My brother-in-law, Randy, is the first person of our generation on Janet’s side of the family to celebrate his 70th birthday – today. You know, it’s different when grandparents, or even parents, celebrate the turn of a decade but it strikes you a little different when you realize that we are all getting a little older and the years are adding up – and we are members of the eldest generation.
Most of the birthday cards having to do with turning seventy reflect on the past and what has transpired up until this time. As Randy is fond of saying, the window is closing on all of us and he wants to live life to the fullest. I, also, am big on wanting to celebrate what is yet to come – looking forward to all the unfinished things still to experience.
The Bible considers the number 70 rather important. In fact, it is used 56 times in the Bible and is made up of two very important numbers. If you are into biblical numerology, the number 7 represents perfection, such as creation being completed in 7 days – and Noah and his family being in the ark 7 days before the flood came. In fact, the number 7 appears more than 735 times in the Bible – a huge number of occurrences.
Likewise, the number 10 represents completeness and God’s law. For example, God gave Moses 10 commandments on Mt. Sinai, etc. And multiples of 7 are found very frequently. So it shouldn’t come as any surprise that we find the number 70 throughout our study of the Scripture. After the flood, the population of the earth was accomplished through 70 descendants of Noah. We also know that the Israelites were exiled in Babylon for 70 years.
Moses appointed 70 elders in Israel and Jesus sent out 70 disciples to preach the Gospel throughout the area. Seventy Israelites, of Joseph’s family, went to Egypt and started the population that grew to more than 2 million by the time of the Exodus. The Sanhedrin, a special group of Jewish elders, numbered 70 as well and after the Tower of Babel, the scattered people populated 70 nations.
So you can see that the references to 70 can signify tremendous unity – or periods of disunity. There are even references to families of 70 being of one soul – completely bonded together as almost one person. Unfortunately, as in the dispersement of the people after they built the Tower of Babel, we can also find disunity – it seems that God leaves the result up to each of us as to how we want to apply the number 70 to our own lives. We have a choice…
Luckily for us, we are a close family and I think that the unity we have – the belief and commitment to one another- are best exemplified when we suffer a crisis, illness or other event that causes us to bind ourselves together. And Randy certainly plays the role of setting an example to lead his family and bringing everyone together as a unifying influence.
It is clear that God is not done with us at age 70. Our verse for this evening highlights how God promised to restore Israel after 70 years of Babylonian captivity. We are told, in Jeremiah 29:10, “This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place.”
My encouragement this evening is that God wants each of us to look forward to receive His blessings for our entire lives. My prayer is that we will also live our lives expecting blessings and being grateful for the grace that God has bestowed on us during our lives so far. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace… and Randy, I hope that the Lord has blessed you with a wonderful day, a remembrance of the past – and hope for the future. May God bless you abundantly all the days of your life!