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The Ten Commandments and other Bible verses promise long life to people who obey God. Why then do some who have obeyed not get to enjoy this promise? I know a teen who recently went to be with the Lord. He was a fine example of a godly young person; he even preached a few times. Yet he did not have a long life here on earth.

It is true that certain passages of Scripture seem to promise long life to the godly. Exodus 20:12 reads, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” Proverbs 3:1 and 2 state, “My son, do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands; for length of days and long life and peace they will add to you.”

Note several considerations when viewing these passages. First, what is our idea of a long life? We are accustomed to thinking of long life in terms of calendar years. That is a mistake. Should not quality of life be as important as quantity when we think of a long life? In serving the Lord some believers accomplish more in a few years than others accomplish in many.

Second, we must see passages such as these as noting general rules of thumb, not guarantees. Along the same line is Proverbs 22:6—if we train up a child in a godly way, he will not depart from it when he is grown. I suppose all of us can think of seeming exceptions.

Third, the person who knows Jesus as Savior truly does have a long life, regardless of the years he or she spends on earth; we dare not limit ourselves to thinking about life only on earth. The young person you used as an example may not have lived long here on earth, but he will live in Heaven eternally. We believers can look forward to eternity, to living forever. Life on earth is just a vapor, whether we live fifteen years or one hundred years.

Do you have feedback or a Bible question to submit? Send to or mail to Norman A. Olson in care of the Baptist Bulletin, 1300 N. Meacham Rd., Schaumburg, IL 60173-4806.

Reprinted from the Baptist Bulletin (October 2004).
© 2004 Regular Baptist Press. All rights reserved.
Used by permission.

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