ESV - 3 Then the Lord said, "My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.
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It was fulfilled in Adam, and gave him 120 more years to live before being cut off. This was given when he was 810 years old, making Gen. 6:1-2 refer to the 810 years since Adam’s creation, and Gen. 6:4 refer to the days after this to the flood. The fact is, the verse reveals that Adam had corrupted his way upon earth as all other flesh had done, and that God, in His mercy, gave him 120 more years in which to repent and conform his life to the will of his Creator. Adam was NOT remorseful of the sin he committed. Adam and Eve were created in God's grace or favor (Gen. 1:26-31). They fell from grace by sin and lost the eternal life they would have kept if they had not sinned (Gen. 2:17; 3:1-19; Rom. 5:12-21; 2Cor. 11:3). Nothing is ever said of their salvation from sin. They are not listed with the faith-worthies of the Old Testament (Heb. 11). Adam was still a sinner at the age of 810 years (Gen. 6:3). He was a son of God (Lk. 3:38). Thus, again, sonship is proved not to be a guarantee of eternal life. God promises to punish every angel or man who sins regardless of sonship or relationship.
The original message of this verse is pretty simple, but old language in some Bible translations can make it hard to understand. It makes more sense when read in more modern translations of the Bible, such as the New Living Translation or The Message. Here is the NLT version: Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not put up with humans for such a long time, for they are only mortal flesh. In the future, their normal lifespan will be no more than 120 years.” Prior to this point in human history, most people were living much longer than 120 years, even up to Methuselah's whopping 969 years! God had originally intended for man to live forever, but with sin tainting our lives and fellowship with God, He had no choice but to limit our time here on earth. If we read the verses before and after Genesiss 6:3, we find some clues about why God decided to place an "age cap" of 120 years on the human lifespan: When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the Lord said, "My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years." The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown. The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them." But Noah f found favor in the eyes of the Lord. (Genesis 6:1-8) With sin greatly increasing on the earth to the point of grieving God, He deemed it necessary to shorten the human lifespan from nearly 1000 years to 120. That's really all this verse means.
It has been understood by many that the 120 years refers to the time from the statement ("My spirit shall not always strive with man...) to the time of the flood. The statement itself implies a coming judgment, or end to things as they were. One difficulty in limiting men to 120 years of life after the flood is that so many men are listed in the bible as exceeding this limit, from Shem (600 years) down to Jacob (147 years) - a period of over 500 years according to the Masoretic bible, or over 1400 years according to the Septuagint bible. We don't know exactly when this 120 year limit actually went into effect according to the scriptures. Even today, people approach or exceed the 120 year limit. According to the Guiness Book of Records,the greatest fully authenticated age to which any human has ever lived is 122 years 164 days by Jeanne Louise Calment (France). Born on 21 February 1875 to Nicolas (1837 - 1931) and Marguerite (neé Gilles 1838 - 1924), Jeanne died at a nursing home in Arles, southern France on 4 August 1997.
To understand the biblical scriptures men shall live for a hundred and twenty years we need to understand where we stand today in the earth's history. Today it is widely accepted and believed the earth's history has been billions of years with their ongoing excavations and findings all over the Earth. Adam and Eve were deceived by Lucifer, who was the snake in the field as he was cast out before they were formed and came in their presence. Being a deceiver who was cast down to the ground, sent during the first creation, was looking out to exalt his throne above the stars of God to be like the most High. (Isa 14:12-16 / Eze 28:13-17). When Adam and Eve were created from the dust of the ground and were put in the garden of Eden to dress and keep it (Gen 2:15), he came and deceived them. And this sin nature entered his children; and then when men began to multiply on the face of the earth and had daughters born unto them, the sons of God (Gen 6:4), who were angels that left their first estate of habitation, (Jude 1:6) came and took the daughters of men, and there were giants on the earth. This is a clear indication of the second creation that sinned, and God then spoke to Noah to build the ark, and then the earth was flooded with water. After the flood when the earth became dry, (Gen 8:1-3, 13) Noah then built an altar and offered sacrifice unto the Lord of the clean beasts that he had, and the Lord smelled a sweet savor and said in His heart, “I will not curse the ground any more for man’s sake for the imagination of men’s heart is evil from his youth.” (Gen 8:20-21) Scripturally as we understand, from the time of the flood of waters which was upon the earth Noah was 600 years old (Gen 7:6) and yet lived for another 350 years, and then died at the age of 950 years. (Gen 9:29) Noah’s sons and his descendants, (Gen 11:10-32) along with the coming of Abraham who lived for 175 years (Gen 25:7), is an all-clear indication of the timeline given, not for the age of men but for mankind, that shall live for 120 years, which has a “biblical countdown” (2 Peter 3:8) till the coming of the judgment day for mankind.
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