According to tradition, it was on the 11th day of Cheshvan that Methuselah, the grandfather of Noah, died. If this is accurate, Methuselah’s death may have been the indicator to Noah that the flood was on its way. It is also believed that this is the date that Rachel, the wife of Jacob, died as she was giving birth to his youngest son, Benjamin. While the traditions about these deaths and births are interesting for many reasons, the main point of today’s devotion is this: for certain things to come to pass, other things must die. Messiah validates this concept in John 12:24 when He says:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.”
If Methuselah was the indicator to Noah of an impending flood, then as long as he was alive, the flood was held back. When he died, Noah would know that the flood was at hand. The name Methuselah means “his death send outs” or “launches, initiates.” Methuselah’s death initiated a time that, for many, meant destruction. For those who were walking in God’s purpose – Noah and his family – this judgment meant deliverance and life. In other words, death was necessary that there might be life.
Regarding Rachel, her unfortunate death brings about the birth of Jacob’s twelfth son, thus completing his house and the twelve tribes that would become Israel. Thus we see that, for the nation that God ordained to be a light to the gentiles, there had to be a death. Putting it another way, perfection or completion requires that some things must cease and give way to other things. While this concept may sound strange, nonetheless, it is introduced in the very beginning.
“Thus, the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.” (Genesis 2:1-2)
The word that is translated here as “finished,” and then again as “ended,” is the Hebrew root word that means “perfection.” But this word is also translated as “destruction.” How can the same word mean “perfection and “destruction,” seeing that the two seem to oppose one another? To understand that we have to consider the purpose of Shabbat, the seventh day. Shabbat is the completion or the perfecting of Creation according to the biblical account, seeing that is when the Creator ceased from His work. So for Shabbat to serve its purpose, the six days, or more specifically, the work that occurs on those six days must come to an end or “die,” so to speak. Again, for some things to come to fruition and completion, some things must come to an end.
As His children, we will not be perfected until some aspects of our being come to an end. To begin with, if we are to be born again, our willingness to remain in our sin has to die. In fact, we are born again so that we may learn how to die to our will. As new creations, we are being conformed to the image of the Son of God, which means that, at some point in time, this corruptible flesh must cease to exit; it must come to an end. Paul says this mortal must put on immortality; corruption must give way to incorruption.
Finally, for the Messiah to rule and reign from Jerusalem and be King over all nations, the kingdoms of this world must come to an end. So, as believers, it shouldn’t frighten us to see that some things we have leaned upon are slowing eroding away and coming to a end. To the contrary, we should take heart in the fact that the Creator is perfecting His Children, individually and corporately. He is bringing to pass promises made in His word. So look up!