Never Grow Old?
By Mary Stephens


As I was working around the house this morning and thinking about various things an old song, "Never Grow Old," came to mind. One line of that song runs, "In a land where we’ll never grow old." As I thought about that, it began to dawn on me that I couldn't remember anywhere in the scripture where it specifically says that we will never grow old in heaven or eternity!

We are promised eternal life through faith in Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

1John 5:13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

We are told that time shall be no more.

Revelation 10:5 And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, 6 And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer:

We are told of the New Jerusalem that there will be no night there.

Revelation 22:5 And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.

But, as far as I can recall, there is no promise that we will "never grow old," specifically in those terms.

Before you panic about that, or scoff at that, please keep reading.

What It Does Say

It is a curious thing that in our human way of thinking, we have interpreted the end of time and eternal life as an absence of aging. Of course, to us aging is associated exclusively with decay to a greater or lesser degree. So, when we think of eternal life, we are inclined to think of it as being eternally young. This is probably a natural conclusion for us. But, several searches in Sword Searcher seemed to turn up virtually no verses to support this idea! If this is an inaccurate assumption how can we reconcile eternal life with aging?

Some other thoughts came to mind in thinking about that.

First of all, I think it is interesting to consider a couple of descriptions we have of God Almighty and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The first is in Daniel 7:9, I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.

Here Daniel the prophet describes the Lord God at the final judgment as being the "Ancient of days". His hair is said to be like pure wool, which is white. He appears to be a very aged "person" from this description, and yet, as the Judge of all the earth (Gen. 18:25), He is obviously all powerful at the same time.

The second passage describes John's vision of the Lord Jesus when he received the book of Revelations on the Isle of Patmos.

Revelation 1:12-16 And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.

John recognized Him as being like unto the Son of man, but He was very much different from when John had last seen Him. However, when Christ Jesus speaks in verse 18 this is cleared up in case there is any doubt.

Revelation 1:17-18 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

We see again a description of God, this time the Son, as having hair that is white like wool. Here it is distinguished as being as white as snow.

Now a number of years ago I remember hearing a preacher discussing this passage and saying that the Lord's hair appeared white because the light was so intense that it overpowered the color. This is not what the passage clearly says, however.

Another preacher thinks that we will be 33-year-old males when Christ comes for His church because that was His physical age when He left this earth, and "...we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." 1 John 3:2.

These may sound like nice ideas, and maybe they are correct. I don't know. But, the previous passages clearly describe God the Father and Son as having white hair, and it is hard to escape that title in Daniel - "the Ancient of days." That means aged, old.

As humans we have a dread of aging. To us it means running down; losing strength and health and vigor; losing abilities and mobility; decay and ultimately death.

But, notice the description of Christ Jesus given by John. Here we see Him with hair as white as snow, and yet His eyes were a flame of fire, his feet like fine brass and His voice as many waters. In verse 16 His countenance was as the sun shining. This is not a picture of decay or debility. It is a picture of power, vigor and ultimate strength!

Also, I think it is of interest to remember that aging was not specifically mentioned when the curse came upon Adam and Eve after they sinned.  They were given death and a lot of sorrows and struggles to deal with, but it does not appear that aging was one of them.  It makes me wonder if God intended man to age in the first place - just not to decay and die.

Now think with me about this. What would it be like if we could age without losing our health? How would it be to grow older and wiser, but not weaker; not more feeble? How would it be to grow ancient, but to maintain strength and vigor?

There are a couple of curious examples of this in the scriptures; men who actually grew old upon this earth, and yet did not grow feeble or ill.

First of all, we have Moses. When his work was done and his time came to die we read of him in Deuteronomy 34:7, And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.

Moses lived a long, long life by today's standards, and yet we find him with clear vision and the same vigor he had had all his life!

In the book of Joshua, we find Caleb the son of Jephunneh, a contemporary of Moses, recounting the Lord's promises to give him the land that he had trodden in the promised land.

Joshua 14:10-11 And now, behold, the LORD hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years, even since the LORD spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in.

Caleb was also not a young man. He was forty when he went in to spy out the land with the other 11 men, Josh. 14:7; he was 85 when he said this. Yet he tells us that he was as strong then as he had been at 40, even to go to war!

The Lord seems to have performed a miracle for these two men in keeping them from aging in our sense of the word while they still grew old in years.

Interestingly, but not surprisingly considering these passages, the Lord thinks highly of the hoary head - or the white haired head.

Leviticus 19:32 Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD.

The Jews under Moses' covenant were commanded to honor those with white hair and to show them deference.

Proverbs 16:31 The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.

We find here, though, that the hoary head is only a crown if it be found in the way of righteousness; which is fitting in God's order of things.

In the letter to Philemon, Paul did not refer to his apostleship in asking a favor of Philemon. He referred instead to love, to his age, and to his position as a prisoner of the Lord.

Philemon 1:9 Yet for love's sake I rather beseech thee, being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ.

There is an indication here that being aged was an honor, as it should be from what we've already read in the scriptures. In a true sense Paul was an elder at this point.

Last of all, there is a very interesting passage which I feel has to do with the final restoration of Jerusalem in the Kingdom reign of Christ.

Zechariah 8:2-8 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I was jealous for her with great fury. Thus saith the LORD; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain. Thus saith the LORD of hosts; There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof. Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it also be marvellous in mine eyes? saith the LORD of hosts. Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country; And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness.

Jerusalem has not yet been a city of truth, nor has it been the mountain of the Lord of hosts as a holy mountain. They also have not been the Lord's people, and He their God, in truth and righteousness for a long, long time! Thus, I feel that this passage refers to a time that is yet to come. But, what is a promise and hope for them given here? That old men and women shall dwell in the streets of Jerusalem along with boys and girls playing!

The promise of a restored and righteous Jerusalem includes both youth and old age!

In Conclusion

Let it be clear that I do not know if my thoughts on this are entirely correct. We may continue to age in eternity in a different sense from how we use the term "age" in this physically limited earth. But, we may also be eternally young as many have thought and said before. Either way, there are a couple of conclusions we can make from all of this.

First, it does not matter if we are old or young in terms of eternity. From the appearance of the Lord Himself we may age or appear aged, but we will not be feeble nor weak nor unhealthy in any way. The wisdom and honor of being ancient may be a privilege that we too will share, but we shall also share His power of eternal life!

Because of this, we can also conclude that old age is not something to fear. Our present bodies may decay and fail and lose strength, but our eternal bodies will not, even if they do age in the perfect sense of that idea. This is something that is hard to grasp while we are still in the body of this death (Rom. 7:24-25), but in all truth, for us to live is Christ and to die is gain (Php. 1:21)!

Secondly, we know that there must be a change, whether we are eternally "young" or whether we attain unto the status of "ancient".

1 Corinthians 15:51-57 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

For us, the sting of aging is the death of the physical body. Because dying starts long before we actually are laid in a coffin, we are constantly reminded as we age that "final" death is ultimately approaching. I think that this is the reason that we view aging and old age as a curse rather than a privilege. Thus, we assume that in heaven and in eternity we shall be forever young, that it is "a land where we never grow old." Apparently this may not be true, and yet, if it is not we have no need to fear the aging there because it does not mean decay and death as it does to us in this life!

Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day;
Earth's joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see:
O Thou who changest not, abide with me!
- Henry F. Lyte

Of that great priest, Melchisedec we read that he was Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually. Hebrews 7:3

Though we cannot be without beginning of days, and we will have an end of life on this earth one way or another, yet we shall be like Melchisedec in one way: we shall be made like unto the Son of God.

1 John 3:2-3 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

Our hope is in the Lord! He has the power to give us that endless life of eternity. Whether it be aging without decay, or not, we shall be "alive for evermore" even as our Lord is.

John 17:2-3 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

1 John 5:11-13 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

                        

 

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updated 2013
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