Why did God restrict man’s life to 120 years?

Author: BibleAsk Team

Hundred and Twenty Years of Life

“And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.”

Genesis 6:3

This statement, which follows immediately after the reference to the unsanctified marriages of the antediluvians (Genesis 6:1, 2) between the godly (Seth’s descendants) and ungodly (Cain’s descendants), suggests that God’s displeasure was most particularly displayed toward this evil practice that led to the full deterioration of morality which in turn led to the flood.

Captive to their passions, the antediluvians were no longer subject to God’s Spirit. The word “strive” in the Hebrew means “to rule,” and “to judge.” These words indicate that the Holy Spirit could continue working but a little longer, and would then be withdrawn from unrepentant of the human race. Even God’s long-suffering must end.

For this reason, man’s life span after the flood was restricted to 120 years. God’s patience would come to an end and probation would close within the period of time here specified. In the meantime, divine mercy lingered. Peter refers to the work of the Spirit on the hearts of the antediluvians, saying that the Spirit of Christ preached to these prisoners of Satan (1 Peter 3:18–20).

Christ compared God’s dealings with the antediluvians to His work for the human race at the end of time (Matthew 24:37–39). Under similar circumstances, God may be expected to work in similar ways. We are now living on borrowed time, knowing that the destruction of the world will soon occur (2 Peter 3:3–7). We know also that God’s Spirit will not endlessly strive with men who do not choose to heed His warnings and prepare for that great event.

It took over 12 generations before the life span of man was reduced from the 900-year span to about 120 years. This was also due in part to the consumption of animal products after the flood, the ideal Eden diet, is the vegetarian diet (Genesis 1:29; 2:16).

Check out our Bible Answers page for more information on a variety of topics.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

Leave a Comment