800px-lab mouse_mg_3263 Israeli researchers * have discovered a gene that increases the lifespan in mice, and may do the same in humans. Their findings have been published recently in the prestigious journal, Nature.

Recently a number of genes have been discovered which affect the lifespan of laboratory animals.  Among them is a group known as Sirtuins, which are found in every species. The gene SIR2 has been found to prolong  life in yeast, worms and flies. Researchers in Israel are now experimenting with a companion gene SIRT6 in mice

Dr Cohen of the research team, stated  "Originally in mice without the gene, researchers saw premature aging,” Dr Cohen said. “They suffered spinal curvature, calcium deficiency and osteoporosis, immune system problems, and diabetes – conditions which are familiar to us in aging humans. "We called the second group, which we created in the laboratory, the 'MOSES' mice and compared their lifespan to that of wild-type mice, which possess a normal amount of SIRT6.”

 Both groups were fed on a high fat diet designed to bring on diseases associated with ageing. The wild mice developed these diseases, but the MOSES mice remained healthy.

"We were the first to show that these sirtuin genes regulate life span in mammals,”Dr Cohen declared. “The research was conducted in laboratory animals under very sterile conditions. Is this what happens in nature? It's not clear. The human SIRT6 gene is very similar to that in mice.

“It could be that drugs designed to activate the gene will have a positive impact on our ability to treat age-related diseases whose frequency increases in the elderly and in the physiological damage caused by obesity,”

Teach us to number our days

It is hoped that  with Scientific advances some severe age related illnesses, Alzheimer’s for example and life threatening conditions such as obesity, will be eliminated; however, the signals and symptoms of old age are given to us by a merciful God for a purpose. That purpose is to teach mankind that we are mortal and that a gradual deterioration of our senses, followed by death in old age is our lot unless we seek His help to change our mortal condition.

Psalm 90 states quite succinctly that we have only a short time on this earth and we need to use that time wisely.


 9  For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told.

10  The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

11  Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath.

12  So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

The early Genesis record tells us how death became man’s lot. Genesis Ch. 3 records that Adam and Eve broke God’s only commandment  and ate of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. As they had been warned, the curse of death came upon them.  From then on their lives would be hard, they would have to labour, gaining their food by the sweat of their brow and would finally die and return to the dust out of which they had been created.

God said , Genesis 3:19 ‘ In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.’

God was merciful in that He did not carry out His sentence of death right away, He allowed Adam and all mankind time to think how they ought to spend their lives and gave them a promise that if they were obedient and turned to Him, there was still hope.  As a ‘visual aid’, God caused their bodies to age noticeably so that death would not come as a sudden surprise. Hence the Psalmists request... ‘So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.’ In other words ‘help me to see my fate, repent and change my ways before it is too late’.

Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden in Eden ‘Lest he should stretch forth his hand and eat of the tree and live forever’(Gen 3:22). This was in God’s mercy for imagine how painful and full of regret would be the life of an everlasting sinner, unable to communicate with God and living in a world full of eternally wicked people.  The first people on earth lived very long lives, for example Methuselah who lived almost 1000 years, but God soon significantly reduced man’s life expectancy. Because of their persistent sinning, Man’s life was shortened so that that their evil would not live on and on as an offence to God. 

Genesis 6:3 ‘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.’

Since then, doubtless because of genetic disorders developing over time, lives are shorter so that now, as the Psalmist said in Psalm 90, we are fortunate to reach our 70s and 80s in good health.

Age related diseases, the tell tale signs of ageing, are then a warning that our time is limited, and if we are wise we will make the most of our time, like the Psalmist in Ps. 71

5  For thou art my hope, O Lord GOD: thou art my trust from my youth.

6  By thee have I been holden up from the womb: thou art he that took me out of my mother’s bowels: my praise shall be continually of thee.

7  I am as a wonder unto many; but thou art my strong refuge.

8  Let my mouth be filled with thy praise and with thy honour all the day.

9  Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth.

17  O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works.

18  Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.

The wise will make the Lord God their hope, they will see in the Gospel given through Jesus Christ that everlasting life is possible and will change their ways. They will spend their time praising Him and speaking of His goodness to all who will hear. For God has promised a reversal of the curse placed in Eden to those who serve Him. This hope is shown in Genesis Chapter 3. Eve was promised that one of her ‘seed’ would bruise the serpent’s head (i.e. put an end to the power of sin and its end result-death) and as Adam and Eve were banished from the garden they were given a hope that there would be a way back. In Genesis  3:24 ‘ So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.’

The way of the tree of life has been opened by the Lord Jesus at his death and resurrection when he (2Ti 1:10) ’abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel’: and he will grant eternal life to all those who have obeyed him and believed his gospel.

In time, Science may be able to reduce the effects of some form of ageing, but the Gospel offers everlasting life, where one will never again feel pain, sorrow or any kind of ill health. Eternal life will be granted by the Lord Jesus at his return to those he finds worthy. At that time he will raise the dead for judgement as we are told in  Acts 17:31 ‘ Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him (Jesus) from the dead.’

The Last Enemy

Chapter 15 of Paul’s  1st letter to the Corinthians deals specifically with the resurrection, in verse 26 he states that ultimately when the world is filled with faithful men and women, death will no longer exist v 26 ‘The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death’

At the end of the Chapter, Paul paints a wonderful picture of the resurrection and judgement when the Lord Jesus returns.

51 ¶  Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

52  In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

53  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

54  So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

55  O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

56  The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

57  But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus has given us ‘the words of eternal life’(John 6:68) but our time to accept them is limited. As our body ages, we need to heed its warning and realise that, unless we heed Jesus Words and he grants us immortality, death will have won the victory.

So, may we echo the words of the Psalm 90:12 ‘ So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.’

*The researchers, led by Dr. Haim Cohen of the Mina and Everard Goodman Faculty of Life Sciences, teamed up for the study with scientists from Hadassah Medical Center, Jerusalem's Hebrew University and the Carnegie Mellon University.

Acknowledgements: images are from Wikipedia.org and are used under the GNU license.