What If we’re Wrong Again?

Q. I know a lot of prophecy scholars use the general life span of 70 years for the countdown for all end time prophecy to be fulfilled which leads us to 2018 or 2037. But We are also told man can live up to 80 years if they are strong and God also limits our years to 120. I’m so scared of another false hope debacle.

So many people swore the end of this age would come by 1988 due to a generation lasting 40 years. They were obviously wrong. So what if 2037 passes? Will people start saying we were wrong again and it could at the latest be 2087 (1967 + 120 maximum lifespan)?

A. Genesis 6:3 contains two obscure Hebrew phrases which make it very difficult to translate. One of them has to do with the meaning of the 120 years. This is compounded by the fact that the idea of fallen angels having sexual relations with women as Gen. 6:1-2 describes was embarrassing to the early Church at a time when angel worship was popular.

To solve this problem the passage was allegorized to make the angels represent the obedient sons of Shem and the women represent the rebellious daughters of Cain. They said it was intended as a prohibition against believers marrying unbelievers. Then the 120 years was said to be God’s announcement that He was going to limit the human life span.

But the marriage of believers to unbelievers doesn’t result in Nephilim as offspring (Gen. 6:4) and in Genesis 11, we can see that life spans were still considerably longer well after the flood, casting doubt on this interpretation.

Today many scholars have now gone back to a literal reading of Genesis 6, agreeing that it means what it says about angels and women, and that God was angered to the point of withdrawing His Spirit and giving mankind 120 years advance warning of the coming judgment. 1 Peter 3:18-20 supports this interpretation.

In Psalm 90:10 the Bible’s only clear limit to man’s life span is given to be 70 years with the extra 10 meant to be the exception, not the rule.

There’s no ironclad assurance in Scripture that we’ve gotten the meaning of this passage as it relates to the End Times correct, but many scholars pointed out the obvious error of the 40 year interpretation when it was first proposed, and also see the error of the 120 year one.

While believers will always attempt to make the Scripture say what they want to hear, no true student of God’s word was dissuaded from his faith by the “40 year” error. The Bible commands us to look for and understand the signs of the times, and being human we’ll be wrong some of the time. Maybe we’ll be wrong about the 70 year hypothesis too, but I don’t think so.

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