2014

Study Starter: The Death of Methuselah

Bulletin Study Starter: Sunday, February 23rd, 2014
The Death of Methuselah - By Christopher Wiles
Study Starters are ideas from my personal study that are intended to get you thinking about a Bible topic by piquing your curiosity concerning spiritual things.

The Death of Methuselah
Recently, some numbers in my morning study (from Genesis 5-7) got me doing some mental math and I found a startling discovery.  Methuselah died the year of the flood!  It seems odd that the Bible doesn’t mention that the longest man to ever live (969 years in Gen 5:27) died near the flood, and maybe even in the flood.  It also seems odd that I’ve never read a commentary about Methuselah's death, nor ever had a professor mention it, nor heard it in a sermon. How did I stumble upon the idea of Methuselah dying in/near the flood?

First, start with Genesis 7:6 which states Noah was 600 years old when the flood came.  Next, look at Noah’s father, Lamech, who was 182 years old when Noah was born (Gen 5:28).  Lamech lived a total of 595 years after Noah was born(Gen 5:30) which puts his death 5 years before the flood.  But what about Methuselah, who was Lamech’s father?

Methuselah was 187 years old when Lamech was born (Gen 5:25).  So Methuselah was 369 years old when Noah, his grandson, was born (187+182=369).  We can determine how long the flood happened after Methuselah's birth by adding 369+600 (remember, the flood was 600 years after Noah was born (Gen 7:6).  When you add 369+600, what do you get?  969 YEARS!  The flood happened 969 years after Methuselah was born, which is also how long Methuselah lived (Gen 5:27).

So that makes me ask a few questions “Did Methuselah die in the flood?”  “Was Methuselah an unrighteous man since Noah was the only one spoken of as righteous? (Gen 7:1)”  “Were Methuselah and Lamech corrupt and violent like the rest of the earth? (Gen 6:11-12)”  “Might Methuselah have broken the 1000 year mark if he had been found righteous at the flood?”

A quick Google search shows there are several theories and Jewish traditions to read on  the death of Methuselah, the oldest man to ever live.  What do you think?  What’s your theory?  May this finding encourage you to pay attention to those “boring” genealogies for they may have a story to tell all on their own!

“The fear of the LORD adds length to life, but the years of the wicked are cut short.” - Proverbs 10:27

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Living Lessons: The Cries of a Child

Living Lessons: Sunday February 9th, 2014
The cries of a child:   Whew, it’s been a challenging week! Being the hospital chaplain on call this past week had me clipping on my DCH nametag at crazy hours responding to tough family situations.  Multiple moments have seen a grown man or woman shedding tears in my arms while searching for answers to life’s trials.  What would you say to help ease their grief?
I “noticed” another scripture this week that I have pointed people to in tough times.  From Genesis 21:17 we read 17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there.’”

What a beautiful verse sharing the blessings of care from our God!  We do not serve a God that is distant, detached, or dispassionate.  No, we serve a God who hears the cries of even a child in the desert.  He cares about the cries of a child, and He responds.

Someone might be tempted to say that God really only cares this deeply about spiritual titans like those in the hall of faith, or those who are extremely devout, yet this passage lets us know God cares for the seemingly insignificant ones around us.  This passage is not about Jacob, Joseph, John, or Jesus.  This compassionate view of God shares how our Lord cares for even the child of a slave, Ishmael.  

If God cares so much to hear the cries of little Ishmael, might he also care enough to notice our tears today?  May you provide and find peace through this verse. 
"Cast all your anxiety on him, because He cares for you.”  - 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)