In Psalm 90, we find “a prayer of Moses the man of God.” He discusses the very foundational truth that man’s physical life is only temporary… and VERY short. Verse 10 states: “The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” We understand, of course, that these numbers are only average estimates in this day and age; many people might die before they turn seventy, and others may even get as old as one hundred years, and counting. But Moses makes the point that death IS inevitable, and he continues in verse 12: “So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
David echoed this sentiment in Psalm 39:4: “LORD, make me to know my end, And what is the measure of my days, That I may know how frail I am.”
This admonition is not only meant for older people. Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 12:1: “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth,” continuing in verses 13 and 14: ”… Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether it is good or whether it is evil.”
This physical life is not an end in itself… it is a training ground to qualify for a better life to come. But while “in the flesh,” we must have the right focus, as so aptly expressed by James:
“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit,’ whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanished away. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that’” (James 4:13-15).
We must acknowledge God in all our ways, striving to become more and more like Him—becoming perfect as He is perfect (cp. Matthew 5:48). Jesus enjoyed this physical life in a right and godly way, but He never lost sight of His real purpose—why He came and what He had to do. While God wants us to “prosper in all things” (3 John) and that we have “life” “more abundantly” (John 10:10), having “all sufficiency in all things” (2 Corinthians 9:8), His ultimate goal for us is much more permanent and eternal.
He wants us to become born-again immortal members in His very Family, and in working for that goal, we must be willing to give up everything, counting it as rubbish (Philippians 3:8), in order to attain the resurrection from the dead to eternal life (verses 10-11). In that, we follow and are looking unto Christ who was rich, but, in comparison, became poor for our sakes (2 Corinthians 8:9). He was willing “for the joy that was set before Him” to endure the cross and to despise the shame (cp. Hebrews 12:2).
His focus was always on God the Father, only saying and doing the things which were pleasing in God’s sight. He knew how short His physical life would be, and He could not afford to become side-tracked. We, too, must avoid becoming entangled with the affairs of this life which could easily cloud our minds as to what is really important for us. Rather, we need to have the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5), and when we do, we will number our days to gain a heart of wisdom, knowing they will end soon, but only in this physical realm.