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aging death Judgment Day mortality Uncategorized

Mbah Gotho, Methusaleh, And Mortality

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Neal Pollard

Incredibly, his residency card and his nation’s official documents, state his birthday as December 31, 1870 (The Guardian). For clarification, that was almost three weeks before Germany became an official nation, only five years after the end of the Civil War (reconstruction was just underway and Ulysses Grant was president), 28 years before the Spanish-American war, 33 years before the airplane was invented, 44 years before the start of World War I, and America was less than 100 years old. Mbah Gotho died in 2017, making him 146 years old at the time. The only reason it is questioned is because his native Indonesia did not begin recording births until 1900. Officials stand firm that it is accurate. Can you imagine? What was it like to live almost a century and a half? To see almost all of 15 decades? 

To put it in perspective, the ancient Methuselah lived almost seven times longer than Mbah. He died at almost 1,000 years old.  Genesis 5:27 faithfully records, “So all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred and sixty-nine years, and he died.” Methuselah was contemporary with Adam and Shem, a gap of over 1,600 years. In a day of pristine gene pools and a water canopy-covered atmosphere, everyone and every thing lived much longer. But God determined a general rule of thumb to which humanity has almost universally submitted, saying, “Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years” (Gen. 6:3). Thus, an Mbah Gotho is an almost singular oddity. The official oldest age in modern times was reached by Jeanne Calment, who was 122 when she succumbed in 1997. 

Average life expectancy throughout much of recorded time falls more closely in line with what Moses states, in Psalm 90:10, somewhere between 70-80 years of age. War, disease, famine, poverty, and the like sometimes curtail those numbers, but what is true of those who die at birth or who make it 122, 146, or even 969 years is that they do die. Hebrews 9:27 affirms the inevitability of it barring only the second coming of Christ in one’s lifetime (1 Cor. 15:52).

Most people make decisions as though they will live forever. People who know better put off obedience to the gospel, put other things before Christ in their priorities, serve sin, and neglect their reason for existence. While too many do this in ignorance, how tragic for the untold number who know how they ought to spend their lives but either deny or delay doing it. The moment of surrender will come. The body and spirit separate (Jas. 2:26). The body returns to dust and the spirit returns to God (Ecc. 12:7). At death, one’s eternal existence begins (Mat. 25:46). God gives one only the moments between birth and death to prepare for that existence, but He does not tell any of us how long that is. He simply tells us to be ready (Mat. 24:42,44). May we all get ready and stay ready for that day!

Categories
character family influence name reputation

I Had No Idea What “Pollard” Meant!

Neal Pollard

For years, I’ve told people the two things I knew about my surname—(a) It’s English and (b) it means “tree topper.” It gave me a little satisfaction to think of my solidly blue-collar roots.  Other research shows my ancestors to have been among the early inhabitants of this country, as one Robert Pollard, II, was born in Devon, England, in 1610 and died in King and Queen County, Virginia, in 1668. Anne Pollard was the first female to step foot on Boston’s shores (info from Maurice J. Pollard’s The History of the Pollard family in America, 1961). You’ll find Pollards in the French and Indian War, the Revolutionary War (Asa Pollard was “the first man to fall at Bunker Hill”), and the Civil War (Pollard Genealogy, Stephen Pollard, 1902, p. 3ff, via babel.hathitrust.org). As pride swells, I drive by ancestry.com only to find earlier history.  The name is actually Irish, dating back to the 14th Century, and it was a “nickname for a person with a large or unusually shaped head.” Wow. Not that I don’t know that from trying on hats my whole life. In my case, try freakishly huge melon. I’m extra-Pollard!

So, I maintain a mixture of pride and humility as I trace my name back through history.  That is due to more than etymology.  If I look hard enough at genealogy, I’ll find some Pollards who make me proud and some that make me ashamed that we share the same last name.  Even in contemporary times with Pollards I know I’m related to, this will be the case.

Solomon wrote, “A good name is better than a good ointment” (Ecc. 7:1a).  He said, “A good name is to be more desired than great wealth” (Prov. 22:1a).  That gets more personal.  When people hear my name, they have distinct, specific thoughts about my character, my nature, and my reputation.  Over a lifetime, there have been people who have known me who may have a bad taste in their mouths when they say my name.  Occasionally, as I’ve dealt with people in customer service situations, my name might not be the sweetest on their lips.  When I think of my failure to be an example as a Christian before the world, going back to days when I was in school, my name did not always have a true association with the name of Christ.

What does your name mean? What does your name mean to the people you work with, go to school with, do business with, and live near?  What does your name mean to the people who know you best?  We wear the name of Christ, as Christians, and we must strive to honor that great name! He’s counting on us to promote His name through the way we wear our name and His name each day.