For a man who studied Engineering at University, my maths is inexcusably bad sometimes. But this is a sum you wouldn’t want to get wrong. Nine thousand, three hundred and fifty nine. That’s the answer. Not including leap year calculations. That’s how long until I’m seventy. It’s not a huge number, is it? The clock is ticking. It’s only a matter of days.
In Psalm 90, Moses’ ballpark estimate was that we might live to seventy, perhaps even eighty. Of course, it wasn’t meant to be like that. God created humanity to live forever. And we were given access to the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden. But then our representative forebears blew it. But before I get too stroppy with Adam, it’s worth remembering that I’d have done exactly what he did. But the point is that ever since that moment, our lives have been temporary. Like new grass in the morning we start out bright and bushy and full of potential but only a matter of twelve hours later we’re scorched and withered and about to die (6). And it’s all a result of God’s wrath on our sin (7-11). So how are we meant to respond to this inevitable fact of life; our brief time on this earth?
Moses prayed that the Lord would teach him to number his days so that he’d gain a heart of wisdom (12). Are you willing to pray for that? It makes doesn’t it? But what is a heart of wisdom anyway? We thought about that last night in Growth Group. It’s about living sensibly in the world that God has given us with the life that God has given us. And being sensible is all about praying for the things that Moses lists. There are five in particular.
- In (13) Moses prayed that the Lord would relent from His anger so that he might instead experience His compassion.
- In (14) Moses prayed that he would be satisfied by the Lord’s steadfast love so that joy and gladness might characterise his existence.
- In (15) Moses prayed that he would receive some sort of compensation for the years of trouble and affliction that had been his.
- In (16) Moses prayed that he and his children would gain some appreciation of the majesty of the Lord’s work.
- In (17) Moses prayed that there would be some sort of permanent legacy to his work for the Lord.
I don’t know how you’re intending to spend whatever time you have left on this earth. But it seemed to me that praying those five things will some degree of regularity might make sure that I don’t waste whatever time the Lord gives me. Of course, Moses prayed those five things without a working knowledge of Christ’s death and resurrection. He can only have glimpsed the prospect of a life beyond the grave. He lived BC not AD. But we know for certain that this life, short though it is, is not the end. Jesus’ reappearance from the grave guarantees that every one of those prayers will one day be answered with a fullness that we can only imagine.